KABUL, 18 November 2007 (IRIN)
Afghanistan was ranked 174th out of 178 countries - ahead of only Burkina Faso, Mali, Sierra Leone and Niger. In Afghanistan’s first-ever human development report, which was released in 2004, the country was ranked 173rd and was widely expected to improve its human development indicators.
Afghans live almost nine years less than people in other Least Developed Countries, the report’s findings show.
“Life expectancy [in Afghanistan] has dropped from 44.5 years in 2003 to 43.1 years in 2005,” states the report, which was released on 18 November in Kabul.
The report acknowledges Afghanistan’s steady progress in improving its health services and reducing child and maternal mortality figures (1,600 deaths per 100,000 births), but warns that over 30 Afghans still die from tuberculosis every day.
The NHDR ranks Afghanistan as the poorest country in Asia, with a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of US$964.
“Some 6.6 million Afghans do not meet their minimum food requirements, with 24 percent of households characterised by poor food consumption,” the report says. Consequently, almost half all Afghan children under five are underweight, it adds.
The report also found that less than 30 percent of Afghanistan’s estimated 24.5 million citizens have regular access to clean water.
Widely devastated by over 25 years of armed conflict, Afghanistan has one of the lowest adult literacy rates among developing countries, with the literacy rate for adults over the age of 15 falling from 28.7 percent in 2003 to 23.5 percent in 2005, the report states.
Afghan women, in particular, suffer lack of access to education. “Enrolment rates for women at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels are almost half that of men - 41.8 percent for females and 73.7 percent for males,” the report said.
Women are also deemed far behind men in other human development indicators, such as access to health services, employment opportunities and longevity.
Themes: (IRIN) Children, (IRIN) Early Warning, (IRIN) Economy, (IRIN) Education, (IRIN) Gender Issues, (IRIN) Health & Nutrition
| Report can be found online at: |