Colombia is “far” from attaining the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the number of people who live on less than $1.25 a day by 2015, Portafolio reports.
Colombia’s Director of Planning Hernando Jose Gomez explained that while there are many social programs in the country which offer services such as health and education, not enough is being done to help the poor, which account for 16% of the population, increase their income.
There are currently 2.8 million people living in extreme poverty in Colombia while the national figure for all those below or on the poverty line is around seven million.
Last month, the director of the government’s aid agency Social Action, Diego Molano, said that the goal is to utilize various strategies to bring more than 1.5 million Colombians out of extreme poverty over the next four years.
Colombia currently also has one of the worst Gini coefficients in the world at 0.578. This figure measures income distribution on a scale of 0>1, where the closer the figure is to 0, the more equal a society is.
Despite failing in this area of the MDGs, Colombia is on track with the other seven, having already completed three of them.
The World Bank recently commended the Families in Action program, a conditional cash transfer initiative, for its “strong effects on poverty” and significant impact on school enrolment. The scheme gives nutritional and educational subsidies to the children of very low income, displaced and indigenous families.The World Bank concluded that programs such as this, where the cash transfer represent 15%-25% of total household expenditure, tend to have the largest impact.
Of the other goals where Colombia is succeeding, it is on target to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, and to ensuring that boys and girls alike are able to complete a full course of primary schooling. However World Bank representatives do not think that big investments in education have been very effective.
Colombia is within 10% of achieving two targets; halving the proportion of people with sustainable access to safe drinking water and reducing by two-thirds the under 5 mortality rate which is currently 149 per 1,000.
The country is also “close” to halving by 2015 the proportion of people with sustainable access to basic sanitation and of reducing by three quarters the maternal mortality rate.
Although a report of Colombia’s progress in achieving the MDGs has yet to be carried out, the World Bank Global Monitoring Report 2011 contains relevant data on the country.