HDR 2019 Launch: Beyond income, beyond averages and beyond today

December 31, 2019

Guest of honor, Prof Adolf Mkenda, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism cutting the ribbon signifying the local launch of HDR 2019 in Dodoma. Joining in are Christine Musisi (l) UNDP Resident Representative, Anthony Mtaka (c) Simiyu Regional Commissioner and looking on next to Prof Mkenda is Mayor of Dodoma Prof. Davis Mwamfupe and USAID Representative

Tanzania is among the African countries which have made significant strides in advancing human development, gaining ground on primary education and health. This is revealed in the 2019 Human Development Report entitled – Beyond Income, Beyond Averages, Beyond Today: Inequalities in Human Development in the 21st Century’

Tanzania’s Human Development Index (HDI) value for 2018 is 0.528, which put the country in the low human development category – positioning it at 159 out of 189 countries and territories. Despite the low position, between 1990 and 2018, Tanzania’s HDI value increased from 0.373 to 0.528, an increase of 41.8 percent. This translates progress in in each HDI indicators, for example life expectancy at birth increased by 14.8 years, mean years of schooling has increased by 2.4 years and expected years of schooling increased by 2.5 years. Moreover, Tanzania’s GNI per capita increased by about 88.2 percent between 1990 and 2018. 

The report further elaborates that Tanzania’s 2018 GDI of 0.528 is above average of 0.507 for countries in the low human development group and below the average of 0.541 for countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa. From Sub-Saharan Africa, countries which are close Tanzania in 2018 HDI rank and to some extent in population size are Côte d’Ivoire and Uganda, which have HDI’s ranked 165 and 159 respectively. To access Tanzania HDR briefing note click HERE

What is new about this Human Development Report

- It shifts the human development lens from those furthest behind to those further along the human development spectrum – those who have caught up in basic capabilities but are behind in enhanced capabilities and finding it harder to close the gap.

- The report shows inequalities are closing when it comes to basic needs but there is a widening divide in access to emerging opportunities which were scarcely imaginable at the turn of the last century but will be indispensable going to the next century. The report also draws our attention to the significance of resilience to climate impacts, especially in our largely agricultural dependent economies at household community and national level.

- The report does a deep dive into the unevenness of progress achieved in key areas such as women’s empowerment pointing to a rising backlash that is accompanying progress in gender parity

Inequalities in human development are a defining bottle neck in achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, which is driven by the principle of leaving no one behind.  

 “Inequality is one of the major societal ill that must not be tolerated among countries, within countries, and even within households. It slows down development and fails to harness the full potential of the large numbers of the population at work and in life.” Commented Christine Musisi, UNDP Resident Representative. She further adds, “it is wasteful of the countries valuable resources and fosters a vicious cycle of multi-generational poverty. This inevitably hurts economies and it hurts societies.”

In his official remarks, the Guest of honor, Prof. Adolf Mkenda, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism said,  “the report we are launching today, must be a cause of more reflections and deliberations and discussions on matters of social, of fair distribution, and once again on how to assess human progress over far and beyond income.”   

The global report analyzes inequality in three steps: Beyond income, beyond averages, and beyond today. But the problem of inequality is not beyond solutions, it says, proposing a battery of policy options to tackle it.  

 Thinking beyond income

The 2019 Human Development Index (HDI) and its sister index, the 2019 Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Index, set out that the unequal distribution of education, health and living standards stymied countries’ progress. By these measures, 20 per cent of human development progress was lost through inequalities in 2018. The report, therefore, recommends policies that look at but also go beyond income, including:

Early childhood and lifelong investment: Inequality begins even before birth and can accumulate, amplified by differences in health and education, into adulthood. For example, children in professional families in the United States are exposed to three times as many words as children in families receiving welfare benefits, with a knock-on effect on test scores later in life. Policies to address it, therefore, must also start at or before birth, including investing in young children’s learning, health and nutrition.

Looking beyond averages

Averages often hide what is really going on in society, says the HDR, and while they can be helpful in telling a larger story, much more detailed information is needed to create policies to tackle inequality effectively. This is true in tackling the multiple dimensions of poverty, in meeting the needs of those being left furthest behind such as people with disabilities, and in promoting gender equality and empowerment. For example:

• Gender equality: Based on current trends, it will take 202 years to close the gender gap in economic opportunity alone, cites the report. While the silence on abuse is breaking, the glass ceiling for women to progress is not. Instead, it is a story of bias and backlash. For example, at the very time when progress is meant to be accelerating to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the report’s 2019 Gender Inequality Index says progress actually is slowing.

Planning beyond today

Looking beyond today, the report asks how inequality may change in future, looking particularly at two seismic shifts that will shape life up to the 22nd century:

The climate crisis: As a range of global protests demonstrate, policies crucial to tackling the climate crisis like putting a price on carbon can be mis-managed, increasing perceived and actual inequalities for the less well-off, who spend more of their income on energy-intensive goods and services than their richer neighbours. If revenues from carbon pricing are recycled’ to benefit taxpayers as part of a broader social policy package, the authors argue, then such policies could reduce rather than increase inequality.

The launch ceremony of the 2019 Human Development Report at the country level, took place on 18th December in Dodoma. The ceremony was attended by various stakeholders including, NGOs, Government institutions, other UN organizations, Development Partners, students and members of the media.  

HDR launch resources



HDI Fact Sheet