CAIRO: Egypt ranked 123 out of 182 countries in the 2009 Human Development Report, sliding 11 spots from last year and placing it in the “Medium Human Development category.
The United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) 2009 report released this week weighs a number of factors, including life expectancy, water quality, and GDP per capita, in determining each country’s ranking.
Topping the list were Norway, Australia, Iceland, Canada and Ireland. On the opposite end, Mali, the Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Niger represented numbers 178 to 182.
The United States was ranked 13.
Not only did Egypt find itself in the bottom third of the human development list, but it also finds itself lagging behind many of its Arab neighbors.
Kuwait placed highest among the Arab states, coming in at 31. A number of the Gulf states quickly followed.
Libya, at 55, ranked highest among non-Gulf Arab states. Even Palestine, ranking 110, placed ahead of Egypt.
Egypt, though, did place better than Morocco, Yemen and Sudan.
In sum, the report is an indication that despite improvements Egypt has made over the years, other developing nations are outstripping Egypt in political, social, and economic reform. One bright spot, though, is that the data for this report was collected in 2007, meaning that the reforms of the past two years and Egypt’s relative resilience in the economic crisis may make this report somewhat outdated.
According to the survey, Egypt’s life expectancy ranks 102nd at 69.9 years. It ranks 119th in adult literacy, with 66.4 percent of Egyptians above age 15 having the ability to read.
One of the strong arguments the UN makes in publishing this report is that income alone is a poor measure of a country’s development. In an example, the survey notes that Egypt tops Syria by more than $800 in GDP per capita. Add in the other social factors, though, and Syria passes Egypt as a better place to live.
The survey, according to the UNDP website, “looks beyond GDP to a broader definition of well-being. The HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and gross enrolment in education) and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, income).
Egypt also ranked 82 in the Human Poverty Index (HPI) out of 135 countries surveyed. This survey, says the report, “focuses on the proportion of people below certain threshold levels in each of the dimensions of the human development index – living a long and healthy life, having access to education, and a decent standard of living.
According to the report, Egyptians have a 7.2 percent chance of not living to age 40. 6 percent of Egyptian children under age five are underweight.
Charts provided by the UNDP indicate improvements Egypt has been making since 1990. Its trend line, though, is pretty much in step with the rest of the region’s.
The rankings put out by the report suggest that Egypt’s reform programs have done little to boost the country’s fortunes in terms of basic development metrics.