San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Millennium Development Goals Face Hurdles in Latin America

World leaders met in the year 2000 to create a plan establishing goals focused on the eradication of extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease.

Organized by the United Nations, the group also aimed to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women, environmental sustainability and a global partnership for development.

However, in Latin America and the Caribbean, rising food prices and the current economic crisis threaten to cast doubt on progress toward meeting some of these Millennium Development Goals, according to a recent United Nations report.

The report includes an update on how this region fares with respect to achieving the group’s goals, one of which was to cut extreme poverty levels by half by the year 2015.

Latin America and the Caribbean progressed in the fight against poverty from 1999 to 2005, as the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 per day fell from 11 percent to 8 percent. However, the recent upswing in food prices has begun to reverse that trend, and the food and agriculture organization of the United Nations reports that 53 million people in Central America suffer from extreme poverty.

The Latin American and Caribbean region is the leader in efforts to achieve gender parity in parliamentary representation, with 22 seats held by women, up 15 percent since the year 2000. The region has reached its target goal of gender parity in education, and it claims the most women in paid non-agricultural employment (45 percent in 2007).

The study also shows that the Latin American and Caribbean region is reducing the death rate of children under five years of age. This rate decreased from 54 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990 to 24 deaths in 2007. According to the report, the further reduction of the infant death rate is a probability.

–Adam Williams

For a copy of the report, visit


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