UNDP’s Human Development Report Deems Ethiopia’s Growth Non-Inclusive

ADDIS ABABA (HAN) May 5, 2015 – Public Diplomacy, Regional humanitarian Security News.  BY BROOK ABDU

Government and UNDP did not see eye-to-eye on the conclusions of the 2014 National Human Development Report, particularly with regard to inclusivity in development

The National Human Development Report (NHDR) was launched on Wednesday, April 29, 2014, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s (UNECA) Conference Hall, in the presence of President Mulatu Teshome (PhD), centre, Mekonnen Manyazewal, left, commissioner of the National Planning Commission (NPC), and Eugene Owusus, right, resident representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), a sponsor of the Report. The Report, which came 15 years after its predecessor, indicated that Ethiopia’s latest economic growth is impressive, but non-inclusive. The finding on the non-inclusive aspect, however, was denounced by officials, including Mekonnen.

The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) National Human Development Report (NHDR) 2014 brought the government and the UN agency in direct confrontation when the report challenged the equitability of Ethiopia’s growth over the past 10 years.

The report, launched on Wednesday April 29, 2014 at the meeting hall of the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) premises, brought President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) and Mekonnen Manyazewal, commissioner for the National Planning Commission of Ethiopia along with UNDP’s resident representative to Ethiopia, Eugene Owusu to share their perspectives on the report and expressing the long way they came in preparation of the document published 15 years after the last National Human Development Report was done.

The atmosphere of the launching ceremony, seemed dominated by defensiveness from the government side and assertiveness from the side of the UNDP, which claimed that Ethiopia has been entertaining non-inclusive approaches to development and has failed to reduce the absolute number of the country’s poor, with development concentrated among certain socio-economic groups.

Admitting that the country accomplished an average of 10pc economic growth over the past decade, the report emphasised that the country still faces “daunting human development issues”. Proportionally, though, the percentage of the population below the poverty line (revenue of 0.60 dollars a day) had decreased from 38.7pc in 2004/5 to 26pc in 2012/13, with 2.5 million people taken out of poverty.

“However, because of high population growth, the absolute number of the poor (about 25 million) had remained largely unchanged over the past 15 years,” argues the report.

Owusu, in his opening remarks, stated in an apologetic and approving tone, that the country had registered incredible growth, although it is not inclusive.

“We launch this report as part of helping the inclusiveness of the country’s economy and the Human Development Index of the country, which showed a slight increase although the rank it holds still remains at 173 out of 187 countries,” stated Owusu. “Gain from the country’s growth is not equal among different groups.”

These issues seemed not to be easily swallowed by the government bodies that attended the launching ceremony.

“The report has a lot of information from the perspective of human development,” said Mekonnen.

Mekonnen, who compared the pre and post-1990 Ethiopia, said that the country had come out of a stagnant economy and low human development.

“Now, Ethiopia’s growth is inclusive; still driven by small-scale agriculture,” Mekonnen expressed, stating that the widespread poverty and gap in mobilising domestic saving to finance the level of investment the country needs is a challenge.

Mekonnen, who reduced the contribution the report to the level of narrating the growth progress of the country and being the first report to create both national and regional HDI, showed his reservations on some points.

He said Ethiopia has had rapid, inclusive and sustainable economic growth driven by smallholder agriculture. Secondly, the report, according to him, did not consider the different historical background of the regions in the country – “historical legacies need to be addressed”. Finally, he stressed that the severity of poverty had increased since 2005 and the reasons need to provide an agenda for research and not a conclusive idea.

“The report focused on inclusive growth, as development is expanding peoples’ choices and only economic prosperity vis-à-vis human achievements. High economic growth does not necessarily imply inclusive development,” said James Wakiaga, economic advisor to UNDP.

The report emphasised that there is much that the government needs to look into in its plans, strategies and policies, especially in bringing up inclusive development.

The NHDR argued that the “national and regional HDI’s are increasing with disparities and inequalities in human progress between regions that could prove useful to policy makers. Addressing regional disparities is essential to ensure that the growth is inclusive.”

Gender equality and empowering women and girls, especially in narrowing the disparities that persist between women and men in employment, leadership and decision making needs to be addressed to bring about inclusive growth.

The HDI disparity in the regions was also a major point raised in the report. The HDI in Harar has an index of 0.56, while Tigray stands at 0.52, Amhara 0.45, Afar 0.36, Benshangul Gumuz 0.46, Oromia 0.45, Somalia 0.41, Southern Nations, Nationalities & Peoples’ Region 0.46 and Gambella 0.47.

This disparity among the regions of the country is explained by low educational attainment in low index regions according to the report.

“Ethiopia has attained success in providing access to more, but not necessarily better quality, social services,” the study concludes. addisfortune 

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