Millennium Development Goal #1

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is a global nonprofit organization representing and coordinating a membership of over 100 national United Nations Associations.

Main Targets

Progress Report: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than 1 dollar a day.

Progress Report: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

Progress Report: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.


The First Millennium Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger may be the most influential on the success of the other MDGs. When faced with extreme hunger and malnutrition that limits physical development, there is little energy left to put towards other pursuits like full time employment or attending school. While women and children are most affected by chronic hunger and malnutrition, it is usually forgotten that food security and hunger cannot simply be attributed to mismanagement by home governments.  Extreme weather, a lack of proper agricultural practices, war and migration also contribute to these problems. In recent years, there has been a renewed emphasis put on nutritional practices as one of the best tools to combat malnutrition. Iron deficiency is the most prevalent form of malnutrition worldwide, affecting an estimated 2 billion people. It has been estimated by the World Health Organization that eradicating iron deficiency can improve national productivity levels by as much as 20 percent, helping to reduce poverty rates.

Likewise, the often forgotten portion of MDG1 is the production of meaningful employment for women and youth. Youth now make up the largest percentage of the world's population than ever before, and also carry more education than past generations. Yet, youth have struggled to find full time employment in all sectors, in both developed and developing economies. This has resulted in feelings of disenchantment, leading to uprisings worldwide.  

While this MDG may seem especially daunting because of the sheer size and scope of its goal, multiple regions have made huge progress and are expected to meet certain targets by 2015.

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Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than 1 dollar a day. 

Progress Report

  • Despite the deep economic recession over the past four years, progress in reducing poverty rates has slowed but not stopped, with projections that this target will be met my 2015.
  • For the first time since the World Bank has started to monitor poverty trends, both the number of people living in extreme poverty and poverty rates has fallen in every developing region.
  • Overall, the proportion of people living on under 1.25 dollars a day fell from 47% in 1990 to 24% in 2008. This has resulted in about 110 million fewer people in 2008 living in conditions of extreme poverty, as compared to 2005.
  • China has sustained huge progress, bringing the percentage of those living in extreme poverty to 13% in 2008, down from 60% in 1990 and 16% in 2005.
  • For the first time since 1981, there has been a reverse in the long term trend in the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty: from 395 million people in 2005 to 386 million people in 2008.
  • Poverty has remained wide spread in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, despite the overall progress made.


  • Monitoring the progress of poverty reduction has been a difficult task, due to the lack of good quality data taken at steady intervals. This is especially problematic in Sub- Saharan Africa where the tools needed to collect a full set of data on MDGs are available in less than half of the countries in that area. 

Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. 

Progress Report 

  • The total number of individuals suffering from malnutrition has fallen since 1990 but has stalled since 2002. It was estimated that in 2012, 925 million people suffered from chronic hunger, down from 1, 023 billion in 2009 – but more than the number of malnourished people in 1990(around 815 million).
  • Despite reductions in extreme poverty, the economic crisis mixed with rising food prices will result in many regions not meeting the hunger-reduction target.

  •  While it is suggested that South-Eastern Asia, Western Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean will meet the hunger-reduction targets by 2015, these are huge disparities within these areas. For example, the huge gains Eastern Asia has seen in meeting this MDG goal since 1990 are linked to China’s huge progressive leaps in eliminating extreme hunger and South-East Asia is benefiting from the advances made in Indonesia and the Philippines.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa is not expected to meet this target by 2015.

  • View World Food Programme's 2011 Hunger Map  -  Click here

Children and Hunger

  • Between 1990-2008 the number of underweight children under 5 declined from 31% to 23% in developing regions, with the most success in Eastern Asia (more specifically, China). South-East Asia and North Africa are also on the right track to reaching this MDG, with East Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Caucasus and Central Asia have already or are very close to reaching the MDG.
  • Overall, developing regions have not made enough progress towards  the malnutrition and chronic hunger target, with South-East Asia having half of the world’s undernourished children.
  • Poorer children, especially those living in rural areas, are the most at risk of malnutrition, with South Asia as having no meaningful improvement among children in the poorest households between 1995 and 2009. Their wealthy counterparts level of malnurition, on the other hand, decreased by one third, with no prevalence between boys or girls. 



  • Nutrition is necessary, and needs to be given a higher priority by nations to reach MDG1. The solutions are affordable and easily implemented, and hold long lasting impacts. Improved maternal nutrition and care to ensure heavier birth weight and breast feeding for the first six months of life are two examples that would add to the success rates of areas struggling to meet MDG1.


Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people. 

Progress Report

  • In developing regions, the majority of workers are engaged in “vulnerable employment” defined by informal working arrangments, lack of adequate social protection, low pay and difficult working conditions. This is especially true in developing economies like South Asia and South Africa, who hold lower youth employment rates than their counterparts, but have extremely high vulnerable employment levels. 
  • The level of vulnerable employment stayed mostly the same between 2008-2009 in both developing and developed regions with an increase in Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia.


  • One of out four youth in the Middle East and North Africa are unemployed. In both those regions, the unemployment rate has rested at 25% for the last three generations.
  • Countries, both developed and developing, are unable to create sufficient, meaningful employment to absorb the large working-age populations, leading to a lag in the employment sector. The International Labour Organization is warning of a "scarred generation" due to the lack of job prospects for youth despite high levels of education worldwide that they recieve, resulting in social unrest and uprisings all over the world including the Arabic Spring which found it's largest supporters in younger generations.
  • "Facts and Figures on Global Employment - An Interview with ILO's Steven Kapsos"  Click here

  • "True or false: Myths of youth unemployment"  Click here.

Current Projects

Here are some example of projects created to help struggling areas meet the MDG1 of creating meaningful employment:

  • The United Nations Development Programme  is supporting the “National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme”. The scheme guarantees a minimum of 100 days of paid work per year for landless laborers and marginal farmers in India. So far, 46 million households have been improved by the program, with half of the benefactors being women.
  • The Argentinian government implemented an employment program “Jefes Y Jefas de Hogar” that employed 2 million workers in its first year. This program was a major contributor to Argentina’s rapid poverty reduction from 9.9% in 2002 to 4.5% in 2005. 



“The Millennium Development Goals Report 2011”, the United Nations, June 2012.

“The Millennium Development Goals Report 2011”, the United Nations, June 2011.

“We Can End Poverty 2015 – Fact Sheet”, UN Department of Public Information, September 2010.    




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