According to the 2010 edition of World Development Indicators published by the World Bank, the number of people living in extreme poverty has greatly reduced in the past decade. The greatest reduction has been observed in East Asia and the Pacific regions. A rather close contender, South Asia, has also shown signs of vast improvement. Even in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region of grave concern, the report provides evidence for optimistic thought. Though the population in developing countries is continually increasing, the report proves expectant in its claim that the number of people living in extreme poverty will be reduced to 90 million by the year 2015. As a matter of clarification, in the context of World Development Indicators, people are considered to be living in extreme poverty if they obtain their basic means for survival on less than $1.25 a day.
The United Nations Development Programme published a similar report in order to properly assess whether progress has been made toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Based on the assessment of 50 countries, the report makes a similar claim to the World Bank and provides evidence for reduced poverty rates. The report continues to list the Millennium Development Goals. It is worth noting that the first goal set forth by the United Nations demonstrates the urgency placed on the aim to cut the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 in half from its 1990 estimate by the year 2015.
In view of this admirable pursuit, proponents claim the microfinance industry is an essential tool for ultimately eradicating poverty. There are those, however, who cast strong doubts on this so-called “humanitarian miracle.” Such critics suggest microfinance initiatives cannot be sustained to improve quality of life and fulfill the promise of alleviating poverty. Though there is no definitive answer amidst this microfinance debate, empirical data published in the State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report 2009 illustrates growth in the number of clients microfinance institutions reach around the world. Despite a recorded growth in industry, whether microfinance initiatives are reaching those in extreme poverty remains an ever-lingering question. The plight of the impoverished is debated among economists and policymakers alike, whilst those in question fight for sheer survival.