Lesotho, through the Ministry of Development Planning in collaboration with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on Monday launched the 2019 Human Development Report with the aim to measure country’s socioeconomic progress.
The theme of the Report is ‘Beyond income, Beyond average, Beyond today: Inequalities in Human Development in the 21st Century’.
When officially launching the Report at the event held in Maseru, the Minister of Development Planning, Dr Tlohelang Aumane said Lesotho made concerted efforts towards building a strong resource based as envisioned in the long term plan; vision 2020 and National Strategic Development Plan II (NSDP II), saying the NSDP II puts emphasis on the skills development, and health enhancement towards the goal of equitable economic growth.
He remarked that some successes with regards to Human Development have been registered in previous years, mentioning the literacy rate improvement since implementation of free primary education, high levels of secondary enrollment and adult education as well as the declining trend of under-five mortality rate to mention but a few.
However, Dr Aumane said there are still improvements to be made in the Human Development, singling out shortage of qualified human resources in technical and managerial skills, saying this has led to low productivity in the economy and that another major challenge is the mismatched skills, which he stressed needs immediate attention.
Furthermore, he asserted that it is through a well developed human resource base and increased productive capacity that an export-led growth and private sector will be realized, thus equitable and sustainable.
Speaking at the same event, UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Betty Wabunoha said Human Development is about enlarging people’s freedoms, choices and capabilities to live a long and healthy life, being educated, having decent standards of living and enjoying political and civil freedoms to participate in the life of one’s community.
She said Lesotho is listed among the most unequal countries in Africa, saying as per the report, the inequality-adjusted Human Development index sets out the unequal distribution of education, health and living standards,. She added that while Lesotho has recorded an increase of 6 percent from 0.488 in 1990 to 0.518 in 2018, the country also lost 32 percent human development progress due to inequality in 2018.
She added that despite improved gender parity in education, the report shows that African women and girls continue to face deeply entrenched challenges to their human development progress and that Africa has the highest incidence of early marriage and adolescent birth with 36 percent of women being married before their 18th birthday. She however stressed that Lesotho is not an exception in this matter despite the high gender development index, women in Lesotho still face major challenges regarding access to economic opportunities and political empowerment.
Ms. Wabunoha therefore mentioned that improvements to basis capabilities to reduce inequalities is possible, hence called for stronger partnerships, innovations and new metrics to measure inequality.
Meanwhile, the 2019 Human Development Report shows that African countries have made significant strides in advancing human development, gaining ground on primary education and health.
This Report, which pioneers a more precise way to measure countries’ socioeconomic progress shows that just as the gap in basic living standards is narrowing with an unprecedented number of people escaping poverty, hunger and disease, the necessities to thrive have evolved. New inequalities are becoming more pronounced, particularly around tertiary education and the seismic effects of technology and the climate crisis.
For the first time this year, African country, Seychelles is reported to have moved into the very high human development group. Others are rising in the ranks as well. Four countries – Botswana, Gabon, Mauritius and South Africa – are now in the high human development group, and 12 countries that include Angola, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Zambia and Zimbabwe are in the medium human development group.
While poverty rates have declined in across the continent, progress has been uneven. If current trends continue, the Report asserts, nearly 9 of 10 people in extreme poverty, more than 300 million will be in Sub Saharan Africa in 2030.
Among countries that are off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, most are in Africa.
At the same time, there are encouraging counter trends. Burkina Faso had the region’s largest decline in income inequality, with the bottom 40 percent growing almost twice as fast as the average. Income inequality also shrank in Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Lesotho, Mali and Namibia.
Source: LENA 10/12/2019