Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (MDG 1)

Less poverty, less hunger

© UNICEF/HQ05-1219/LeMoyne
Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, the first Millennium Development Goal, captures an age-old aspiration to improve the most basic human condition and will be a catalyst to achieving all the Goals.

Poverty was central to the discussions by leaders at the G8 summit in Gleneagles (Scotland) in July 2005. So that children could join the global dialogue, UNICEF held a parallel, summit, known as the ‘C8 Children’s Forum’, in nearby Dunblane. Young attendees from around the world made an urgent call for G8 leaders to put children first when making their decisions.

Hunger is both a consequence and a cause of child poverty. The second target of the Goal, to reduce by half the number of people who suffer from hunger, uses the proportion of underweight children as one indicator of progress. Three countries, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, account for half the developing world’s underweight children. If child undernutrition is not addressed successfully in these and other countries, it will be difficult to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals.

Addressing micronutrient deficiency

Addressing micronutrient deficiency, one component of underweight, has made a significant contribution towards reaching MDG targets. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are recognized as a global health problem affecting 2 billion people. Pregnant and lactating women and young children are most vulnerable because they have a greater need for vitamins and minerals, and they are more susceptible to the harmful consequences of deficiencies.

Among the direct, positive implications for all of the Millennium Development Goals: Proper amounts of iodine can have an impact on poverty (Goal 1) and education outcomes (Goal 2); vitamin A supplementation has a direct impact on child health (Goal 4); provision of multiple micronutrients is tremendously important for women of childbearing age and affects their health during pregnancy, whether they survive childbirth (Goal 5), and the baby’s birthweight and health during breastfeeding (Goal 4).

In response to the Indian Ocean tsunami, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the World Food Programme issued a joint statement in early 2005 on the need to provide vitamin and mineral supplements to groups affected by emergencies.