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Lesotho is low on human development


Ntsoaki Motaung

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with the Ministry of Development Planning launched the Human Development Report 2020 under the theme: The Next Frontier; Human Development and the Anthropocene.

Speaking at the event of the launch in Maseru on Wednesday, Minister of Development Planning Selibe Mochoboroane challenged everyone to think about how to implement the ambitions to attaining development, while also keeping an eye on its impact on nature.

“Covid-19 has shown us that radical changes are possible with commitment and joint vision. The greatest impact of the Anthropocene that we face as a nation is increasing poverty and vulnerabilities of our society. Improving Lesotho’s Human Development index, from current 0.52 to 0.64 by the year 22/23 remains one of our biggest concerns,” he said.

“While we navigate the current pandemic and in the era of the Anthropocene, we cannot let business remain as usual. This report is a call to pursue entirely a new path that all countries, societies and economies must adopt to save humanity from unforeseen crises and doom,” he said.

The Minister stated that due to declining agricultural productivity as a result of the climate change induced drought, at least 500,000 people have been declared food insecure, on annual basis for more than a decade. He pointed out that the recent torrential rains further affected the country’s development infrastructure and challenged sustainability of investment decisions and strategies moving forward.       

In her remarks, the Resident Representative of the UNDP Betty Wabunoha said the Human Development Report is a flagship report focusing on providing evidence-based analysis and policy options for building human capabilities, freedoms, and choices for achieving development.

“Since 1990, at the first publication of the Human Development Report, the report has interrogated many development issues. As UNDP, we are proud that even today, 30 years later, the report continues to influence the development discourse and policy decisions at global, regional and country level. The Human Development Reports have focused on ways to expand people’s choices and their ability to live a long healthy life, to have access to schooling, to make a decent livelihood, and to be able to achieve their full potential,” she said.

She said in this 30th anniversary edition of the Human Development Report, focus is on the inter- relationship between the people and the planet.

“This relationship has entered a new territory, the age of the Anthropocene. The report indicates that ‘for the first time in a relationship spanning over 300,000 years, instead of the planet shaping humans, humans are shaping the planet’, – this is Anthropocene, the age of humans,” she said.

Wabunoha indicated that the human development approach is about increasing opportunities and realizing the potential of every human being.

“Overtime, the world has achieved progress in health, education, and improved standards of living, as per past measures of human development. However, this has come at a cost to the planet.  Actions such as use of natural resources, dependency on fossil fuels, increased materials consumption, have propelled the biodiversity collapse, environmental degradation and pollution. This has thus destabilised the natural ecosystem upon which both the planet and the people rely for survival. The report looks at how humanity has driven nature into this new era, how humanity can navigate it and how we can work together to transform pathways to human progress while containing the effects of the Anthropocene,” she said.

When giving the key findings of the report, ‘Mabulara Tsuene Head of Strategy and Policy at UNDP, indicated that the report came up with a measure called the human development index which gauges human development levels.

“This human development index is a standard measure of standard education, health access and living standards of communities and people within countries. Through this index countries are ranged depending on progress that they made,” she said.

She indicated that Lesotho is ranged at the moment amongst the low human development countries at 165.

“It has in fact been decreasing over time because it was around 162 in 2019 and now it is at 165,” she said   

The 2020 Human Development Report marks the 30th Anniversary of the Human Development Report which is the latest in the series of global Human Development Reports published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since 1990 as independent and analytically and empirically grounded discussions of major development issues, trends and policies.

According to the report, in 189 countries Lesotho is ranked number 165 that is amongst the countries that are ranged Low Human Development alongside Mauritania, Benin, Uganda and Rwanda leading the category of countries that are on low human development.

The Human Development Report aims at expanding human development, easing planetary pressure through renewing human development for the Anthropocene, Mechanisms of change to catalyze action as well as exploring new metrics.

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