The report on the Millennium Development Goals adopted by world leaders in 2000 also noted a slowdown in reducing child mortality, with 11 million children under the age of five still dying every year from preventable causes.
On a global level, the report showed the target on poverty reduction to be achievable thanks largely to dramatic progress in Asia, but the dire situation in Africa reflected “huge gaps” in meeting vital human needs.
The number of people living on less than one dollar a day in sub-Saharan Africa rose by 86 million from 1990 to 313 million in 2001.
In all, an estimated one billion people – or one in five people in the developing world – still live below the extreme poverty line.
“For the very poor in sub-Saharan Africa, the average income actually fell, from 62 cents a day in 1990 to 60 cents in 2001,” the report said.
The findings are likely to increase pressure on the leaders of the world’s richest countries ahead of next month’s G8 summit, where Africa will be a priority item.
Prospects were significantly brighter in Asia where economic growth in the world’s most populous countries, China and India, helped reduce the number of people in extreme poverty by 250 million from 1990 to 2001.
The number of hungry people in the world stood at 815 million in 2002 – down nine million from 1990 – but the overall reduction was offset, once again, by Africa where the number increased by tens of millions.