, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – A report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Thursday showed that the lives of Kenyans had improved over the past 20 years.
UNDP Policy Specialist Jose Pineda said it had improved by 16 percent from 1980 to 2010 with an annual increase of 0.5 percent in the UN Human Development Index (HDI).
“With such an increase Kenya is ranked 87 in terms of HDI improvement based on deviation from fit, which measures progress in comparison to the average progress of countries with a similar initial HDI level,” said Mr Pineda.
The Human Development Index is a summary measure of human development that is published by the UNDP.
According to the report Kenya is however still ranked in the low human development category at position 128 out of 169 countries under study.
But it is the best in East Africa with Uganda ranked at 143 and Tanzania 148.
Though Kenya has made good progress, the report indicated that low poverty index was a reflection of the wide disparities and deprivations within the country.
“For instance, while Nairobi has a human development level closer to Brazil and China, Northeastern areas have a level equivalent to Mali in the urban areas and as low as Niger in rural Northeastern part of the country,” the report said.
According to the report, in 2010 Kenya’s high levels of inequality became apparent as the country deteriorated from the level of a middle human development country to a low human development country.
“Kenya is positioned 0.012 points below the cut off point for middle human development country level,” the report noted.
However, there were high possibilities that the country would experience higher economic growth in view of the measures included in the new constitution to cut down on corruption by promoting transparency and accountability of public funds.
“It is however encouraging that the country is already exhibiting signs of resilience for continued higher growth, with a projected economic growth rate of 5 percent in 2010. The new Constitution, when implemented will strengthen institutions, institutionalize accountability and advance human development in Kenya,” the report indicated.
The report further revealed that Kenya’s life expectancy at birth had decreased by two years from 57.7 percent in 1980 to 55.6 percent.
Mean schooling years increased by four years by 2010.
It also indicated that the country’s Gross National Income had increased by 13 percent.