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 1990 mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic, warns the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner says that the world has seen many crises over the past 30 years, including the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-09 (Recession). Each (of the crisis) has hit human development hard but, overall, development gains accrued globally year-on-year. He said that the COVID-19 with its triple hit to health, education, and income can change this trend.
Declines in fundamental areas of human development are being felt across most countries – rich and poor – in every region, according to UNDP statements.
COVID-19’s global death toll has exceeded 300,000 people, while the global per capita income this year is expected to fall by four percent; UNDP
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 percent 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, UNDP noted.
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 ones. UNDP estimates indicate that 86 percent of children in primary education are now out-of-school in countries with low human development. While in countries with very high human development out of school children are only 20 percent. UNDP also noted that this gap in education can be brought closer with more equitable internet access.
This crisis shows that if we fail to bring equity into the policy toolkit, many will fall further behind. Pedro Conceiçao, Director of the Human Development Report Office at UNDP says that 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, telemedicine, and to work from home.
Implementing equity-focused approaches would be affordable. For instance, closing the gap in access to the Internet for low- and middle-income countries is estimated to cost just one percent of the extraordinary fiscal support packages the world has so far committed to respond to COVID-19.
The importance of equity is emphasized in the United Nations’ framework for the immediate socio-economic response to the COVID-19 crisis, which sets out a green, gender-equal, good governance baseline from which to build a ‘new normal”.
UNDP recommends five priority steps to tackle the complexity of this crisis:
1)- protecting health systems and services;
2)- ramping up social protection;
3)- protecting jobs, small- and medium-sized businesses, and informal sector workers;
4)- making macroeconomic policies work for everyone;
5)- promoting peace, good governance, and trust to build social cohesion.
UNDP called on the international community to rapidly invest in the ability of developing countries to follow these(abovementioned) steps.