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How can Zimbabwe avoid having the world’s worst Human Development Index?

Martin Ravallion's picture

Each year the mass media and many governments look keenly at the country rankings by the Human Development Index (HDI). In the 2010 Human Development Report, Zimbabwe has the lowest HDI in the world at 0.14 on a (0,1) scale (UNDP, 2010). The next lowest is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with 0.24. (Norway is highest, at 0.94.)

It is natural to ask: what would Zimbabwe need to do to get its HDI up to the level of the DRC or better? Zimbabweans will no doubt have a strong interest in knowing the answer, as will those interested in the HDI in general.

There are three components to the HDI, for life expectancy, schooling and income. Let’s look at these in turn.

Africa on the brink of a take off

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Dear friends,

Today we are trying something new.

I wanted to share with you the reasons why I think we can be optimistic about Africa's development prospects, but rather than writing something up, I thought of using video.

Please, share your feedback, not only on whether you agree that Africa is on the right track, but on the video itself. If you like it, I would like to do more of this short video "Development Talks" with the readers of this blog.

Let me know what you think.

 

Is our Tanzanian children learning?

Shanta Devarajan's picture

I was reminded of former US President George Bush’s question about American children when I saw the results of a recent NGO-led survey of 40,000 children in Tanzania.  The picture is sobering: 

  • About 20 percent of the children who had completed seven years of primary school could not read their own language, Kiswahili, at the Grade 2 level;
  • Half of them could not read English, which is the medium of instruction in secondary education; 
  • And about 30 percent could not do a simple (Grade 2) multiplication problem. 

 

Interestingly, Tanzania has seen dramatic increases in primary school enrolments—so much so that the country won a Millennium Development Goals award for achievements in primary education. 


To better understand the relationship between these different findings, I interviewed Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza, the NGO that conducted the survey, on the margins of the Open Forum at the recent World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings.  

We discussed why and how they did the study, what the results mean, and what to do with them.

Shanta Devarajan interviews Rakesh Rajani Vimeo.

  

Download MP3

Africa's great strides towards the MDGs

Gabriel Demombynes's picture

This week’s Millennium Summit has given data mavens like myself motivation to take a second look at the development indicators for the countries where they work.

For Kenya (my current focus, along with Sudan) a rich source of information is the recently published report for the 2008-09 Demographic and Health Survey.

Below I’ve graphed several indicators from the Kenya DHS from 1998, 2003, and 2008-09. We see that there have been substantial gains along several lines. School attendance rates rose with the introduction of free primary education earlier in the decade. Vaccination rates increased sharply between 2003 and 2008. Access to improved water sources also expanded, and phone access jumped as the mobile revolution hit Kenya.

After the World Cup: Policy Dilemmas Tackle South African Government

Sandeep Mahajan's picture

The 2010 FIFA World Cup drew to a close on July 11, 2010, with a Spanish victory and a thunderous ceremony. South Africa took a bow as the world applauded its wonderful organization of the high profile tournament.

A record number of people across the globe viewed the tournament, and the crime rate was the lowest of any World Cup. The direct economic impact of the event is estimated at around 0.5% of GDP in 2011, and the tournament did much to burnish South Africa’s image across the world as an attractive tourist destination.

Sadly, the real drama started after the curtains came down on the World Cup.

In particular, a coalition of unions, representing over one million-public servants -- including teachers, doctors, nurses, police, and court and government officials -- has launched an indefinite strike after the unions’ demand for an 8.6% salary increase (plus 1,000 rand monthly housing allowance) was rejected by the Government.

Rivalité fraternelle au Burkina Faso

Damien de Walque's picture

L’école, une opportunité rare, objet de choix stratégiques dans les familles.

“Ici, pour les parents, l’école n’est pas une priorité”. Cette réflexion, empreinte de fatalisme, est souvent entendue comme explication des taux de fréquentation scolaire faibles dans certaines régions d’Afrique. Une étude récente menée dans la Province du Nahouri au Burkina Fasosuggère que la situation est plus complexe.

Varieties of African successes

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Tolstoy notwithstanding, the 20 African success stories described in the booklet “Yes, Africa Can” show that success comes in many different forms.  Broadly speaking, the cases fall into three categories:

- Success from removing an existing, major distortion.  The best example is Ghana’s cocoa sector, which was destroyed by the hyperinflation and overvalued exchange rate in the early 1980s.  When the exchange rate regime was liberalized and the economy stabilized, cocoa exports boomed (and continue to grow).  Similar examples include Rwanda’s coffee sector and Kenya’s fertilizer use.  Africa’s mobile phone revolution, too, is an example of the government’s stepping out of the way—in this case by deregulating the telecommunications sector—and letting the private sector jump in. 

Raising the Volume on 'Quiet Corruption'

Shanta Devarajan's picture

 
Photo: Arne Hoel

In Uganda, teachers in public primary schools are absent 27 percent of the time. In Chad, less than one percent of the non-wage recurrent expenditures reaches primary health clinics.  In West Africa, about half the fertilizer is diluted before it reaches the farmer. 

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