Speech by UNDP Res. Rep. - Launch of the National Human Development Report for Ethiopia

Apr 29, 2015

Launch of the

National Human Development Report

for Ethiopia

 

Welcome Remarks

by

Mr. Eugene Owusu

UNDP Ethiopia Resident Representative

 

 

UN Conference Centre

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,

29 April 2015

 

H. E. Dr. Mulatu Teshome, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,

 

H.E.  Mekonnen Manyazewal, Minister and Commissioner, National Planning Commission,

 

Excellencies

 

Distinguished participants,

 

 

 

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the launch of the latest National Human Development Report, which has the theme: “Accelerating inclusive growth for sustainable human development in Ethiopia”.

 

I thank the President of Ethiopia, H. E. Dr. Mulatu Teshome for taking time off pressing matters of state to join us today.   Excellency, we are honoured to have you with us on this important occasion.

 

I would also like to use this opportunity to thank HE Minister Mekonnen Manyazewal for his technical advice and valuable personal guidance provided to us during the preparation of this report.

Thanks also to Sara Menker for agreeing to provide us with her valuable reflections on the report.

 

The last time UNDP launched a National Human Development Report in Ethiopia was back in 1998. So this is truly a landmark occasion for UNDP, and we are delighted to have so many of our partners with us here today to discuss and debate the important messages emanating from this report.

 

Excellencies, Distinguished guests

 

The primary objective of National Human Development reports, such as the one we are launching today, is to stimulate discussion with policy makers and practitioners. The independent analysis captured in this National Human Development Report has been produced through a consultative process with MoFED, the National Planning Commission, the private sector, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders.

 

A truly country-driven national human development report process contributes significantly to the overall quality and credibility of the report. I wish to thank all the experts for their valuable contribution that led to the production of this high quality report. 

 

There has not been, nor will there always be, agreement about the text, the conclusions, and the recommendations in such reports. The independence given to the drafters of the report is also very much in keeping with the spirit and intentions of all human development reports – global, regional and national. This has been the case the first Human Development Report was produced 25 years ago.

 

Ethiopia is tackling some very complex development issues and there are bound to be constructive differences over how best to move forward. We produced this report as part of our contribution to that ongoing dialogue on how best to drive inclusive growth and enhance human development in the years ahead.

 

Given the central role national human development reports can, and do play, in fostering discourse of important development topics, our intention going forward is to produce in Ethiopia national human development reports every two years.

 

Looking at the country through the lens of inclusivity, this National Human Development Report comes up with a number of interesting findings and recommendations. Let me highlight four of them:

 

First, Ethiopia is seeing not just strong economic growth, but the translation of that growth into improved lives as well, through investments in education, health, social protection, essential infrastructure, and water and sanitation.

 

The national human development index has seen a steady increase from 0.350 in 2005 to 0.461 in 2013. This is an impressive annual average change of 3.5 percent.

 

Over the last fifteen years, for instance, education has been expanding rapidly. Net enrolments in primary school have almost trebled.  Currently, 85.7 percent of Ethiopian primary age children are attending primary school.  Access to basic health services and health gains also show dramatic improvements over the last decade, with life expectancy increasing by a massive 20 years.

But while Ethiopia has come a long way over the last decade or more, it still has a long road ahead to become middle income and carbon neutral. Specifically, the country’s ranking on the Human Development Index has not moved appreciably over the past decade. Ethiopia currently ranks 173 out of 187 countries in the latest global UNDP Human Development Report.

 

A key finding of the report is that Ethiopia can move from its current ‘low human development’ designation to a ‘medium human development’ category by 2025 if it sustains the current growth trend.

 

The report also recognizes the role the private sector can play in supporting sustained growth, which is why it calls for continued efforts to support the private sector’s emergence as a vital force in Ethiopia’s development.

Second, the report finds that gains from Ethiopia’s growth and development are not being evenly distributed among all groups and across and within all regions of the country.

 

Some 2.5 million Ethiopians have been lifted out of poverty between 2005 and 2010/11. 

 

But this progress is tempered by the fact that although the incidence of poverty is declining, the severity of poverty is increasing. There is also the sobering reality that some 25 million Ethiopians are still living below the poverty line.

 

As a result of high population growth, the absolute number of poor people has remained largely unchanged over the last 15 years. 

