KATHMANDU, Nov 5: Despite instability and slowed growth, Nepal featured as one of the top 10 countries in the world that improved the most in terms of human development over the past 40 years, experiencing rapid progress from low starting point in 2010 from 1970.
The main drivers of country´s achievement were health and education and the progress can be traced to public policy efforts, says the 2010 Human Development Report released Thursday.
In terms of income, however, the country continues to reel under high multi-dimensional poverty and rising inequality. Gender gap too poses another big challenge to the country.
In annual rankings, the report places Nepal at the 138th position among 169 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) - a composite national measure of health, education and income.
The report -- 20th anniversary edition -- has used new data and methodologies. For instance, it uses gross national income (GNI) per capita, replacing gross domestic product (GDP) per capita to include income from remittances and international development assistance.
In education, expected years schooling for school-age children has replaced gross enrollment, and average years of schooling in the adult population has replaced adult literacy rates, aiming to provide a fuller picture of education level. Life expectancy remains the main indicator for health.
Going by the report, average Nepali´s life expectancy at birth is 67.5 years. It is 15.7 years lesser than a Japanese national, who lead HDI in terms of health.
Likewise, Nepalis´ mean year of schooling remains just at 3.2 years, much lesser than 12.6 years of Norwegian nationals that lead the world in HDI in 2010. The expected years of school of Nepalis stand better at 8.8 years when compared to mean years of schooling. Still it is far lesser than 20.5 years of Australia that ranked 2nd in HDI for 2010.
The report says Nepal´s NGI per capita for 2010 stands at US$ 1,201 in purchasing power parity terms.
Nepal ranked better in gender inequality index at 110th position, with maternal mortality ratio of 830 per 100,000 live births, adolescent fertility rate of 101.4 per 1000 women and 33.2 percent representation in parliament.
However, the report notes only 17.9 percent of Nepal´s female population above 25 years has secondary level education and only 19 percent births are attended by skilled health personnel.
Furthermore, 64.7 percent of Nepalis reel under multi-dimensional poverty with intensity of deprivation at 54.1 percent. Additional 15.6 percent population is at risk of multidimensional poverty. When compared at purchasing power parity of US$ 1.25 a day, population below income poverty stands at 55.1 percent.
The report says overall, people today are healthier, wealthier and better educated than before. While not all trends are positive, there is much countries can do to improve people´s lives even in adverse conditions, it says and urges for courageous local leadership and continued commitment of the international community.
The report shows Norway, Australia and New Zealand leading the world in HDI achievement with Niger, Congo and Zimbabwe at the bottom of annual rankings.