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Zimbabweans poorer than in 1985/1975

Shakeman Mugari

ZIMBABWEANS are now poorer than they were in 1975 despite President Robert Mugabe’s claims that his policies are designed to empower the disadvantaged, a recent study by the United Nations sa


The UN Human Development Report reveals that Zimbabwe’s standard of living is now lower than it was 28 years ago at the height of the liberation war when the country was under international sanctions.

Zimbabwe has seen its standing on the human development index (HDI) drop to 0,496 points in 2001, compared to 0,544 in 1975. The HDI was on 0,626 points in 1985, the highest since Independence. But it dropped to 0,614 in 1990.

Zimbabwe’s HDI ranks it 145th in the 2003 Human Development Report out of 175 nations. It is also one of the worst performers in the Human Poverty Index (HPI), a multidimensional measure of poverty for developing countries. The index takes into account survival and knowledge, social exclusion and lack of economic means. Zimbabwe is ranked 90th out of 94 developing countries with desert state Niger being ranked last.

The report says 52% of Zimbabweans live below the poverty datum line. Niger also has the highest human poverty index (HPI) at 61,8%.

The report says life expectancy at birth in Zimbabwe is now estimated at 35 years for the period 2000 to 2005, as compared to 61 years in 1990.

Moreover, the country’s HIV/Aids prevalence rate of 34% is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.

Analysts say the systematic destruction of the agricultural sector will have compounded the sharp decline in living standards, providing even more worrying statistics for the current period. Zimbabwe also has a poor gender-related development index of 0,489, which is ranked among the worst in the world.

The index measures a country’s achievement in building capacity of women to participate in economic, professional and political decision-making.

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