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Human Development Index: Bangladesh moves 2 notches up, remains 5th in South Asia

  • Published at 01:43 pm December 21st, 2020
HDR 2020
Planning Minister MA Mannan unveils Human Development Report (HDR) 2020 on Monday, December 21, 2020 Dhaka Tribune

The country also bounced up nine notches in the new planetary pressures-adjusted human development index

Despite Bangladesh’s slow progress in human development, it has moved two notches up to the 133rd place among 189 countries in the Global Human Development Index (HDI) for 2019.

According to the latest Human Development Report (HDR) 2020 of United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the country held its fifth position among the eight South Asian countries covered in the report but bounced up nine notches in the new planetary pressures-adjusted human development index (PHDI).34565

In HDI for 2018, Bangladesh secured the 135th position as it climbed up one notch from its 136th position in 2017.

HDR 2020

The HDR 2020 -- “The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene” -- published globally six days ago and in Bangladesh on Monday morning warns that the nature will not last if human do not release their grip on it.

Meanwhile, the multidimensional poverty and the increasing number of discrimination and inequality can bring further problems, according to UNDP.

In the 30th anniversary edition of the report, the HDI includes two more elements -- a country's carbon dioxide emissions and its material footprint, along with the previous three – the nation's health, education, and living standards.

The report showed how the global development landscape would change if both the wellbeing of people and the planet were kept in central to define humanity's progress. 

For example, more than 50 countries dropped out of the Very High Human Development category, reflecting their dependence on fossil fuels and material footprint.

Planning Minister MA Mannan, who unveiled the report in Bangladesh, confessed that the country could not achieve the target it wanted. But keeping the pandemic situation into consideration, it could be a matter of happiness that the country at least managed to make progress here.

“In some fields we have progressed and in some areas we could not. In the area where we have progressed, there are still opportunities to develop. And the areas where we could not progress, should be brought under scrutiny,” he added.   

Planning Minister MA Mannan unveiling the Human Development Report (HDR) 2020 on Monday, December 21, 2020 Dhaka Tribune

UNDP Bangladesh's Resident Representative, Sudipto Mukerjee, mentioned that the coronavirus pandemic's collateral costs have far outweighed the loss of lives.

"To name a few of the obvious, such as a large number of people were pushed into poverty due to loss of livelihoods, increased inequalities, increased gender-based violence, increased risks of having a large proportion of children and youth dropping out of education, etc." he added.    

“HDR 2020 points out that our future is not about choosing between people or trees. It's about choosing to do things differently," said Sudipto, adding that humans cannot develop themselves alone without preserving nature for future.  

Human development in Bangladesh

Senior Economic Advisor of UNDP Asia Pacific Balazs Hovarth, in his presentation at the launching program, said Bangladesh secured the Medium Human Development category and moved up eight notches since 2014.

Bangladesh’s HDI value for 2019 was 0.632, 60.4% higher than that in 1990; life expectancy at birth grew by 14.4 years; expected years of schooling doubled; while GNI per capita increased more than three times in real terms, he added.

According to the report, mean years of schooling increased by 3.4 years, and expected years of schooling increased by 6 years. Besides, Bangladesh's Gross National Income (GNI) per capita also increased by about 220.1% between 1990 and 2019.

Balazs Hovarth said in 2019, 24.6% of Bangladesh’s population was multidimensionally poor, with a further 18.2% classified as vulnerable to multidimensional poverty. Both numbers have markedly fallen in the past decades.

He also pointed out some negative aspects that the report has demonstrated.

“But some issues remain. Bangladesh’s 2019 HDI value falls by 24.4% when discounted for inequality in the HDI dimensions. The female HDI value is 10% lower than for males (for Nepal, this difference is about 7%; for Pakistan, markedly higher at about 25%),” said Hovarth.

Among the South Asian nations, Sri Lanka secured 72nd position and is one of the two countries in the region listed as High Human Development country. The other one is Maldives ranked 95.

Rest of the countries in the region are positioned out of hundred and are in the list of Medium Human Development country. Bhutan ranked third in this area ranked at 129, India ranked 131. 

Countries listed lower than Bangladesh are Nepal at 142, Pakistan at 152 and finally, Afghanistan at 169.

Multidimensional poverty would turn into a problem soon

UNDP Bangladesh's Resident Representative, Sudipto Mukerjee, believes that Bangladesh has made impressive strides in human development and is in a right track to its goal.

However,  he said that multidimensional poverty would bring a crisis ahead for the country.

According to Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), globally, a person is identified as multidimensionally poor if they are deprived in at least one third of the weighted Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) indicators. 

In other words, a person is multidimensionally poor if the person’s weighted deprivation score is equal to or higher than the poverty cut off of 33.33%.

Following the Alkire-Foster (AF) methodology, the MPI is calculated by multiplying the incidence of poverty (proportion of the population that is multidimensionally poor) and the average intensity of poverty (average proportion of dimensions in which poor people are deprived). 

So, MPI reflects both the share of people in poverty and the degree to which they are deprived.

According to the OPHI, for Bangladesh the percentage of people who are MPI poor is above 24%. Meanwhile, UNDP's Human Development Report showed that the MPI value for Bangladesh is 0.104, or 24.6% people are multidimensionally poor.

Increasing number of discrimination and inequality among the people is said to be the reason behind the increase number of multidimensional poverty, the UNDP chief in Bangladesh observed.

He, however, said in a fast developing country such discrimination has been observed very often.

When asked about the remedy, he said only an inclusive sustainable approach would be the key here.

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