Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty

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 MDG Goal 1 Eradicate hunger and poverty (Poster by: Maram Taibah)

According to the National Millennium Goals Report (2011), poverty reduction is a central objective of economic and social development. However, poverty is not limited to material deprivation, but has many other dimensions such as hunger, lack of adequate shelter, inability to secure medical treatment, lack of access to or drop out of education and schooling, illiteracy, and unemployment. In a strict sense, however, poverty refers to inability to satisfy basic living needs for food, clothing, shelter and healthcare, due to low and limited income. Thus, combating poverty and its ramifications takes many forms that cut across sectors and approaches.

Wide availability of educational, health, and social security services in all parts of the Kingdom to all targeted and needy groups has confined poverty to small pockets. However, citing the fact that poverty is limited is not meant to detract from the importance of combating it; but merely to put it in its right perspective in order to provide the necessary remedies for it.

As a result of the major steps and effective measures taken to accelerate all aspects of socio-economic development, the Kingdom has made considerable progress in its efforts to contain and to restrict poverty to limited pockets. Within the framework of eradicating all levels of poverty, Saudi Arabia prepared the National Social Development Strategy. Led by the Ministry of Social affairs, the strategy adopts a comprehensive perspective with respect to the poverty problem and the mechanisms to be pursued in addressing the problem. Under this strategy, poverty rates will be reduced through improvement of living conditions of the poor. Efforts in this regard will seek to increase income levels of the poor, provide them with basic services, upgrade their education and health levels, develop their capabilities and skills and, enable their effective participation in the development process. However, the focus of the strategy is not confined to addressing the poverty issue, as it also stresses maintaining the living standard of other citizens, particularly middle income groups, with efforts seeking to help them avoid falling into the poverty trap.

The Kingdom's efforts to contain poverty have borne fruit. Data available under the National Social Development Strategy indicate that the proportion of Saudi households living under the extreme poverty line (food poverty) stood at 0.08% in 2004, but declined to some 0.06% in 2009, amounting to a drop of 25%. Thus, The Kingdom has achieved the 1 MDG goal of eradication of food poverty well ahead of the target year of 2015. Another positive aspect in this regard is that the Kingdom has set the extreme poverty level at near two US Dollars per person per day, which exceeds the MDG level of one US Dollar.In Saudi Arabia, the percentage of families living under extreme poverty was 1.63% in 2004 to 0.8 in 2008, Prevalence of underweight children under five 5 years of age decreased from *6.4% in 2006 to 5.3% in 2010.

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