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Kenya lags behind in human development, UN report reveals

IN NEW YORK Kenya ranks highest among East African countries on the United Nations’ human development index, but it still lags far behind the world’s most developed countries, a new report shows.

Kenya has risen one place on the human development index over the past year, now ranking 142 out of 189 countries included in the UN survey released on Friday.

Kenya stands near the bottom in a grouping of countries said to have achieved “medium human development.”

Norway tops the global chart. It ranks first in the set of countries with “very high human development.”

Five sub-Saharan countries — Burundi, Chad, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Niger — occupy the bottom five places on the global scale.


The human development index is a composite formula focused on three basic measurements: life expectancy at birth; years of schooling; per capita earnings.

Life expectancy for Kenyans born in 2017 stands at 67.3 years, compared to Norway’s 82.3 years. Kenyan women are expected to live nearly five years longer than Kenyan men — 69.7 years for females and 64.9 for men.

The mean number of years that Kenyans attend school is currently 6.5, with a significant gap between females (5.7 years) and males (7.1 years), the UN Development Programme reports.

An even greater degree of inequality is found in the share of gross national income for men and women in Kenya. The overall per capita figure last year was $2961 — $2529 for females and $3398 for males.

Kenyans express a middling degree of satisfaction with their lives, which reaches a level of 4.5 on a scale of 0 (lowest degree of satisfaction) to 10 (highest degree). Norwegians put their level of satisfaction with life at 7.6.


This “perception of individual well-being” in the UN global survey is based on polling responses regarding quality of education, health care and living standard, along with a sense of personal safety and freedom of choice.

Human development has been advancing in all regions of the world during the past three decades, the UN report notes.

South Asia recorded the fastest rate of improvement, followed by East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Differences in specific aspects of development, however, remain stark.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has, on average, 39 pupils per teacher while in developed regions, there is an average of one teacher for every 16-18 primary school pupils,” the report states.

Advanced countries have, on average, about 29 physicians for every 10,000 people. But there are fewer than two doctors for every 10,000 sub-Saharan Africans.

Daily Nation

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