In 2000, the Bolivarian government of Venezuela embraced the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to achieve a better standard of living for the entire population. Venezuela’s remarkably rapid achievement of most of the MDGs compared to every other country in the world is a result of the Chavez government’s implementation of economic and social policies based on the principles underlying 21st century socialism, which give priority to social investment for collective welfare and development. Since the election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998, social investment in Venezuela has grown from just 8.4% of GDP to 18.8% of GDP in 2008. In contrast, social spending in all the advanced capitalist countries has declined in real terms.
The Millennium Development Goals and Venezuela’s achievements
Goal 1: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
- The 29.8% of people living in extreme poverty in 2003 was drastically reduced to 9.4% in the first half of 2007, and then to 6.8% in 2011, while the overall poverty index fell from 49% in 1998 to 24.2% by the end of 2009.
- Through the Mercal network, 6,048 new facilities serving nutritionally balanced food to the most needy were established in 2008. Nationally, the government-subsidised Mercal network now includes 16,529 food distribution establishments, which benefit more than half the population, who buy their food at lower cost.
- Between 1998 and 2010, Venezuela’s food production increased by 44%, the result of new policies that have progressively eliminated large estates and recovered more than 3 million hectares of land suitable for agriculture; recognised the importance of food security and sovereignty; granted supplies to small farmers to cultivate the land; and financed and provided technical training to food producers.
Goal 2: Ensure that by 2015 children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
- Between 1991 and 2008, enrolment in primary education increased to 91.9%.
- Between 2008 and 2009, enrolment in primary education grew further, to 92.33%
- There has been a significant growth in overall participation in the education system, from a 31.25% increase between 1990 and 1998, to a 47.56% increase between 1999 and 2006.
- In 2005, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization declared Venezuela free of illiteracy, and recently put it among the top five countries in terms of access to university education.
Goal 3: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and to all levels of education by no later than 2015.
- The school participation ratio of girls to boys is very low, reflecting no gender discrimination in access to education.
- In university education, women’s participation increased by 1.46% in 2009 and there are now more women enrolled in university than men.
Goal 4: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.
- The infant mortality rate of 19 per 1,000 live births in 1999 has been significantly reduced, to 13.7 per 1000 live births in 2007.
- Through the work of Mision Barrio Adentro, Venezuela is on track to reduce that rate to 8.6 per 1,000 live births by 2015.
Goal 5: Reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio.
- The maternal mortality rate decreased to 56.8 per 100,000 live children in 2007. As this is still too high, comprehensive care for pregnant women has been made a priority by the government, which is implementing the following programs:
o Proyecto Madre (Mother Project)
o Improvement of the country’s health care network (Barrio Adentro I, II and III)
o Mision Nino Jesus
o The National Sexual and Reproductive Health Program.
Goal 6: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
- In 2003, the Bolivarian government launched the HIV/AIDS National Strategic Plan (Penvih).
- The number of people receiving free antiretroviral therapy increased from 1,059 in 1999 to 25,657 in 2008.
- Since 2000, seven new vaccines have been incorporated into the national strategy for disease prevention. In 2008 alone, more than 32 million doses were administered and, through Mision Barrio Adentro, 8,656,988 doses have been produced, more than ever before in Venezuela’s history.
- Between 2005 and 2009 there was a reduction in malaria cases.
- Between 2007 and 2010, the number of dengue cases reduced by 18%.
- In 1998 there were only 1,628 primary health care physicians in Venezuela. Through the establishment of Barrio Adentro in 2003 to provide free health care to the population, the number of doctors has increased dramatically, to more than 19,500 in 2009.
Goal 7: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs, and reverse the loss of environmental resources. Halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
- Under Mision Arbol, established in 2006, more than 2,000 conservation committees involving more than 50,000 members have planted 22,000 acres of trees in Venezuela.
- In 2005, a program for the elimination of tetraethyl lead in gasoline was enforced, resulting in the lowest levels of this polluting agent.
- Herbicide and pesticide use has progressively reduced in recent years.
- The Ministry of People’s Power for the Environment will receive $675 million from the 2012 national budget to develop policies, strategies, plans and actions aimed at boosting environmental conservation and education. Current projects include a national plan to apply the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and extending environmental education and community participation in environmental preservation.
- Between 1990 and 2007 there was an increase from 68% to 92% in the proportion of people with sustainable access to safe drinking water, which has benefited more than 24 million people throughout Venezuela.
Goal 8: Make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications.
- The Bolivarian government has started an aerospace program and put into orbit the first Venezuelan satellite, called Simon Bolivar.
- Venezuela’s National Technological Literacy Plan provides training to regular and specialised users in the use and management of information and communication technologies. By late 2009, 620,574 people had been trained in the use of computers and related tools around the country, and more than 1 million Venezuelans had become technologically literate. A new network of 782 Infocentros (Infocentres) make information and communication technologies available to the general population at little or no cost.
- In 2009, the Canaima Project: Educational Use of ICTs was launched to provide every primary school student with a free Linux-based Classmate laptop and involve families, schools and communities in the learning process.
- In 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization awarded the Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize to Venezuela’s Infocentro Foundation for its project “Technological Literacy for Older Adults.”
· In 2011, Venezuela opened the second Infocenter for the visually impaired, part the National Technological Literacy Plan to include all visually impaired people. Twenty-two states in Venezuela now have the equipment to enable visually impaired people to access technological literacy.