Guyana faces chronic difficulties with Wealth Distribution, Hinterland Dev. and Social Inclusion-UNDP
Guyana as an independent state still grapples with issues relating to the equal distribution of wealth, development of hinterland regions and the pursuance of social cohesion. These problems saw the nation ranking in the Medium Human Development category of the Human Development Report 2016, which was launched today, (Wednesday, April 26, 2017).
The report which gives an account of the achievements, challenges and hopes for human progress, builds on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that the 193 member states of the United Nations endorsed last year and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the world has committed to achieving.
In the Human Development Index (HDI), Guyana received a .638 value, which it has maintained at least since 2014, and bringing it to a position is 127 out of 188 countries and territories. The country with the highest Human development is Norway with a .949 value.
Speaking at the University of Guyana this morning, (Wednesday, April 26, 2017), Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ms. Shabnam Mallick, says after 50 years of independence, while progress exists, a situation of chronic difficulties continued in three areas.
She outlined that “one is transforming the country’s natural wealth into human development- in this regard, recalled our discussion capabilities earlier, natural wealth is a resource, it is the bicycle, it needs to be transformed into capabilities which can be used for advancing human development. 2. Accelerating development efforts in hinterland, remote and poor areas. This is about distribution of resources and capabilities which as we note earlier, is more critical than just having resources concentrated only in certain areas. 3. Pursuing social inclusion and social cohesion measures.”
Giving an overview of key findings in the report “Human Development for Everyone”, Program Specialist at the UNDP, Dr. Patrick Chesney, noted that between 1980 and 2015, Guyana saw an increase in its HDI value from 0.541 to its current status of 0.638; an improvement of almost 18 percent.
Some of the areas which the country saw improvements are life expectancy at birth, Literacy rate of persons above the age of 15, Gross national income per capita and expected years of schooling.
The composite Human Development Index (HDI) integrates three basic dimensions of human development. Life expectancy at birth reflects the ability to lead a long and healthy life. Mean years of schooling and expected years of schooling reflect the ability to acquire knowledge. And gross national income per capita reflects the ability to achieve a decent standard of living. The report can be found at http://hdr.undp.org/en/2016-report.
Delivering the feature address was Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan who noted that notwithstanding the many positives, several challenges still loom. “Climate Change, infrastructure gaps, food security, public safety and security, quality education, services, communicable and non-communicable diseases, and equitable provision of public services across all ten regions, pose daunting hurdles to achieving sustainable development for all,” he said.
He however pointed out that defining a country’s development level must NOT be solely driven by the one-dimensional formula of ‘the total currency earned by the country divided by the total number of persons living in the country.’
The Minister questioned whether Guyana, a middle income country, should be considered ineligible for development partner support and denied continued access to concessional resources, because its per capita income has increased, even though geographical and other inequalities exist. He alluded to an education system that leaves 87% of 11 year olds unable to accomplish the most basic numeracy skill while another 75% is unable to comprehend their own language.
“The answer to whether a single dimension indicator should be used is obviously a resounding NO, and we will continue the struggle with like-minded partners to fashion a more-appropriate, all embracing, universally accepted measure,” he noted.
Guyana having improved its ranking is now being forced to take over the funding of key initiatives. Recent reports have alluded to a dwindling funding to combat HIV/AIDS, raising questions about the Government’s ability to now maintain the gains made thus far.
The Minister called on developed countries to implement fully their official development commitments, as it is critical to achieving the 2030 vision of the SDGs.
The 2016 HDR explores who has been left out in the progress in human development and why. It argues that to ensure human development for everyone, a mere mapping of the nature and location of deprivations is not enough. Some aspects of the human development approach and assessment perspectives have to be brought to the fore.
The document also identifies the national policies and key strategies that will enable every human being to achieve basic human development and to sustain and protect the gains.