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African region boosts human development scores

Over three-quarters of African countries saw an improvement in their Human Development Index (HDI) score, according to the Human Development Report 2016 published in March by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Forty-three African states witnessed an improvement in their HDI score in 2016, with only four experiencing a decrease on the previous year.

The HDI measures key components of human development from a holistic perspective. It brings together indicators on life expectancy, quality of education and standard of living to evaluate multiple dimensions of development in one statistic.

Seychelles (0.782), Mauritius (0.781) and Algeria (0.745) top the ranking for Africa. Seychelles took the top spot for the region for the second year running. All top three countries saw improvements in their life expectancy, mean years of schooling and national income.

Central African Republic (0.352), Chad (0.356) and Niger (0.393) rank as the bottom three countries in the world. They also score below the sub-Saharan average of 0.497. Central African Republic ranked at the bottom of the Index with a score of 0.352 for the third year in a row. It has the lowest score across all indicators used in the Index and has only improved by 0.032 points since 1990, when the Index began.

All of the bottom three countries have consistently high maternal mortality rates, limited education for women and high levels of multidimensional poverty. At least 66 percent of the population in Central African Republic, Niger and Chad live in severe poverty.

African region boosts human development scores

The biggest improver from last year’s report was Tanzania (+0.012), while Sierra Leone had the largest fall in score (-0.011). Since 2000, Rwanda has improved its score the most (+0.166) while Libya’s score has decreased the most, from 0.732 to 0.716. Six countries saw no change in their HDI score year on year.

Although the region as a whole has registered improvement across several indicators in the Index - such as increasing life expectancy and gross national income - there is still much need for reform and policy change to further development. Of the bottom 20 countries in the Index, 19 are located in sub-Saharan Africa with the only exception being Afghanistan.

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