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Zimbabwe poorer in UNDP survey

Staff Writer/Reuter

ZIMBABWE is now ranked number 145 out of 175 countries measured by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in terms of life expectancy, educational attainment

and adjusted real income.

The Human Development Report was released this week.

Countries in Africa performing worse than Zimbabwe include Kenya (146), Uganda (147), Nigeria (152), Senegal (156), Guinea (157), Rwanda (158), Tanzania (160), Malawi (162), Zambia (163), Angola (164), Chad (165), Guinea-Bissau (166), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (167), Ethiopia (169), Mozambique (170), Burundi (171), Mali (172), Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone (175).

The report said the boom of the 1990s left some 50 nations, half of them in Africa, worse off than they were 10 years earlier with more people going hungry and life expectancy plunging.

Foreign aid declined in the 1990s, debt increased for poor nations, Aids statistics soared and prices dropped for crucial commodities, the main exports from poor nations, according to the annual UN Human Development Report.

“In the so-called great decade, a very significant hard core of countries ended further behind with more poor people,” said Mark Malloch Brown, administrator of the UNDP, which produced the report.

This year’s survey documents progress of 175 countries toward eight UN millennium development goals agreed by world leaders three years ago, ranging from reducing extreme poverty to halting the spread of Aids by 2015.

Fifty-four countries are poorer now than in 1990, and some will not meet the goals for 50 years.

For Arab states and Latin America and the Caribbean reaching the goals by 2015 is possible. But the report said it would take 20 sub-Saharan African until 2129 to achieve universal primary education, until 2147 to halve extreme poverty and until 2165 to cut child mortality by two-thirds.

The report once again calls for foreign aid to be doubled to US$100 billion annually. And of the current $50-55 billion only a fraction is spent on implementing the millennium goals, it says.

“Every European cow is getting a $3 a day subsidy whereas 40% of Africans live on less than $1 a day,” Malloch Brown said, calling the 1990s a decade of “development on the cheap.”

The report argues for a broader view of how to lift the least developed nations out of extreme poverty rather than the “Washington consensus” of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund that included budget discipline, deregulation and the liberalization of trade and finance.

Instead it agrees with such economists as Dani Rodrik of Harvard who contend that a single set of policies for all countries can do more harm than good.

For example, Bolivia and Uganda, were considered the “donor darlings” in the 1990s for pursuing World Bank and IMF policies. But neither has reaped substantial economic returns, having neglected infrastructure necessary for landlocked nations to export goods, Malloch Brown said.

The report also asks poor nations to map out reasonable plans to reach the eight-millennium goals and show what funds and programs would be needed to obtain them.

“You can’t spend money you don’t have. But in any spending plan you need to clearly demonstrate what you need from the donor community to meet the Millennium goals,” Malloch Brown said.

Since 1990, East Asia and the Pacific, led by China, have nearly halved extreme income poverty, the report said.

But poverty soared over the last decade in central Asia after the breakup of the Soviet Union as well as areas of Russia, Algeria, Mongolia, Nigeria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

The report includes a Human Development Index that rates countries according to education, life expectancy and per capita income.

Norway, for the third consecutive year, ranked on top, the United States was in seventh place and Sierra Leone again is in last place among 175 rankings.

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