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As UN Releases Human Development Data...:Sierra Leone is Last Again
By Abdul Karim Kabia
Dec 19, 2008, 17:20
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The United Nations has late yesterday evening released this years [2008] Human Development Index (HDI) which sadly reveals that for the second consecutive year, Sierra Leone has achieved LAST PLACE in the UN Development Programme ranking of human development indicators of 179 countries. Three new countries including Liberia which were ranked for the first time this year, all ranked ahead of Sierra Leone.

President Koroma

However, according to the Regional IRIN News Agency, some analysts say Sierra Leone is nonetheless advancing in some areas and that the impact of the countrys 11-year civil war must be taken into account for a full measure of progress. It states that the UN human development index measures development based on three principal dimensions: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. These are measured by life expectancy at birth; adult literacy and combined gross enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary education; and per capital income in terms of purchasing power.

Life expectancy in Sierra Leone is 42, or just over half of the life expectancy in the top 20 ranked countries. Only 37% of Sierra Leoneans can read or write and amongst women, the figure is even more dismal as just 25% of Sierra Leonean women are literate.

"Sierra Leones placing on the index should be a call to action for everyone who is interested in the well-being of ordinary people in Sierra Leone," Engilbert Gudmundsson, World Bank Sierra Leone country director, reportedly told IRIN yesterday.

The UN reports that Sierra Leones maternal mortality indicators are still the highest in the world while one in four children die before they reach age five.

The African Development Bank is helping supply district services with drugs and equipment, and the World Bank informs of more trained nurses in district clinics, and in some areas, clinics where previously there were none.

It should however be noted that this latest HDI report is based on figures collected as far back as 2006. The latest UN-government figures on maternal and child mortality are expected to be published in a March 2009 health and demographic survey.

Meanwhile, in an obvious credit to the erstwhile Kabbah led SLPP Governments strides in the Education sector, the UN data whilst condemning inadequate conditions of learning is in line with World Bank figures which state 100% enrolment levels at primary schools which is significantly up from the former 64% in 2004.

The erstwhile Kabbah led SLPP Government implemented a successful programme known as SABABU which has greatly helped to maintain high primary enrolment figures with massive construction of new schools. SABABU also helped to reduce the gender gap in schools with the provision of free education for the girl child.

In what could be interpreted as sympathy with the post-war struggles of the country that have the tendency to reduce the import of the efforts of the erstwhile Kabbah Government in improving human development, Abdoulaye Sireh Jallow, a senior economist with UNDP, told IRIN that rather than comparing Sierra Leones development to countries with long-established institutions in place, it is better to compare its progress since it emerged from conflict.

"This will give you a very different picture than the one we see in the HDI," Jallow told IRIN.

The Ernest Koroma led current All Peoples Congress (APC) Government is yet to react to the late breaking news that Sierra Leone is once again LAST on the UNs Human Development Index.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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