2014 Human Development Report Launched in Myanmar

Jul 24, 2014

With HDI value 0.524 Myanmar is positioned 150 out of 187 countries

Persistent vulnerability threatens human development. Unless it is systematically tackled by policies and social norms, progress will be neither equitable nor sustainable. This is the core premise of the 2014 Human Development Report, released globally today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Entitled Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, the Report provides a fresh perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience. In Yangon, the report was launched at an event attended by 30 journalists.

According to income-based measures of poverty, 1.2 billion people live with $1.25 or less a day. However, the latest estimates of the UNDP Multidimensional Poverty Index reveal that almost 1.5 billion people in 91 developing countries are living in poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards. Myanmar is one of these countries. And although poverty is declining overall, almost 800 million people are at risk of falling back into poverty if setbacks occur.

“The 2014 human Development Report has two basic propositions. One is that people’s vulnerability is influenced by their capabilities and the society they live in. The other is that failures to protect people against vulnerability are mostly a consequence of inadequate policies and poor or dysfunctional social institutions. And while almost anyone can be vulnerable to some event or shock, this Report focuses on those particularly vulnerable,” said Igor Bosc, Officer in Charge and Senior Programme Advisor at UNDP Myanmar.

The Report states that universal access to basic social services such as education, health care, water supply and sanitation, and public safety enhances resilience.

“Social policies that have a universal aim not only protect those who currently experience poverty, poor health or unemployment; they also protect individuals and households that are doing well but may find themselves struggling if things go wrong. In Myanmar, between one quarter to one third of the population is estimated to be living under the poverty line. But altogether almost 80% of inhabitants are living either under poverty or very close to it as many households may easily slide into poverty, driven by events such as natural disasters, economic shocks, or even violent conflict.”

The Report emphasizes that universal provision has in many instances been associated with greater poverty reduction, greater redistribution and lower inequality. 

The majority of the world’s population lacks comprehensive social protections such as pensions and unemployment insurance. The Report argues that such measures are achievable by countries at all stages of development.

“It is a misconception that only wealthy countries can afford social protection or universal social services. Universal Social Services can be granted fairly quickly such as in the case of China, Rwanda and Vietnam.”

“A basic social protection package is affordable so long as low-income countries reallocate funds and raise domestic resources, coupled with support by the international donor community,” it states.

The Report holds that as crises spread ever faster and further, it is critical to understand vulnerability in order to secure gains and sustain progress.

It points to a slowdown in human development growth across all regions, as measured by the Human Development Index (HDI). It notes that threats such as financial crises, fluctuations in food prices, natural disasters and violent conflict significantly impede progress.

The 2014 Human Development Report comes at a critical time, as attention turns to the creation of a new development agenda following the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

“Reducing both poverty and people's vulnerability to falling into poverty must be a central objective of the post-2015 agenda,” the Report states. “Eliminating extreme poverty is not just about 'getting to zero'; it is also about staying there.”

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ABOUT THIS REPORT: The Human Development Report is an editorially independent publication of the United Nations Development Programme. For free downloads of the 2014 Human Development Report, plus additional reference materials on its indices and specific regional implications, please visit: http://hdr.undp.org 

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UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

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