By Tokunbo Adedoja in New York and Abimbola Akosile
Nigeria’s life expectancy rate has risen from 47.56 years to 51.9 years for the total population, according to the global Human Development Report 2011 released yesterday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The 2011 Human Develop-ment Index (HDI) titled "Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All", was released by the UNDP using a composite measure of three basic dimensions of human development: health (life expectancy), education and income.
In the agency’s HDI, Nigeria was ranked 156th out of the 187 countries surveyed (up one step from 155 in 2010), although the country dropped four places between 2006 – 2011.
A detailed analysis of the report revealed that the country made a significant progress in the areas of provision of potable water, sanitation and child mortality. It also put the average years of schooling at 5.0 years and the expected years of schooling at 8.9 years, while Gross National Income (GNI) was put at $2,069.
The report’s Multidimen-sional Poverty Index (MPI) showed that poverty has worsened in the North-eastern part of the country, a region that was also described as Nigeria’s poorest geo-political zone.
In contrast, the MPI ranked the Southern region of the country as a zone that has seen what it called the most substantial reduction in poverty.
As number 156 on this year's HDI, Nigeria is also the least among the members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). A comparative analysis of members of OPEC showed that Indonesia is ranked 124th, with its life expectancy put at 69.4 years, education index at 0.584, and gross national income per capita of $3,716.
Qatar is ranked 37th, with its life expectancy put at 78.4 years, education index of 0.623, and gross national income per capita of $107,721; while United Arab Emirates (UAE) is ranked 30, with its life expectancy put at 76.5 years, education index of 0.741, and gross national income per capita of $59,993.
Algeria is ranked 96th, with its life expectancy put at 73.1 years, education index of 0.652, and gross national income per capita of $7,658; while Angola, which is ranked 148th, has its life expectancy put at 51.1 years, education index at 0.422 and gross national income per capita of $4,874.
Iran is ranked 88th, with its life expectancy put at 73 years, education index at 0.640 and gross national income per capita of $10,168; while Iraq, which is ranked 132nd, has its life expectancy put at 69 years, education index at 0.491 and gross national income per capita of $3,177.
Also, Kuwait is ranked 63rd, with its life expectancy put at 74.6 years, education index at 0.577 and gross national income per capita of $47,926, Saudi Arabia is ranked 56th with its life expectancy put at 73.9 years, education index at 0.689 and gross national income per capita of $23,274.
Venezuela, another OPEC member, is ranked 73rd with its life expectancy put at 74.4 years, education index at 0.692 and gross national income per capita of $10,656.
The report also showed that the world’s top five countries in terms of human development are Norway (first), Australia (second), Netherlands (third), United States of America (fourth), and New Zealand (fifth).
In Africa, Libya, with a global ranking of 64, emerged first in the continent in terms of human development, although it dropped 10 places before arriving at that figure. Mauritius emerged second with a ranking of 77, while Tunisia came third in Africa with a ranking of 94. South Africa was ranked 123rd among the surveyed nations, while Ghana was ranked 135rd.
The report, released yesterday in Copenhagen, Denmark, stated that development progress in the world’s poorest countries could be halted or even reversed by mid-century unless bold steps are taken now to slow climate change, prevent further environmental damage and reduce deep inequalities within and among nations.
This year’s report argued that environmental sustainability could be most fairly and effectively achieved by nations addressing health, education, income and gender disparities together with the need for global action on energy production and ecosystem protection.
As the world community prepares for the landmark UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June next year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the report stated that sustainability must be approached as a matter of basic social justice, for current and future generations alike.
“Sustainability is not exclusively or even primarily an environmental issue, as this report so persuasively argues,” Helen Clark said in the foreword. “It is fundamentally about how we choose to live our lives, with an awareness that everything we do has consequences for the seven billions of us here today, as well as for the billions more who will follow, for centuries to come.”
UNDP has commissioned the editorially-independent Human Development Reports each year since 1990 when its HDI, a composite measure of health, education and income, first challenged purely economic measures of national achievement and called for consistent global tracking of progress in overall living standards.
Between 1970 and 2010, the countries in the lowest 25 per cent of the HDI rankings improved their overall HDI achievement by a remarkable 82 per cent, twice the global average.
The report noted that if the pace of improvement over the past 40 years were to be continued for the next 40 years, the great majority of countries would achieve HDI levels by 2050 equal to, or better than those now enjoyed only by the top 25 per cent in today’s HDI rankings; an extraordinary achievement for human development globally in less than a century.
The authors forecast that unchecked environmental deterioration - from drought in sub-Saharan Africa to rising sea levels that could swamp low-lying countries like Bangladesh - could cause food prices to soar by up to 50 per cent and reverse efforts to expand water, sanitation and energy access to billions of people, notably in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
By 2050, in an “environmental challenge” scenario factoring in the effects of global warming on food production and pollution, the average HDI would be 12 per cent lower in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa than would otherwise be the case, the report estimated.
It added that, “Under an even more adverse ‘environmental disaster’ situation - with vast deforestation, dramatic biodiversity declines and increasingly extreme weather - the global HDI would fall 15 per cent below the baseline projection for 2050, with the deepest losses in the poorest regions.”