Monday, February 21, 2011

Gambia’s Human Development Index Ranking Drops

The UNDP’s 2010 Global Human Development Report 2010 has placed The Gambia 151 out of 169 countries ranked in its Human Development Index.

The latest ranking means the country has dropped by one per cent from its 2009 ranking.

The Human Development Index (HDI) measures a country’s average achievements in three basic aspects of human development. These are health, education and income.

The HDI ranking is part of the UNDP’s Global Human Development Report 2010 on the theme ‘The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development’. It was launched by the Vice President, Dr Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy on Wednesday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel. The 2010 HDR is the 20th anniversary of the edition. The report was launched at global level by the UNDP Administrator Helen Clark on 4th November 2010.

The Gambia is ranked below many countries in the region including Ghana (130), Benin (134), Nigeria (142), Senegal (144), and above some countries such as Sierra Leone (158), Mali (160) and Liberia (162).

The HDI was introduced as an alternative to conventional measures of national development, such as level of income and the rate of economic growth. The HDI was created to emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone.

In her launching statement, the Vice President of The Gambia, Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, said: “An analysis using the gender inequality index, as stated in the 2010 report, noted that investments in girls and women to have equal educational and employment opportunities, access to health services, participation in decision-making at all levels, is a catalyst to a nation’s human development given its multiplier effects.”

Against this backdrop, she said, The Gambia is poised to achieving universal primary education by 2015 “as parity was attained at this level as early as 2003”. “The Net Enrolment Ratio rose from a low of 45 per cent between 1991/1992 to about 75 per cent in 2008/2009,” she added.

On health, the Vice President said that some significant progress have been made focusing on the three health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4, 5, and 6 and relevant targets such as child and maternal mortality, and morbidity; HIV/AIDs; and Malaria reduction.

She continued: “Overall, there has been considerable achievement in child survival as infant mortality rate according to national census dropped from 217 per 1000 in 1973 to 75 per 1000 live births in 2003. Maternal mortality also declined from 1050 per 100,000 in 1990 to 730 per 100,000 in 2001 and 556 per 100,000 live births in 2006.

On the other hand, the prevalence of HIV infection dropped from 2.8 per cent in 2006 to 1.4 per cent in 2007, whereas, HIV 2 dropped from 0.9 in 2006 to 0.5 per cent in 2007 receptively.

On malaria, recent data from the six sentinel sites showed that the incidence of malaria has been declining in the country. “The number of under-five year old children sleeping under insecticide treaded bed nets has increased from 15 per cent in 2000 to 49 per cent in year 2006,” she said.

The HDR 2010 adopted the holistic approach by using a variety of information related to different aspects of human life, concentrating on what remains to be done, and focusing on key priorities such as climate change, mortality and morbidity, poverty and deprivation, as well as inequality and insecurity, with room to accommodate new concerns and considerations including forecasts of the natural levels of the Human Development Index.

Janis James, who spoke on behalf of the UNDP resident coordinator, Ms Chinwe Dike, and the Vice Chancellor of the University of The Gambia, also spoke at length about the report and its significance.

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