I'm Shep O'Neal with the VOA Special English Development Report.
A new report says an increase in development aid has improved health and education levels in some of the world's poorest countries. But the United Nations report says poverty rates in these countries are not improving overall.
Development aid has increased since two thousand two. Still, the report says severe poverty continues to worsen, in part because of H.I.V./AIDS. Environmental conditions also add to poverty. The report says climate change already affects many low-lying and island nations, and more problems are likely in the years to come.
The report does show some areas of progress, however, which it credits to direct aid. For example, there are signs of improvement in many countries in elementary education and adult-reading levels. Other social measures including equality between males and females are also improving, but remain the lowest in the world.
Many of the fifty countries rated as least developed have had strong economic growth in recent years. More than half recorded average yearly growth rates of four percent or more between two thousand and two thousand four. The report notes the effects of economic reforms, and the gains that oil producing countries have made from high oil prices.
But in eighteen of the least developed countries, the economies shrank between nineteen ninety and two thousand four. And seven of these nations also saw a drop in their life expectancy, often because of AIDS.
For example, the life expectancy of people in Lesotho dropped sharply between nineteen ninety and two thousand five. It fell from fifty-eight years to thirty-six.
The report says that in many of the poorest countries, high birth rates are reducing the effects of economic improvements. So is a lack of equality when it comes to who gets resources.
The report is for a meeting this September of the U.N. General Assembly. Delegates will discuss progress halfway through a ten-year Program of Action for the Least Developed Countries.
Of the fifty, thirty-four are in Africa south of the Sahara. Fifteen are in Asia and the Pacific. And one is in the Caribbean: Haiti. Anwarul Chowdhury, the U.N. High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, called on the world to continue to help them.
This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Brianna Blake. If you would like to read and listen to all of our reports online, go to WWW.51VOA.COM I'm Shep O'Neal.