The Army and the MDGs

An international effort to eradicate poverty

by Christin Davis –

Much of The Salvation Army’s work around the world centers on the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were signed by 189 Heads of State and governments in 2000. The goals were renewed in 2008 with an achievement date set for 2015.

Broadly, the goal is to eradicate poverty and achieve basic human rights for all people in areas like education, maternal and child health and environmental sustainability (see for more information). To measure the goals, nations report progress to the UN and the Secretary General reports on international progress to the General Assembly.

The Army’s International Social Justice Commission (ISJC) works in conjunction with a number of United Nations committees to achieve the goals internationally, and The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) measures its progress based on these eight goals.

“All of SAWSO’s work actively supports at least one of the goals,” said Brian Swarts, microfinance technical advisor for SAWSO. “The goals are tangible and have the power to bring the entire world together to address our most pressing global problems. SAWSO uses the MDGs for evaluation because we believe that the vision of a world without extreme poverty and injustice is a reflection of the mission that God has given his people.”

This eight-part New Frontier series will detail examples of Salvation Army work to accomplish the MDGs. General Shaw Clifton presented much of this information to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon upon their meeting in August 2009.

Goal 1: To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Target 1: Halve the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day.
Target 2: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Target 3: Halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

In a city dump outside Novi Poselak, Ukraine, a number of people spend their days foraging for food in piles of rotten and decaying food scraps; pieces of metal, iron and wood; putrid water; rats and flies. Some even live there. When Salvation Army Captain Alexander Onishenko of the nearby Kirovograd Corps saw people gathering trash at the dump in the freezing weather, he found a cook and along with another officer, Captain Konstantin Svab, the Army now delivers and serves food at the dump six months out of the year (because of budget constraints).

Ten to 15 people from the dump now attend a weekly Army service at an apartment area nearby. The Army also brings cold medicine and clothing when possible, and refers people to hospitals, tuberculosis clinics and rehabilitation centers.

“Many people were surprised at our work at the dump and didn’t want to get involved at all,” Svab said. “But we couldn’t abandon these people; they have so many medical, emotional and spiritual problems. They have become our friends.”

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Goal 6: Combat AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Goal 8: A global partnership for development

See more about the MDGs at and in the spring 2010 issue of Caring, to be released in March.

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