Ten years ago, at the crack of a new millennium, the United Nations gave the world's poorest countries 15 years to halve their poverty rates, reverse the spread of AIDS, enroll 100 percent of their children in elementary schools, and give 100 percent of their pregnant women access to medical care.
Since then, these Millennium Development Goals have been the benchmarks for aid agencies, and the yardstick against which democracies and autocrats alike can measure their progress.
A decade into the program, analysts concede that many of these ambitious goals won't be reached. But which ones might? Who's winning the race to 2015?
This week, while UN technocrats try to re-crunch the numbers on how a misgoverned nation like Zimbabwe can possibly halve its poverty rate by 2015, delegates from Vietnam and Thailand will toast a fait accompli. The percentage of Vietnamese living on less than $1.25 a day has not only already fallen by half since the 1990s – mission accomplished – it’s fallen by two thirds. Childhood mortality in Thailand is a quarter of what it was at the start of the period.
“The old idea that Southeast Asia is outside of the global economy is thinking that is at least 15 years old,” he says.
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