With two and a half years to go until 2015, the deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), progress has been mixed. The spread of some diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, is being brought under control. In China, the proportion of people living on under a dollar a day has been halved. At the same time, though, the number of those living on under a dollar a day in sub-Saharan Africa has dropped by a measly one percent. Why such uneven progress?