The Millennium Development Goals Report 2007: For CIS and South-Eastern Europe, an Up-and-Down Ride
Uneven progress slowing drive to meet Millennium Goals, UN finds.
MOSCOW, 2 July - The transition countries of South-Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have been on a socio-economic roller coaster since the early 1990s, with progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) seemingly tied to the sharp rises and falls of extreme poverty and income inequality, a United Nations study has found.
The study, the Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, said that the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day jumped from less than 1 per cent of the population in the CIS countries and South-Eastern Europe in 1990 to 5.5 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively in the two regions in 2004, and then fell back to the low levels of the pre-transition period of the 1980s.
But the slowdown in extreme poverty was accompanied by rising rates of income inequality in the region, the UN report found.
Inequality in the CIS countries was very low in the 1990s, the report noted. But the share of consumption (or income) by the poorest quintile of the population in the CIS countries went from among the highest among all regions (nearly 8 per cent) in 1990 to just over 6 per cent in 2004.
By the turn of the century, the overall situation was again showing signs of improvement, the report found, although other longstanding problems continued to afflict the CIS and South-Eastern European countries.
The report also pointed to sharp distinctions between CIS countries in Europe and CIS countries in Asia. For instance, in the European countries, the total net enrolment ratio of children in primary school fell from 91 per cent in 1991 to 83 per cent in 1999, and then bounced back to 90 per cent in 2005.
By contrast, primary school enrolment levels in the Asian CIS countries, which were lower than CIS Europe’s in 1990, rose steadily throughout the transition period, reaching 94 per cent in 2005.
Similarly, the report said, the mortality rate for children under the age of 5 declined significantly in the European parts of CIS and in the countries of South-Eastern Europe, dropping to 17 deaths per 1,000 births. By contrast, in the Asian CIS countries, the slow rate of progress was dramatized by figures showing that child mortality there is the third highest among all regions.
Yet the CIS and South-Eastern European countries entered the last decade in a situation of relative advantage compared to all other developing regions. Examples include the relatively high rate of measles immunization (85 per cent coverage in 1990), widespread health care for women in childbirth (which already stood at 99 per cent in 1990); relatively high access to improved sanitation facilities (82 per cent in 1990); and in the declining incidence and prevalence of diseases such as tuberculosis.
But the report found that the region’s slow pace in addressing such problems as poverty eradication, prevention of major infectious diseases and gender equality had impaired progress in moving more rapidly towards implementation of the MDG targets.
In the case of tuberculosis control, the report said, the region will have to step up the pace of its efforts if the MDG target of halving TB prevalence and death rates is to be met. The latest statistics show that the region’s low prevalence of 83 cases per 100,000 in 1990 doubled to 163 cases in 2000.
In the drive for gender equality, women in the CIS and South-Eastern European countries have traditionally enjoyed easy access to paid employment and political participation, the report noted. But with the onset of the transition, parliament representation by women dropped dramatically, since their participation in national politics was no longer guaranteed. The trend has since been reversed, the report found, and women are slowly gaining ground again.
The Millennium Development Goals Report, an annual assessment of regional progress towards the Goals, produced at the request of the General Assembly, is based on data compiled by over 20 organizations both within and outside the UN System. The report is supervised and coordinated by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
For more information and media contacts, please see www.un.org/millenniumgoals