High food prices and a slowing world economy have raised the risk that many countries, including India, will fail to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, by 2015, says a new report.
The 2008 Global Monitoring Report, or GMR, by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund warns that South Asia will fail to meet all of its targets, except in reducing poverty. India will fall seriously short of its targets of reducing child and maternal mortality as well as building primary schools, and providing nutrition and sanitation, in part because climate change and high oil and food prices have complicated progress.
MDGs are a set of eight globally agreed development goals. United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon had said on 1 April that “2008 should mark a turning point in progress towards the MDGs, devoted to addressing the needs of the poorest of the poor.”
GMR, which focuses on an “agenda for inclusive and sustainable development”, says farm productivity might decline sharply in India due to climate change and it will need to revise its farm policy and programmes to adapt.
“South Asia’s final achievement,” said Zia Qureshi, lead author, in a teleconference from Washington, “will depend very much on India’s performance. This makes the human development agenda a big challenge to meet.”
Despite over 8.5% growth for the past four years, India has a child malnutrition rate that is double the average of African nations, which themselves are laggards. “Hunger and malnutrition is now a forgotten goal,” he said.
India’s high growth, said development specialist Mira Chatterjee, has not really reached most women and children. “These are really outcome issues and more related to softer issues such as access to?health?care,?the?family’s?ability to meet nutritional needs, women’s empowerment, even neglect of children who could be really unwanted.” Even family planning needs, she said, are not being met at the lowest-income households.