News / Africa

Development Improves in Ethiopia, but Just Slightly

Karsi Tadicha and her children stand next to their house in Bule Duba village, on the outskirts of Moyale, Ethiopia, June 2009.
Karsi Tadicha and her children stand next to their house in Bule Duba village, on the outskirts of Moyale, Ethiopia, June 2009.
Marthe van der Wolf
The United Nations Development Program has released its 2013 Human Development Index. Despite recent economic growth, Ethiopia is still near the bottom of the index.
Ethiopia ranks 173 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index 2013, unveiled by the United Nations Development Program, UNDP, on Friday.  

The Index is part of the Human Development Report that is presented annually and measures life expectancy, income and education in countries around the world.
Since 2000, Ethiopia has registered greater gains than all but two other countries in the world - Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.  But it still ranks close to the bottom of the Index.
However, Samuel Bwalya, an economic advisor for UNDP, says that not only the ranking is important.
“I think what matters in the index is how you’re moving, your own human development progress within the country, so you’re moving from 0.275 to 0.378, that movement is what matters," said Bwalya. "It means that your country is making progress in human development.  Now the ranking depends on how other countries are also faring.”

This year's Human Development Report focuses on the major gains made since 2000 in most countries in the global South.  

UNDP believes sub-Saharan Africa can achieve higher levels of human development if it deepens its engagement with other regions of the South.
But those countries must overcome many challenges, such as low life expectancy, high levels of inequality and the growing threat for environmental disasters that could halt or reverse the recent gains in human development.
Bwalya says that government policies are central to human development in Ethiopia:
“The most important is to continuously commit to two policy arenas: the economic program in the country is robust and the government should have continuous commitment to development," he explained. "The second is that it should continue the social protection program that has been so important in reducing poverty.”

While the Human Development Report and Index celebrate improvements across the developing world, a hard fact remains - 24 out of the 25 lowest ranked countries are on the African continent.

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Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
March 21, 2013 4:10 AM
Ethiopian government need to help the small farmers materially, financially and provide them with training on how to farm better. Taking their land by force and giving to foreigners is a grave error. Every developed country subsidizes and helps their farmers to this day; case in point US and France. Ethiopian government instead of borrowing to its teeth to build sky scrapers in the capital; it needs to refocus its priority on the wellbeing of its citizens. As the writer described it well, the alleged two digits economic growth is not shared by the majority of the people in the country.

The gov. need to focus in improving the basic quality of life for its citizens by implementing a social safety net to protect, support and empower the most vulnerable parts of the society. These people who need a lending hand are the street kids, the elderly, the sick physically and mentally and the yang women who are living the country in scores every day to Arab countries to make a living and faced with sub human working condition, physical and mental abuse and rape. I suggest to all my colleges to be the voice for the voiceless and encourage the gov. to change its course to address this issues promptly.

by: Sam
March 16, 2013 6:09 PM
@Martha van der Wolf

One correction, Ethiopia's current overall index is .396, it's not .378 as reported above. Please correct it.

For more detail on Ethiopian Human Index Status and progress, compare the graph at the bottom of the page with other Sub-Saharan will find Ethiopia's status and progress compares pretty good with others except on adult literacy rate, mainly.

In Response

by: behailu
March 18, 2013 11:44 AM
The root problems of massive displacement of people to sell their lands to foreigners (the LAND GRABING) remains to be a big challenge to improve the human development index. The huge aid and loan could not bring significant change becuase of bad governance, party-lead corruption and bad policy.

by: Sam
March 16, 2013 5:50 PM
@Martha van der Wolf............If you look at the report closely, there is a significant improvement it terms of income compared to other African countries progress. In fact income per capita is approaching the Sub-Shahran average very fast. But what is still holding Ethiopia's Human Index is the education sector which is significantly lower than the average Sub-Sharan countries' mainly due to higher proportion of illiteracy rate among adults , and to the lesser extent due to lower number of years of formal education among the young. If you look at the graphs, Ethiopia's position pretty good in relation to other Sub-Sharan African countries except the education if you believe the UN report on Ethiopia's education sector especially the illiteracy rate among adults. They might be overestimating the illiteracy rate among the adults...or they could be accurate.

by: Alem
March 16, 2013 10:13 AM
"Just slightly" and not as advertised. I will bet any journalist worth their salt to go on location and report if indeed 29% of the population has been pulled out of poverty in the past decade or if British aid has provided access to potable water to 300,000 Ogadenis and employment to 700,000 of them or if the Saudi Al Amoudi created 5,000 jobs as promised on whose grazing land he is growing rice and such for the Royal Saudi granaries. If Ethiopian rulers have advertised "fast track" development is taking place in the country and the people are enjoying their freedoms then it is only fair on their part to allow independent journalists to come in take pictures and report widely to donor publics that taxpayers dollars are making a difference in far off corners of the world. This is simple humanitarian concern and no partisan politics. In other words, if Marthe or some journalists hop the plane to Ogaden or Gambela and meet locals and congratulate them on their employment opportunities and access to health and safe drinking water what reaction would they be getting? Are the millions of aid money collected in their name getting to them? Even if these populations are illiterate and simple folk they sure would know enough to tell inquirers if water has come to their village.

by: Hagazi Kebede from: Culpeper, VA
March 15, 2013 4:54 PM
Development plans and efforts in Africa are mainly for cities and towns. Incentives and expenditures to the hinterland dwellers are miniscule. With unabated inflation and the sons and daughters of farmers and pastoralists gravitating to towns and cities for greater opportunity, any so called gains are breeding grounds for future discontent and lives of crime. As the article states even the gains are disappointingly low.

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