Ms Kaarina Immonen presents Human Development Report 2016 book toMr Kikeo Chanthaboury in Vientiane Capital on Mar 22
(KPL) Lao PDR’s 2015 Human Development Index (HDI) ranks it at 138 out of 188 countries and territories, which puts the country in the medium human development category and signifies a jump by three ranks compared to the year before.
On average, Lao people now go to school over 3 years longer than in 1990, and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita increased by over 200 percent between 1990 and 2015.
Lao PDR’s surge in human development of almost 50 percent since 1990 continues on a positive trajectory even as inequalities are rising both locally and globally.
Exclusion of women, people living in remote areas and ethnic groups create chronic barriers for human development progress and lead to significant disparities within the Asia-Pacific region, leaving many behind. This is one of the key findings of the Human Development Report 2016 entitled ‘Human Development for Everyone’, launched on March 22 in Vientiane Capital.
The report finds that although on average human development improved significantly across all regions from 1990 to 2015, almost 1.5 billion people worldwide live in multidimensional poverty – reflecting acute deprivations in health, education and standards of living.
“Lao PDR has made impressive progress in the past decades, which, amongst other successes, has increased life expectancy by 13 years since 1990,” said UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Lao PDR, Ms Kaarina Immonen.
“However, almost 37 percent of the population suffers from multidimensional poverty, which means they face disadvantages that overlap and reinforce each other,” said Ms Immonen.
Lao PDR’s Human Development Index is below the average for countries in the medium human development group and below the average for countries in East Asia and the Pacific.
The Human Development Index, as an average measurement, masks inequalities in the distribution of human development across the population at the country level.
“The report is very importance for us that will help the country to graduate from the Least Developed Countries status by 2020. The more important indicators are three, like GNI, Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI), and the HDI. The GNI and EVI, we are quite on track, but HDI is quite challenging for the Lao government,” said Vice Minister of Planning and Investment, Mr. Kikeo Chanthaboury.
The global report shows that in general, on global issues, the HDI in most of the countries seems to not be increasing well. Some countries are stable at the same level and some are decreasing a bit, but Laos has made significant in progress in the HDI, said Mr. Kikeo.
Once discounted for inequality, Lao PDR’s index drops by over 27 percent. Multiple challenges, like remoteness in location, ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexual orientation result in inequalities and groups trapped in multidimensional poverty.
These groups need specific attention if we want to ensure human development reaches everyone. Multidimensional poverty systematically impacts the most vulnerable in Lao PDR and creates barriers that are not purely economic, but political, social and cultural.
Marginalised groups often have limited opportunities to influence the institutions and policies that determine their lives. Changing this is central to breaking the vicious circle of exclusion and deprivation.
In Lao PDR, over 2.3 million people (or 36.8 percent of the population) are multi-dimensionally poor, while an additional almost 2 million people live in near-multi-dimensional poverty.
“This year’s Human Development Report, which is UNDP’s flagship publication, calls for greater attention to the most marginalised groups in society and recognises the importance of giving them greater consideration in decision-making processes,” said Mr Balasumbramaniam Murali, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative who presented the report at the launch event.