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The United Nations today unveiled a new tool to help countries identify and overcome barriers in achieving the ambitious anti-poverty targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015, ranging from ending poverty and hunger to expanding access to education and improving maternal and child health.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Acceleration Framework, an innovative approach to speed up progress on the targets, was presented by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on the margins of a high-level summit at UN Headquarters to discuss how to advance the Goals.

It addresses disparities and inequalities, one of the major causes of uneven MDG progress across and within countries, by responding to the needs of the most vulnerable – the poorest of the poor, women and ethnic minorities, UNDP noted in a news release.

“The Framework enables governments and development partners to identify systematically the bottlenecks preventing MDG progress, as well as the tested and proven solutions which can help overcome them,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

Addressing a panel at which the Framework was presented, she noted that there is now a great deal of evidence about both the obstacles to MDG progress and how to overcome them.

“That evidence reveals that there is a range of tried and tested policies which, adapted to national contexts, will ensure MDG progress, where there is the leadership, capacity, and funding to implement them,” she stated.

Ten countries began to pilot the new approach earlier this year, first choosing specific off-track targets as their main focus area and then identifying the constraints, the practical solutions to address them and the partners to help implement those solutions.

Togo has identified the lack of access to fertilizers, improved seeds and support to farmers as a major obstacle to progress on the poverty reduction goal, while Ghana and Uganda are both working on improving maternal health and Belize is focusing on improving access to water and sanitation.

Meanwhile, the Framework is being used in Jordan and Tanzania to enhance food security, in Tajikistan to facilitate access to energy for the poor, in Papua New Guinea to help attain education goals, and in Colombia to tackle deeply entrenched inequality. Laos is also using the new approach to boost progress on the MDGs overall.

“The Assessment gives us a foundation for action as we seek to accelerate progress over the next five years,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “We know what works. We are also learning more about how to take success in one country, and adapt it to generate gains in another.”

Mr. Ban noted that the experiences of the pilot countries illustrate the importance of understanding the obstacles and how to overcome them.

“Sometimes our efforts are hindered by the lack of money. Developing countries themselves need to mobilize money and direct it to the services and investments that poor people care about. Donors need to make good on their promises.

“We are also often impeded by a lack of capacity – of people and of institutions. We need to unblock these and other bottlenecks and unlock the progress we know is possible,” he said.