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Overseas Development Institute highlights progress in development across the world

1 December 2010

ODI launches seven new case studies showcasing concrete progress in Africa and Asia

Britain's leading think tank on international development, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) is launching new case studies of outstanding progress in development from seven countries in Africa and Asia.

The case studies from Cambodia, Eritrea, India, Indonesia, Laos, Mauritius, and Namibia, form part of the research project 'Development Progress Stories'. The project seeks to describe and understand examples of development progress to inform the global debate on international engagement and development financing.

The case studies look at:

  • Sustained progress in economic conditions in Mauritius: the island has successfully translated economic growth into concrete poverty reduction and improvements in human development.
  • Progress in providing employment for the poor in India: the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is the largest rights-based employment guarantee programme in the world, reaching over 40 million households. Through MGNREGA the government has successfully integrated a rights-based poverty reduction programme into the Indian Constitution.
  • Progress in healthcare in Eritrea: Despite profound poverty, it is one of the few countries expected to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the health sector. Dramatic reductions in infant and child mortality rates, and the halving of HIV prevalence in a very short period.
  • The rebuilding of basic education in Cambodia: substantial progress in re-establishing an inclusive primary and secondary education system after years of instability and civil war, with almost all children now entering school.
  • Indonesia's progress on governance:transformation from a militarised state into a story of 'big-bang decentralisation' devolving decision-making authority to local levels.
  • Progress in sanitation in Laos: Rapid increase in access to improved sanitation in rural areas, from an extremely low base (an estimated 10% in 1995 to 38% in 2008). Lao PDR's progress is striking when compared to other least-developed countries (LDCs) with similar low coverage baselines.
  • Sustainable natural resource management in Namibia: putting wildlife conservation in local hands and showing the potential to generate real wealth and gains for disadvantaged groups.

Alison Evans, Director of the Overseas Development Institute said: 'This set of case studies provides further evidence that sustained progress is possible, and sometimes in unexpected places. This should be good news for policy makers as they consider ways to improve the results focus of development assistance'.

The launch coincides with the gathering of EU members, academics, NGO representatives and business leaders in Brussels for the European Development Days 2010 on 6-7 December, which will showcase the EU's continuing and enduring commitment to international development.

The stories are all available to download from In the coming months, ODI will complete the online publication of a planned library of twenty-four case studies, each highlighting progress from a different country, and will produce a Development Progress Stories synthesis report early in 2011.

This research is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

1 December 2010

Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report Card

Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report Card

Measuring Progress Across Countries


This report presents data on how countries are closing in on the MDG targets. It unpacks the targets and indicators to map out how the development process is playing out across countries and continents.

ISBN: 978-1-907288-29-6



The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have provided an important motivational force and yardstick for this progress. In their design, the goals were deliberately ambitious, their achievement requiring unparalleled progress in most countries. The fact that many countries will achieve a significant number of the goals and transform the quality of life of hundreds of millions of people should be a sign of hope and a spur to action for others. The challenge for their remaining five years and beyond is to learn from and build on this progress.

This report presents data on how countries are closing in on the MDG targets. It unpacks the targets and indicators to map out how the development process is playing out across countries and continents. It goes beyond standard global and country-level assessments to provide insights into how these gains are being shared across income, rural-urban and gender groups. It identifies the 'star' performers that have made the greatest gains, shines a light on unexpected outcomes from the pursuit of the MDG targets and sounds out warnings where progress has stalled or is heading in the wrong direction.

It reveals the remarkable achievements of countries such as: Ethiopia, where the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day fell from 61% to 29% in 18 years and primary enrolment increased from 22% to 72% in 16 years. Angola and Niger, which have reduced their under-five mortality ratios by more than 100 per 1,000 deaths in less than two decades.

The success of India and China - the world's most populous countries. But it also highlights where countries are falling short of meeting their targets. It goes beyond the MDG targets to show that progress on a number of indicators masks inequity within countries, in some cases rising inequity. It reveals the countries where the poorest members of society are losing out to wealthier groups despite big strides towards meeting the MDG targets.

8 November 2010


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