Life Expectancy Drops to 49

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By Emma Kakololo

WINDHOEK

Namibia’s Vision 2030 appears to be a far-fetched dream with the Human Development Index (HDI) deteriorating.

Contrary to the vision of Vision 2030, life expectancy has worsened over the years and might take the country more than three decades (by 2045) to reach the levels before 1991 when life expectancy was 61 years, according to a recent study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“You are not going to reach the same number like in 1991 until 2045,” said the author of the report, Sebastian Levine, yesterday.

Life expectancy stands at 49, while 69 is the desired age set to be achieved through Vision 2030.

According to Levine, this “long-term decline” in life expectancy was pulling down HDI despite improvements in household income and educational attainment, the other two dimensions of human development.

In addition, he said, despite the fact that income poverty appeared to be decreasing, human poverty was increasing over time.

“Life expectancy is falling because the HIV pandemic is so strong that it more than offsets the positive effects of improvements in the other dimensions of human development.”

The report that was released yesterday as part of the commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty also reveals great inequalities in human development between different regions and between the country’s main language groups.

In terms of HDI, Khomas and Erongo rank the highest among the 13 administrative regions, and Ohangwena and Kavango the lowest.

Rural areas generally perform worse than urban areas in all three dimensions of human development. However, HDI has increased over time in the five regions of Erongo, Karas, Otjozondjupa, Omaheke and Kunene, which are also the regions that have seen the lowest fall in life expectancy.

The language group with the highest HDI is that of German speakers who have an HDI level that is comparable to the average in Sweden and Canada, which are the global high-flyers ranked 5 and 6 last year, respectively, which are even much higher than Germany.

At the other extreme are the Khoisan speakers who have an HDI level that is comparable to countries such as Eritrea and Rwanda, the countries among the 20 lowest ranked countries globally.

The HDI is found to be also slightly lower for women than for men, an indication of persistent gender inequality in the country.

Levine stressed the need for effective implementation of programmes to treat those with HIV as well as prevent new HIV infections for the expansion of human capabilities.

He also called for reallocations in the development budget, as regions with greater need are under-prioritised in the currents budgets.

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