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Zimbabwe Earns Low Ranking on Human Development Index - 2003-07-11

Zimbabwe faired poorly this year in the annual United Nations Development Program's Human Development Report.

Zimbabwe is now ranked 145th out of 175 countries on the Human Development Index. The index covers average levels of a nation's human development by reflecting achievements in longevity, knowledge as measured by adult literacy, and a decent standard of living as measured by Gross Domestic Product per capita. Zimbabwe was ranked 128th last year, and 117th the year before.

The report says life expectancy in Zimbabwe dropped sharply during the last year, and is now estimated at 35 and a half years, compared to nearly 43 years in the last report. In the early 1980s, life expectancy in Zimbabwe was more than 60 years.

Life expectancy has also fallen in other Southern African countries due to the AIDS pandemic. Although other countries such as Botswana have higher HIV infection rates than Zimbabwe, increased poverty levels in Zimbabwe have resulted in people infected with the virus developing full blown AIDS and dying sooner.

The country's Human Development Index has been decreasing since 1985, and the U.N. report says Zimbabwe is one of the worst performers among developing countries. Zimbabwe was ranked 90th out of 94 developing countries in the annual report's Human Poverty Index.

It's not all doom and gloom for Zimbabwe however, as the country has managed to maintain the highest adult literacy rate in Africa.