16 November 2011

Africa: Human Development Report Uses Latest Available Data

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AllAfrica editors' note: The Rwanda representative of the United Nations Development Programme has responded to an article published on allAfrica.com with the following letter to the Editor of the site's partner publication:

The headline in the New Times story of 14 November on the 2011 Human Development Report states erroneously the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Rwanda, Aurelien Agbenonci, termed the Report 'misleading.' The term 'misleading' was never used during the phone interview with the New Times reporter James Munyaneza on Sunday 13 November.

As the New Times published in that same story, what the 2011 Report itself cautions is that it is "misleading" to compare a country's ranking in the Human Development Index from one year to the next: "'It is misleading to compare values and rankings with those of previously published Reports, because the underlying data and methods have changed, as well as the number of countries included in the HDI,' the report said."

The story also indicates that the 2011 Human Development Report "largely relied on 2005 data." It is important to clarify that for the calculation of its composite indexes, including its Human Development Index, the Report uses the current year's most recent available internationally comparable data on health, education, income, and other indicators measuring inequality, poverty and gender equality - for all assessed countries - which are provided by the relevant UN agencies and other recognized international sources.

Since it was first published in 1990, the Human Development Report has always recognized that because it relies on international data providers, the Report's indices cannot always incorporate the most recent nationally compiled development statistics. The concept of human development is much broader than what can be captured in the Human Development Index, or any other of the composite indices in the Human Development Report and hence the 2011 Report's data is not the only means to assess the continuing progress in gender equality and poverty reduction that has been taking place in Rwanda.

Aurelien Agbenonci, UN Rwanda Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

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