Sri Lanka ranks best performer in South Asia scoring above average in the Human Development Index Report 2005, the UNDP report said. The Sri Lankan HDI score of 0.751 is above the average for medium human development countries (0.718) and quite significantly higher than the average for South Asia (0.628).
In the 2005 report, Sri Lanka is ranked 93rd out of a total of 177 countries, with a total HDI score of 0.751 (out of a maximum of 1). In 2004, Sri Lanka`s position was 96 and it had a HDI score of 0.740. However using comparisons between years may not accurately reflect why ranking changes have occurred, as quite often they are due to revisions in the methodology for collecting the relevant data.
In 2005, relative to Sri Lanka`s economic wealth, it has performed well in improving the key areas of life expectancy and adult literacy. If countries were ranked purely on average individual income (based on GDP per capita adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity), Sri Lanka would be ranked 110 out of 177 countries.
The HD Report 2005 focuses on three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life, being educated, and having a decent standard of living. It combines the measures of life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy and income to allow a broader view of a country`s development than does income alone.
Asia`s emerging giants lag in health and child survival, as other smaller neighbours show impressive gains, according to the report. Viet Nam has now overtaken China in improvement in child mortality, and Bangladesh has overtaken India.
Had India matched Bangladesh`s rate of reduction in child mortality over the past decade, more than 730,000 fewer children would die this year, says the Report. Had China matched Viet Nam`s, 276,000 lives could be saved.
The report says that 18 of the world`s poorest countries, with a total population of 460 million, are `doing worse on most key human development indicators than they were in 1990. The Index of 177 countries, published in the report, shows that under current trends these countries have little chance of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, said Kevin Watkins, head of UNDP`s Human Development Report Office.
Twelve of the 18 countries are in sub-Saharan Africa-meaning that one out of three people in sub-Saharan Africa live in a country whose HDI is lower now than it was in 1990. South Africa has fallen 35 places in the HDI ranking since 1990 and Botswana 2 1 -stark declines precipitated mainly by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The other six countries that suffered reversals since 1990 belong to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) that are successors to the Soviet Union. Since 1990, Tajikistan has fallen 21 places in the HDI rankings, Ukraine 17, and the Russian Federation 15. Declining life expectancy, combined with economic disruption after the fall of the Soviet Union, are the main factors, the Report states.
Globally, Norway tops the Index, while Niger is last.
The HDI data however demonstrates that overall global trends are positive, with substantial overall progress registered in most developing regions of the world since the release of the first report in 1990. Bangladesh, China and Uganda have increased their ranking by about 20 percent since 1990, the 2005 Index shows.
The Report also cites several human development success stories, such as Viet Nam, which has cut income poverty in half, from 60 percent in 1990 to 32 percent in 2000 and has reduced child mortality rates from 58 per 1,000 live births to 42 over the same period.
Bangladesh has shown that it is possible for even the world`s poorest countries to accelerate human development, making gains in education, income and life expectancy.
The Report says that unequal access to healthcare has a powerful effect on health inequalities. Malaysia and Sri Lanka have achieved steep declines in neonatal deaths through simple, home-based, district-level health care.
Finally, the Report noted that the risk of conflict could be related to a low ranking in the HDI. For example, countries with a per capita income of US$600 are half as likely to experience civil war as countries with a per capita income of $250. Some war-ravaged countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Liberia are not included in the Index tables at all, due to the lack of reliable recent statistical information on key human development indicators.
`Violent conflict is one of the surest and fastest routes to the bottom of the HDI table,` the authors wrote, `and a strong indicator for a protracted stay there.` Of the 32 countries at the bottom of the HDI, 22 have experienced conflict at some point since 1990 and five have suffered from reversals in their HDI ranking.
Every year since 1990, the UNDP has commissioned the Human Development Report by an independent team of experts to explore major issues of global concern. A worldwide advisory network of leaders in academia, government and civil society contribute data, ideas, and best practices to support the analysis and proposals published in the Report. The concept of Human Development looks beyond per capita income, human resource development, and basic needs as a measure of human progress and also assesses such factors as human freedom, dignity and human agency, that is, the role of people in development. The Human Development
Report 2005 argues that development is ultimately `a process of enlarging people`s choices,` not just raising national incomes. The Human Development Report 2005 is published in English by Oxford University Press.
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