human development

A few thoughts (by Nicola) from conversation on development:

Definitions of development: Human Development concept focuses on enlarging people’s choices.
3 essential capabilities:

– to lead long and healthy lives;

– to be knowledgeable;

– to have a decent standard of living.

If these basic capabilities are not achieved, many choices are simply not available and many opportunities remain inaccessible.

Human development goes further to emphasize choice – from political economic and social opportunities for being creative and productive to
enjoying self-respect, empowerment and a sense of belonging to a community. Cultural liberty a vital part:  being able to choose one’s identity is
important in leading a full life.

Goal of human development = human freedom – freedom  to exercise choice and participate in decision-making.

Aristotle: “Wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking, for it is merely useful for the sake of something else.”

Has progress been made?

YES … Looked at over a 25-30 year span, remarkable progress: The number of
people living in extreme poverty on less than $1 a day fell by about 400
million. Many more children, particularly girls, complete primary school.
Illiteracy rates fell by half. Life expectancy rose by nearly 15 years, on
average, over a 40 year period. Some diseases such as polio were almost

BUT not enough …
PROGRESS and                                                          DOWNSIDE

130 million people lifted out of extreme poverty  2.5 billion still live on less than $2 a day;

3 million fewer child deaths a year                              10 million preventable child deaths every year

30 million more children in school                              115 million children still out of school

1.2 billion people gained access to clean water          More than one billion people still have no access to safe water

*       Most recent projections anticipate the proportion of people living
in extreme poverty will fall from 29% 1990 to 10% 2015. However, that masks
significant regional variations – huge progress in large Asian countries
lifts the global numbers but masks the fact that Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)
lags behind.  I.e. There has been strong- but regionally uneven-progress
toward reducing overall poverty.

*       Education: Global target – all boys and girls complete primary
schooling by 2015.  Significant progress in literacy since 1990. In East
Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, and Latin America, primary
school completion and literacy rates are close to 100%.  Significant
progress in the Middle East and North Africa and South Asia. SSA Africa is
off track for primary school completion for both boys and girls; South East
Asia is on track for girls’ completion of schooling but not for boys. I.e.
There is good progress, but again it is uneven: crises such as the 2005
earthquake in Pakistan opened up new opportunities for schooling of girls in
affected regions.

*       Access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation: key to
environmental sustainability and a key indicator for human development.
Over 1 billion individuals lack access to safe drinking water and 2.5
billion individuals lack access to basic sanitation.  Improvements in these
two areas could help to reduce dramatically the burden of disease,
particularly diarrhea, which contributes to approximately 1.8 million deaths
annually. The growing urbanization exacerbates the problem.

*       Climate change: already starting to affect some of the poorest and
most vulnerable communities around the world – > natural disasters, –
already undermining poverty reduction efforts.

*       Important gaps remain in delivering on global commitments undertaken
as part of the Millennium Development Goals, in the areas of aid, trade,
debt relief, and access to new technologies and to affordable essential
medicines. See the UN MDG Gap Task Force report

For those interested in measurement issues,

the World Bank just revised its measurement of poverty. Its new estimates indicate 1.4 billion people in the developing world (one in four) were living on less than US$1.25 a day in 2005, down from 1.9 billion (one in two) in 1981:

poverty has been more widespread than previously estimated, but also there has been strong-if regionally uneven-progress toward reducing overall poverty. Note most dramatically East Asia (drop from 80 to < 20% in poverty rate).

click here fro UN report

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