18 April 2017

Nigeria Ranks 152 for 'Low Human Development'

Photo: The Guardian
United Nations.

A report by the United Nations Development Programme ranks Nigeria 152nd position on account of "low human development" and wellbeing of its citizens, slightly above Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Lesotho.

The 2016 Human Development Index (HDI) report showed Nigeria's HDI from 2015 was 0.527, up from 0.466 in 2005-just an increase of 13.1%, suggesting many citizens still lack wellbeing.

"HDI 1 is highest. That means we are just halfway," the UNDP resident representative Edward Kallon told Daily Trust at the launch of the report in Abuja on Tuesday.

"There is still a lot to be done. There is still a lot of people deprived."

Norway, Australia, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland all scored close to 1 among countries categorised as having "very high development"-three categories above Nigeria's.

The index measures "goes beyond the traditional monetary measures of wellbeing to examine whether people, beyond having adequate incomes, do live long and healthy lives; and have access to the information they need."

Between 1990, when sub-Saharan Africa's HDI was 0.399, and 2015, deaths of children aged under five reduced by half across the world.

The steepest decline was in sub-Saharan Africa, where life expectancy has increased by at least six years, according to the UNDP.

But it noted that increasing insecurity in the region, including Nigeria northeast and the Lake Chad region, pose further problems to efforts to improve human development.

An estimated 8.5 million people in the North East and Lake Chad region are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance; over 5 million remain food insecure; and some 50,000 children face some of the highest levels of food insecurity.

"The need for action, especially for the children, couldn't be more urgent," said Kallon.

The report comes on the heels of Nigeria's launch of its five-year Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 which targets a growth of 7% on average.

"Nigeria is trying to increase growth. But the focus in ERGP has one key element, which is investing in people. We are hoping that this time around, the growth will be inclusive-that means [it has to be] centred around people and empower power," said Kallon.

Minister of state for budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed, said recommends reorienting policies to "reach those left out."

"Universal access to quality healthcare, education and other services are critical for extending human development to everyone," she said.

"It calls for removing barriers to access by particular groups with special needs, who may be disadvantaged by discriminatory laws and social norms."

Ahmed warned of violence stifling development in the wake of "violent extremism [that] has engulfed the Lake Chad region", causing death and destruction in the north east of Nigeria.

"Over 14 million people are affected with 1.8 million internally displaced persons to carter for in the three most affected states," Ahmed noted.

"Human development cannot be for everyone in a situation where 14 million people are insecure and deprived."

Speaking of altered policies to accommodate for disadvantaged Nigerians, she said, "We hope that it will be better. It means we have to make sure that even when there is growth, it has to inclusive."

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