Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brethren support hunger report reviewing Millennium Development Goals.

The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund has given $5,000 to support publication of Bread for the World's “Hunger Report 2009.” This year’s Hunger Report reviews the progress of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. “Hunger Report 2009" was released by Bread for the World on Nov. 14 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

In 2006 the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference adopted a resolution in support of the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensure environmental stability, and develop global partnership. The goals have been set forth as global objectives to be achieved by 2015. The US signed and committed to the Millennium Declaration along with 188 other countries at a UN summit in 2000.

The Bread for the World report includes an annex with the Millennium Development Goals indicators and visual representations of regional progress made in key areas. The organization plans on having a downloadable, user-friendly way to access this annex online at Because of the Church of the Brethren sponsorship, the report this year also includes a brief statement about the Global Food Crisis Fund.

In September, the UN issued a Millennium Development Goals Report 2008 and held events to mark the half-way point to the target date of 2015. “The world has made strong and sustained progress in reducing extreme poverty...but this is now being undercut by higher prices, particularly of food and oil, and the global economic slowdown,” a UN release said.

“Improved estimates of poverty from the World Bank show that the number of poor in the developing world is larger than previously thought, at 1.4 billion people,” the release said. “But the new estimates confirm that between 1990 and 2005, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen--from 1.8 to 1.4 billion--and that the 1990 global poverty rate is likely to be halved by 2015.... Most of the decline occurred in eastern Asia, particularly China. Other regions have seen much smaller decreases in the poverty rate.”

In a foreword to the UN progress report, secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon wrote that “the largely benign development environment that has prevailed since the early years of this decade, and that has contributed to the successes to date, is now threatened. The economic slowdown will diminish the incomes of the poor; the food crisis will raise the number of hungry people in the world and push millions more into poverty; climate change will have a disproportionate impact on the poor.

“The need to address these concerns, pressing as they are, must not be allowed to detract from our longterm efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” Ban Ki-Moon stated. “On the contrary, our strategy must be to keep the focus on the MDGs as we confront these new challenges. Looking ahead to 2015 and beyond, there is no question that we can achieve the overarching goal: we can put an end to poverty. But it requires an unswerving, collective, longterm effort.”

A few gains noted in the UN release:
  • Primary school enrollment has reached 90 per cent, and is in striking distance of the 2015 goal of 100 per cent, in all but two out of 10 regions of the world. Within primary schools, gender parity (share of girls’ enrollment as compared to boys’) is at 95 per cent in six out of 10 regions.

  • Deaths from measles have been cut in one third between 2000 and 2006, and the vaccination rate among developing world children has reached 80 per cent.

  • More than one and a half billion people have gained access to clean drinking water since 1990--but due to stress on freshwater resources nearly three billion people now live in regions facing water scarcity.
Among challenges noted by the UN report:
  • More than half a million mothers in developing countries die in childbirth or from pregnancy complications every year.

  • About one quarter of developing world children are undernourished.

  • Almost half of the developing world population still lack improved sanitation facilities.
For a free copy of the Bread for the World “Hunger Report 2009” contact Howard Royer, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund, at 800-323-8039.

Source: 11/19/2008 Newsline

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