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We are heading towards a foreseeable catastrophe



The report on Human Development delivered by the UNDP

13/09/2005: General House

“Every hour 1,200 children die: the equivalent of three tsunamis every month for a year.” With these words the United Nations Development Programme presented its report and then added: “We are heading towards a foreseeable catastrophe.”
It is an antiphon for the meetings of world leaders together at the United Nations Headquarters, the same place where, in 2000, the “Declaration for the Millennium” was signed that foresaw that by 2005 extreme poverty would be halved, the number of deaths among children would be wiped out and that school would be available to all.
In 2005, the panorama is still worrying. The report congratulates Norway, considered for the fifth consecutive year as the number one country for the level of human development (Oslo celebrates by increasing donations to Africa), and rated Niger in the 177th and last position. It shows a world of inequality where 10% of Brazilians, the most needy, are poorer than the poor in Vietnam.
It also shows positive elements: 1.2 billion people now have access to potable water. Vietnam has halved the poverty of income from 60% in 1990 to 30% in 2000 and has also reduced the infant mortality rate. This shows Uganda and China that rapid progress is possible.
But eighteen countries have indicated worse development that in 1990. Twelve of them are in the sub-Saharan Africa, destroyed by AIDS. The other six used to be part of the USSR. It means that 460 million people are worse off.
Two anomalies are becoming evident about the helpers. The first is that rich countries offer little: 0.25% of the Pil (the worst are the USA, 0.15%, Italy 0.17% and Japan, 0.20%). And the second is that the donors link their help to the acquisition of their products and in this way the ones who receive money must spend at least 20% more.

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