 

Moreover, those just above the poverty line are vulnerable to shocks, setbacks, and food insecurity.

 

This speaks both to the progress made and the magnitude of the challenges still remaining, the need to focus on reaching the poorest of the poor more effectively, and the importance of strengthening community resilience to shocks.

 

Third, addressing regional disparities is essential to ensure that growth can be inclusive.

 

One of the most important contributions of this National Human Development Report has been its computation of Human Development Indexes for each of the regions in Ethiopia, the first time this exercise has been undertaken.

 

This analysis show that there has been a significant improvement in human development in all regions, but that there are also variations in the progress across regions. For example, the human development index values for Afar, Somali, Amhara, and Oromia are below the national value of 0.461.

 

On the other hand the human development index value for Gambella stands at 0.472 and is markedly higher than the other developing regional states. This has been attributed to the higher educational attainment in that region.

 

I commend the Government for putting in place favourable policy and institutional frameworks to ensure equity between the regions. The analysis from the report, however, demonstrates that more remains to be done to promote regional equity. This is true especially in the case of improving access to and the use of essential basic services among the pastoralist communities.

 

This is important for promoting not just inclusive growth, but also social cohesion.

 

Fourth, the proactive role of the State in shaping socio-economic policies has been pivotal for the sustained strong economic and social progress witnessed over the last decade.

 

We have seen this role in the Government’s heavy investment in economic and social infrastructure; in revamping the tax collection system; supporting small and medium enterprises; in strengthening decentralization and local governance; and in prioritizing industry and agriculture as key drivers of sustained economic growth and job creation.

Going forward, the report identifies a few key areas to which it suggests Ethiopia pay attention if it is to realize growth that is both sustainable and inclusive.

 

Chief among these is the need to focus on job creation. Existing rates of unemployment and under-employment in both rural and urban areas speak to the need for large numbers of productive jobs to be created. This is especially important to reap a demographic dividend from the growing cohorts of university graduates and young people in particular.

 

To this end, the role of the private sector and industry as engines of growth need to be maximised, including through expanding access to credit and lowering business transaction costs.

 

The report also underscores the importance of continuing to boost agriculture yields and value-added.

 

It stresses the need to continue investing in human capital by expanding access to quality education and health services across regions.  This includes strengthening support for vocational training and entrepreneurship.

 

Making growth inclusive also calls for promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls.  Policy and institutional measures have brought about some positive results, especially in terms of gender parity in education and women’s participation in the political arena. Still, disparities persist between women and men in employment, in leadership and decision-making, and we continue to see high rates of violence against women too.

 

It is likewise important to continue improving good governance and enhancing institutional effectiveness in public service delivery, at the federal level down to the kebele level. This will help make Government more accountable and responsive to the needs of all citizens.

 

Excellencies,

 

In less than a month Ethiopia will be holding its national general elections.

 

Ensuring credible, free and fair elections is so important to ensure that all Ethiopians have an equal say in decisions which affect their lives; and to encourage their participation in a range of political activities in the future.

 

Within UNDP, we see democracy and good governance not just as important ends in themselves. They are also important means to improve and secure development.

 

 

For a report to be relevant and useful, it must be grounded in national development plans and policies.  This report has utilized data generated from official sources and benefitted from the contribution of an array of national actors. This has ensured that the report is better equipped to offer sound and realistic analysis and policy messages.

 

To continue providing such analysis in the future, we need to continue to have access to timely and quality data. UNDP will continue to support the Government’s efforts to strengthen the national capacity to generate, analyze, use, and disseminate accurate data.

 

More broadly, UNDP stands ready to work with Government in continuing and strengthening its efforts to ensure that its phenomenal growth is able to help improve the lives and livelihoods of as many Ethiopians as possible.

 

Ethiopia over the last fifteen years has shown both that it is serious about development and that it can deliver on its ambitions.  Indeed, what Ethiopia has achieved in recent times with strong leadership, clear commitments, and a can-do spirit is an example for the rest of this continent that results can be achieved and that ambitious plans can be met.

 

We hope this report can foster some policy debates about the path Ethiopia takes over the next fifteen years.

In that spirit of solidarity and partnership, I hope you will find the report useful and that it will contribute to shaping policies and perspectives on human development in Ethiopia.

 

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