Global human development, which can be measured as a combination of the world’s education, health and living standards, could decline this year for the first time since the concept was introduced in 1990, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) warned.
“The world has seen many crises over the past 30 years, including the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-09. Each has hit human development hard but, overall, development gains accrued globally year-on-year,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency on Wednesday.
“COVID-19, with its triple hit to health, education, and income, may change this trend.”
Declines in fundamental areas of human development are being felt across most countries, rich and poor, in every region, according to a UNDP statement.
The worldwide COVID-19 death toll has increased to 328,095, while the global per capita income this year is expected to fall by 4 per cent, it said.
With school closures, UNDP estimates of the “effective out-of-school rate”, the percentage of primary school-age children, adjusted to reflect those without internet access, indicate that 60 per cent of children are not getting an education, leading to global levels not seen since the 1980s.
The combined impact of these shocks could signify the largest reversal in human development on record, the statement said.
The negative impacts on women and girls span economic — earning and saving less and greater job insecurity — reproductive health, unpaid care work and gender-based violence.
The drop in human development is expected to be much higher in developing countries that are less able to cope with the pandemic’s social and economic fallout than richer nations.
“This crisis shows that if we fail to bring equity into the policy toolkit, many will fall further behind. This is particularly important for the ‘new necessities’ of the 21st century, such as access to the internet, which is helping us to benefit from tele-education, tele-medicine, and to work from home,” said Pedro Conceicao, director of the Human Development Report Office at the UNDP.
The UNDP is the leading UN organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change.
Working with its broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, the UNDP helps nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. (IANS)