In this section we feature a selection of the statistics relevant to enterprise solutions to poverty.
We are not interested in statistics for their own sake. We are interested in what they 'tell' us about the world we live in, so that our attitudes and actions can be more effective because they are better informed.
The United Nations Development Programme produced its first Human Development Report in 1990. The compilers of that report struck an optimistic note: 'The 1990s are shaping up as the decade for human development.' Much of this optimism was well founded – since 1990 we have seen substantial improvements including:
Huge challenges remain, however. The 2005 Human Development Report notes that:
These statistics teach a simple but important lesson: development gains over the last fifteen years should neither be underestimated nor exaggerated. Much has been achieved but much remains to be done.
The 2005 Human Development Report can be downloaded here.
During the last decade, economic development have lifted millions of people out of poverty. Consider these statistics:
Such positive statistics, though seldom quoted by intellectuals or by the media, ought to be highlighted and celebrated.
However, as reported in the box above, there is still plenty of cause for concern. Here are some further reasons why:
The economic rise of China and India, the world's most populous countries, accounts for much of the progress toward poverty reduction. As home to more than 2.3 billion people, their advances in poverty reduction drive down averages for the developing world as a whole.
The poverty rate in China dropped from 33% to 17% between 1990 and 2001. In India, it dropped from 42% to 35%.
China's low population growth rate and rapid poverty reduction rates have decreased its poverty headcount by nearly 165 million people since 1990. By contrast, India's declining poverty rates have been offset by population growth, so the number of people there in absolute poverty remains unchanged at approximately 360 million people.
All these statistics and more can be found in the UN Millennium Project's Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals (Earthscan, 2005), pp. 13-14.
Click here to download.
The UK government's Department for International Development (DFID) produces fact sheets that focus on each of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Whatever the deficiencies of the MDGs (we note William Easterly's criticism of the MDGs under the 'Resources' section of Enterprise Excellence 3), they do provide a means by which awareness of poverty and its alleviation can be spread more widely.
The first of the MDGs is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The target associated with it is to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day.
DFID wish to communicate the following key messages about this goal:
DFID also provide the following key facts and figures to accompany these messages:
Provided economic growth remains on track, DFID is confident that 12.5% of the world's population will be in poverty in 2015 and that this will mean that the target is achieved.
For DFID's view on the obstacles to improvement and what it is doing, alongside international institutions, to remove them, click here. This link also provides case studies of DFID-funded initiatives designed to tackle poverty in Southern Africa.