Rwanda: Human Development Report Misleading - UN Envoy
14 November 2011
The data that were used in measuring Rwanda's performance in various development indicators in the 2011 Human Development Report (HDR) are outdated, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Rwanda, said yesterday.
"The figures were not updated, and did not come from our office (in Kigali)," Aurelien Agbenonci told The New Times, in reference to the UNDP's 2011 Human Development Report, titled, Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All, which was launched globally in Copenhagen, on November 2.
The Report, which featured the 2011 Human Development Index (HDI), a composite measure of health, education and income, ranked Rwanda 166 out of 187 countries with comparative data, and an HDI of 0.429, below the average of Sub-Saharan Africa (0.463).
The HDR is a UNDP affiliated office, which produces annual publications about human development around the world.
Agbenonci, who is also the co-chair of the Development Partners Coordination Group in Rwanda, added: "We will get in touch with the HDR office at the headquarters. We are also handling the matter with the Government."
The UNDP Resident Representative, however, refrained from delving into further details, insisting he did not wish to make more comments about the report in the media.
On its part, the Government has equally contested the ranking, citing use of archaic data, misleading comparisons, and unknown data sources. The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, John Rwangombwa, said the report largely relied on the 2005 data, and questioned the relevance of comparing such obsolete data, with that of 2009 and 2010 for other countries.
"Estimated indices are based on data from international sources that are supposed to allow comparison between countries; however for Rwanda, data used are often more than five years old.
"That actually means comparing countries at different periods of time, and still ranking them as if data referred to the same period, which is misleading and makes questionable any conclusion and/or comparison between countries," Rwangomba stated last evening.
He pointed out particular examples, such as the contraceptive prevalence rate, which the HDR put at 36, yet it currently stands at 45; "births attended by skilled health personnel were put at 52, while today it stands at 69; while women fertility rate was taken to be 5.3, while, in reality, it's 4.6."
"The methodology used in updating some of the data is not based on judgement within country context. It completely ignores developments at national level."
According to the Report, the proportion of Rwandans living under the poverty line is about 58.5 percent, a figure the Ministry of Finance says is even higher that the percentage of six years ago.
"Any assumption or results from this estimation can only be erroneous for Rwanda as it would mean increasing rates of poverty and inequality in Rwanda over the last five years or more; which everybody who knows Rwanda would agree as being unsound and in contradiction with trends," Rwangombwa added.
Explaining about Rwanda's ranking, the HDR states in part: "The most recent survey data that were publically available for Rwanda's MPI (Multidimensional Poverty Index) estimation refer to 2005."
It says that Rwanda has a Gender Inequality Index (GII) value of 0.453, ranking it 82 out of 146 countries in the 2011 index, adding that women hold 50.9 percent seats in the country's parliament - below the actual women representation in the House. It put Rwanda's life expectancy at 55.4 years.
In the 2010 HDR, Rwanda was ranked 152 out of 169 countries. "However, it is misleading to compare values and rankings with those of previously published reports, because the underlying data and methods have changed, as well as the number of countries included in the HDI," the report said.
Globally, it urges new approaches to development financing and environmental controls, stating that these measures were both essential and feasible, and that the challenges of sustainability and equity must be addressed together.AllAfrica.com (click here)