PH moves one notch up in UN human dev’t report
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines improved slightly in the 2014 UN Development Report that measures income, education and life expectancy, but managed to stay in the middle bracket of all the countries assessed.
In a report released in Tokyo by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) covering 187 countries, the Philippines was ranked No. 117, up one notch from 118 in the previous edition.
The report said the human development index (HDI), which measures the average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development—a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living—slightly grew on a global scale to 0.702 in 2013 from 0.700 in 2012. While all regions are registering improvement on the HDI, there are disparities and signs of a slowdown, the UNDP said in the report.
Gains have been made overall but these may have had less impact on vulnerable sectors due to a number of setbacks, the report said.
Weakened by disasters
“In the past five years alone, the world has witnessed an earthquake in Haiti (2010), a heat wave in the Northern Hemisphere (2010), a tsunami in Japan (2011), a drought in East Africa (2011–2012) and a typhoon in the Philippines (2013). These adverse natural events have caused large human casualties and had considerable economic costs. Human development progress has been weakened by these impacts and, in some cases, hard-won gains have been reversed,” the report said.
One of the ways in which the report evaluated progress is to track the growth in consumption for the poorest 40 percent of the population. By this measure, countries such as the Bolivia, Brazil and Cambodia made great strides, but even in the Philippines, it was found that consumption growth for the poorest 40 percent was faster than that of the population as a whole. The report said inequality was high or rising in China, Malaysia and Uganda, where growth in consumption at the poorest end of distribution has been slower than the overall population.
Consumption is one of the drivers of Philippine economic expansion (in terms of gross domestic product, or GDP), which slowed to 5.7 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and 7.7 percent in the first quarter of 2013.
However, the report also cited the Philippines as one of the countries where “the connection between social exclusion and conflict can be illustrated.” These are places where a significant part of the population become vulnerable due to conflict situations, such as insurgencies, rebellions or separatist movements. Other countries cited were Thailand, Timor-Leste and Papua in Indonesia, as well as East Pakistan.
Overall, the Philippines belongs to the medium human development bracket, led by Maldives (No. 103). Also in this bracket are Indonesia (No. 108), Vietnam (No. 121), Cambodia (No. 136), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (No. 139) and India (No. 135).
Malaysia (No. 62) and Thailand (No. 89) are in the high human development bracket led by Uruguay (No. 50). China is also in this group at No. 91.
Burma, or Myanmar (No. 150), is in the low human development bracket led by Nepal (No. 145). In the bottom 10 from No. 178 to No. 187 are Mozambique, Guinea, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo and Niger.
The Top 10 countries, from No. 1 to 10, are Norway, Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United States, Germany, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore and Denmark. They belong to the Very High Human Development bracket, which includes Brunei Darussalam (No. 30) and Hong Kong at No. 15.
The report pushed for wider access to basic social services (education, health care, water supply and sanitation, and public safety), social protection (insurance, labor regulations, pension and welfare programs), full employment, disaster risk reduction and management, and responsive institutions.
The HDI was launched in 1990 as an alternative measure to GDP.
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