Johannesburg, 3 May 2016 (ECA) – While trends in the rest of the world show an improvement in poverty levels compared to 20 years ago, Africa is getting poorer. This is according to the African Social Development Index – ASDI whose findings reveal that poverty, fueled by inequality, remains the single most driver of human exclusion in Africa. Women, youth and rural communities bare the most of human exclusion.
The ASDI is a tool developed by ECA to help member states track and measure human exclusion and inclusion for structural transformation.
Speaking at the launch of the sub-regional report for Southern Africa, in Johannesburg South Africa, Takyiwaa Manuh, ECA Director for Social Development Policy Division said that the ASDI was a collaborative effort between ECA and member States to help monitor and track human development. “The ASDI lays a firm foundation for monitoring sustainable development as envisioned in Agenda 20163 where our member States have collectively placed a high premium on inclusive development as one of the central pillars of Africa’s structural transformation.” She said.
Meanwhile, Bhekinkosi Moyo, Chief Executive Officer for Southern Africa Trust called for the inclusion of all sectors of society particularly people affected by the report. “For development to be inclusive and sustainable, it has first to be informed by evidence and shaped by the very people who are affected.” He said. Moyo said that sound policies were critical in solving the challenges revealed in the report. “This report shows that most countries are battling with challenges of youth unemployment, high levels of poverty, gender inequality, malnutrition, education and health mainly. How do our countries respond to these in a sustained manner? Part of the solution lies in sound and appropriate policies.” He said.
On their part, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development -NEPAD said that the ASDI was an integral part of an emerging African resolve to deliver results and tangible impact in the eyes of its citizens. “Africa is saying time to be busy doing things is gone – this is time to be busy delivering results” Said NEPAD’s Head of Programme Development Martin Bwalya.
The southern Africa ASDI report comprises of eight countries including Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia. There are variations between and within countries. The human exclusion in Botswana is higher in rural areas, than cities with infant mortality and youth unemployment as major drivers. Zambia and Malawi showed higher exclusion in cities than in rural areas with poverty and youth unemployment as major drivers.
The report also reveals that exclusion is predominantly an affair women affair. Women and girls are affected differently from their male counterparts which critically affect their future development and ability to participate in social, economic and decision-making processes. “Some of these differences are intrinsic to gender, while others are the result of cultural biases and social factors which can affect women through their circle of life” reads the report, further arguing that “women and girls generally bear the brunt of unpaid care work; are generally paid lower wages, suffer more than boys the truncated education and are likely to enter into informal unskilled labour and are more often victims of exploitation, violence or early marriages.
The report also reveals higher levels of human exclusion in rural areas. “Patterns of exclusion are also influenced by the geographical location in which an individual was born” reads the report, adding that people in the rural areas lack the basic social and economic infrastructure and basic services “that would allow them to develop their full potential.” However cities are also increasingly faced with a host of challenges from slams, congestion, poor infrastructure, to environmental and health hazards.
The ASDI defines human exclusion as the result of social, economic, political, institutional and cultural barriers that are manifested in deprived human conditions and that limit the capacity of individuals to benefit and contribute to economic growth.
The report concludes that exclusion is structural and can be redressed by country-specific exclusion patterns, through effective policy formulation. The challenge for African countries is therefore to accelerate the path of structural transformation, while addressing the factors that contribute to exclusion reads the report.
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