ZIMBABWE has made great strides in human development over the past six years with positive improvements in critical areas such as health, education, income and gender equality, overtaking many countries in Sub Saharan Africa, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has revealed.
The Human Development Report is published by the UNDP.
United Nations Resident Co-ordinator, Mr Bishow Parajuli, attributed Zimbabwe’s positive gains to a number of factors.
“The 2015 Human Development Report gives a significant recognition to Zimbabwe’s human development gains since 2009,” he said.
“Zimbabwe gained the most in the Human Development Index ranking in Sub-Saharan Africa since 2009, moving upward in the ranking by 12 places. “This didn’t happen without a reason. There are several underlying factors behind this achievement.”
He said some of the positives were the increase in life expectancy from 49,6 percent in 2010 to 57,5 years in 2014.
Mr Parajuli said the reduction in HIV prevalence from 28,4 percent in 2000 to 14,3 percent in 2014 with indications of further decline to around 13,8 percent in 2015, were some of the reasons behind the increase in life expectancy.
“There has been reduction in maternal mortality by one-third from 960 per 100 000 live births in 2009 to 614 in 2014.
“Increase in child immunisation to 69 percent and a reduction in child mortality rate from 94 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2009 to 75 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2014,” said Mr Parajuli.
On the education sector, he said the expected years of schooling increased from 10,5 to 10,9 while mean years of schooling remained at 7,3.
“We can boast a literacy rate of 99,6 percent. This is an exceptional achievement. Congratulations! On the income side, gross national income per capita expanded from $1 442 to $1 615 during the same period.
“On gender equality, there is gender parity at primary and secondary schools. Owing to the progressive constitutional provision, women parliamentarians now account for 35 percent, higher than the global 22 percent. There is increased advocacy to end child marriage and gender based violence,” said Mr Parajuli.
He said there were, however, challenges that needed to be addressed to sustain the gains while efforts should also be put in place to counter emerging issues.
“We are cognisant of the ongoing re-engagement efforts to speed-up key legal and economic reforms and its highly anticipated outcome to unlock investment and to turnaround the economy.
“As we stand today, the economic slowdown and informalisation of the economy, a sizeable share of the Zimbabwean workforce seem to be underemployed and engaged in vulnerable employment.
“These people neither have decent working conditions nor adequate compensation for the risks they encounter. They hardly have access to any social protection. In this regard, a vibrant national employment strategy is vital for creating opportunities for work. On the other hand, we need to have systems that guarantees worker’s rights, benefits and social protection,” said Mr Parajuli.
He said there was need for the country to address the high levels of poverty and to intensify mitigation against the effects of climate change through enhancing water and soil management.
In his remarks, Dr Sibanda said the positive gains scored by Zimbabwe in the face of several challenges were a reflection of the resilience of the country’s economy and Government commitment to its recovery.
“Government places great importance to issues that deal with sustainable human development and progress, as such matters are at the core of the country’ socio-economic blueprint, Zim-Asset.
“It has to be noted that the Zimbabwean Government has consistently sought to strengthen human capital development and to place people at the very centre of the development process.” herald