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    Poverty and underdevelopment remain daunting challenges for social and human development in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Approximately half of the population lives below the international poverty line of US $1 per day, according to the International Council on Social Welfare. Poverty in SADC is made worse by several factors, which include:

    • High levels of disease, in particular HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis;
    • Social and civil conflict;
    • Natural disasters, such as recurrent droughts and floods that reduce food security;
    • Unemployment; and
    • Low industrial growth and Productivity, which is reinforced by high levels of migration of skilled labour out of the region

    Plans for Development

    In recognition of these challenges, the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2003) has set a number of long-term social and human development targets aligned with those of the Millennium Development Goals. These broad targets are as follows:

    • By 2015, all Member States should have achieved universal primary education and ensured that all children complete a full course of primary schooling;
    • Enrolment gaps between boys and girls should be closed at all levels of Education by no later than 2015;
    • By 2015, under-five mortality rates in all Member States should be reduced by two-thirds of 1990 rates in all Member States;
    • By 2015, maternal mortality rates in all Member States should be reduced by three-quarters of 1990 rates; and
    • All Member States should halt the progression and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases by 2015.

    SADC’s mandate is to promote Investment, Efficiency, and Competitiveness in the global economy and to improve the quality of lives of the region's population. These goals can only be achieved by fostering educated, skilled, healthy, and productive 'human resources'.

    Although the SADC region has made significant progress related to social and human development over the last decade, there are a number of major challenges that still need to be addressed, including those discussed in the following key topics:

    • Employment & Labour

      Employment levels and labour productivity in the SADC region are generally low. Read more about SADC efforts to reverse this trend by addressing its social and human development challenges.

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    • Education & Skills Development

      Over the last 50 years, enrolment in education has increased at every level, for both genders, within the SADC region. Read more about SADC initiatives to improve education and training across the region.

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    • Science, Technology & Innovation

      SADC’s vision is to develop a region where science, technology and innovation drive sustainable social and economic development, alleviate poverty and disease, and underpin the creation of employment opportunities and wealth. Read more about SADC activities with the realm of science, technology and innovation.

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    • Orphans, Vulnerable Children & Youth

      According to UNICEF in 2006, SADC is home to more than 17 million orphans and the HIV and AIDS pandemic threatens to make the situation worse over the next two decades. Read more about SADC efforts to address this growing problem.

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