Together in the fight against poverty
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

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The challenge

1.1 billion people in the world are hungry.

We have all experienced a simple pang of hunger once in a while – but prolonged starvation? This is what many people in the developing world endure every day, and many more suffer from the effects of malnutrition, because they simply can’t afford to buy enough fruit, vegetables and meat to give them the protein, vitamins and minerals we all need.   

Hunger is often an effect of poverty, and being poor does not only mean a lack of money. The UN says “Poverty is a violation of human dignity”. It means not being able to participate effectively in society. Which by definition can mean not having:

  • enough money to get food or clothes;
  • a school or clinic to go to;
  • the land on which to grow food;
  • access to clean water or sanitation;
  • a job to earn a living.

Providing people with the means to meet their basic needs – this in a nutshell is what the first goal is about.

Our plan: to halve by 2015 the number of people suffering from hunger as well as the number of people living on less than a dollar a day, and to allow everybody, particularly women and young people, to have decent work.

How are we doing?

how are we doing

The goal of halving the proportion of people living under the poverty line by 2015 is within reach. However, the economic and financial crisis has halted the downward trend in poverty and unemployment.

Progress is uneven across regions: in East Asia, poverty fell from 60% in 1990 to 16% in 2005, but the poverty rate is stagnating around 50% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Our action

Sustainable growth, jobs and competitiveness drive the EU’s actions.  In practice, the EU tries to:

  • help poor countries deal with the surge in food prices – EUR 1 billion have been dedicated to ensure food security in 50 developing countries between 2009 and 2011;
  • strengthen agriculture, a key factor in ending poverty. It helps farmers diversify their production to face disasters such as droughts and floods, and to develop environment-friendly practices

Quick facts

  • 1.4 billion – the number of people living with less than $1 a day. This is more than the population of the European Union and the United States combined!
  • 50% of the deaths of small children are due to malnutrition

From the field

Peruvian woman with children working in a cabbage field © European Union, 1995-2010

Giving the right training to find jobs in Peru

The PROPOLI project aims to contribute to the social and economic integration of lower-income families in the region, through social programmes carried out in cooperation with local strategic partners.

Woman farmer in front of a field of sunflowers – Jenda, Malawi © European Union, 1995-2010

Develop agricultural activities and infrastructure in Malawi

This program is designed to develop agricultural activities and infrastructures in order to create jobs, facilitate the access to markets and reduce poverty.


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