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Uganda Ranked 150th In Human Development

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th August 2002 03:00 AM

In terms of human development, Uganda is the 24th from behind, according to a report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently.

In terms of human development, Uganda is the 24th from behind, according to a report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently.

By Charles Wendo --The report says a Ugandan baby boy has a 24% chance of living to 65 years, a baby girl has 28% In terms of human development, Uganda is the 24th from behind, according to a report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently. The Human Development Report 2002, puts Uganda behind 149 countries and ahead of 23 others. Authors of the report say the ranking is based on the extent to which countries have achieved long and healthy lives, decent standard of living and a knowledgeable population. It is not simply about wealth. For instance the report says that on average, someone born in Uganda expects to live only to the age of 41.9 years, and about one third of the Ugandans aged 15 and above can neither read nor write. Comparatively Seychelles, the best-ranked African country, has a life expectancy of 72.7 years while 88% of the adults can read and write. The report adds that 38% of Ugandan children are under-weight due to poor feeding, half of all Ugandans use improved water sources, and 25% do not have adequate sanitation facilities. It also says that only 38% of women deliver under the care of trained people. More to that, the report says any baby boy born in Uganda has only a 24.9% chance of surviving to the age of 65 while a baby girl has a 28% chance of reaching the same age. Out of every 1,000 children born in Uganda, 127 die before the age of five. Grace Kaiso, spokesperson for the National Election Monitoring group, described Uganda’s situation as “a very disturbing picture.” He blamed civil wars, low level of education, poor work ethics, unfavourable international trade terms, tolerance towards corruption and lack of a political culture of a smooth transfer of power. “Most of these factors are within our influence, so we can do something to reverse the situation,” he said. Nobert Mao, the Member of Parliament for Gulu Municipality, equated Uganda to a company under receivership, an expression that the Minister of Finance Gerald Ssendaula dismisses. Mao said Uganda is like a company which is heavily indebted and the creditors have taken over the management. The report ranks Uganda ahead of Tanzania, Rwanda and war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo but behind Kenya and Sudan. But the UNDP representative in Uganda, Daouda Toure, said the ranking is not meant for competition. Neither is it used as a tool to police development. Rather, he said, it is meant to help countries see where they stand so that they can plan better. “I don’t want to get into the beauty contest of saying this country has done better than the other. If one country has improved the other country should be able to benefit from that improvement especially if you look at it in the context of the East African Community of IGAD,” he said. Toure added that much as Uganda is not far from the tail, the situation is better than it was in the 1970s and 1980s. He cited the percentage of people living below the poverty line, which has reduced from 57% in 1987 to 35% currently. He blamed Uganda’s grim situation on many years of bad leadership, wars and HIV/AIDS. “You don’t catch up with that in one year, two years or even 10 years,” Toure said. “Human development is a journey and what is important is that we are moving forwards and not backwards,” he added. From the position alone, it is difficult to tell whether Uganda has improved or not, since new countries are added to the ranking every year. Last year Uganda was 141st out of 162 countries. This time it is 150th out of 173 countries. But on a closer look at the calculations, Uganda gained from 0.386 points in 1985 to 0.404 in 1995 and 0.444 in 2000. Ssendaula, said Uganda is already on the right course and therefore needs only to keep up to achieve further development. He said the Government may not introduce new programmes as a result of the report. “You don’t put programmes to compete against that report. We shall continue with our programmes. We are not off track,” he said. On criticisms that poverty is still biting too hard, Ssendaula said: “When the economy grows you can’t see it overnight. We also acknowledge that there is still poverty but we are saying the approach we are offering is the best.” “What I hate is to spend sleepless nights and then somebody says we are doing nothing.” Ends

Uganda Ranked 150th In Human Development

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