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In 2000, world leaders made commitments to eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This page explains how the data on this site relate to the MDGs. For a full explanation of the MDGs, as well as comprehensive reports on progress, see

The data on this website cover seven sectors which correspond to most of the Millennium Development Goals.


MDG Target 1MDG Target 1.C is to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. Tracking spending on agriculture and food allows us to see how much is being spent to achieve this, as well as for agricultural development, which (because most poor people in low-income countries rely on agriculture for their livelihoods) can lift many poor people out of poverty.


MDG Target 2MDG Target 2.A is to ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Tracking spending on primary (or in some countries "basic" – primary plus early secondary) education allows us to see how much is being spent to achieve this goal. Over time we will improve the tracking of spending to cover other aspects of the Education for All goals, such as pre-school care and adult literacy.


MDG Target 7MDG Target 7.A is to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources; and MDG Target 7.B is to
Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss. By tracking spending on the environment we aim to cover these targets as well as other environment spending, increasingly including spending to combat climate change.


MDG Target 3MDG Target 3.A is to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015. However, the MDGs go much further in terms of aiming to promote equality in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector, and the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments. The Government Spending Watch database tracks all spending by Women's Ministries or Agencies, as being the key spending which is not covered by other sectors and aims specifically to promote women's development. Insofar as governments ensure that other spending is targeted equally to men and women, this probably represents a major underestimate of spending oriented towards women, but no countries have accurate assessments of the degree to which this is the case.


Three of the MDGs are specifically related to health issues: MDGs 4, 5 and 6. Their targets relate to

MDG Target 4Infant mortality, with MDG Target 4.A to reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate;



MDG Target 5Maternal mortality, with MDG Target 5.A to reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio; and MDG Target 5.B to Achieve universal access to reproductive health; and



MDG Target 6Combating key diseases, with MDG Target 6.A to have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS; Target 6.B to Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it; and Target 6.C to Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and tuberculosis

Tracking health spending allows us to assess the efforts being made to reach all of these targets, as well as to improve overall health systems in countries. Over time we will improve the disaggregation of spending as much as possible to see how much is being spent on programmes targeted more closely to the individual health MDGs.

Social Protection

MDG Target 1MDG Target 1.A is to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day, and MDG Target 1.B is to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people. All government spending which boosts economic development for the poor and promotes inclusive and employment-intensive growth can help meet these two goals. Nevertheless, this site does not include all growth-promoting expenditure, such as infrastructure, because it is not possible to assess how much of it will impact on poverty and employment. The data on this site focus on the most direct government interventions: social protection spending - social insurance and assistance which provide income for the poorest and most vulnerable groups as well as direct employment promotion interventions.

Water and Sanitation

MDG Target 7Target 7.C is to halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Monitoring spending on water and sanitation allows us to see how much emphasis governments and donors are placing on these goals.

Target 7.D is by 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers. It has not been possible yet to separate out the amounts being spent in slum areas in government budgets, from broader government housing and other programmes. Over time we will aim to identify this spending

MDG Target 8MDG8 relates to the Global Partnership and contains a series of targets on trade, debt, aid, essential drugs, new technologies and the special needs of least developed, landlocked and small island countries. This site looks only at how aid is contributing to government spending, by tracking the amounts spent from aid which goes through developing country budgets, in the various sectors discussed above.

Note: Two of the MDGs are not fully covered by this site.


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The data on this site allows citizens to hold their governments to account for their promises

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