Poor nations getting worse, UN report says

HIV/AIDS has accounted for huge reversals in human development in Southern Africa, which could impact on the region meeting some of the UN's poverty-slashing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to a new report.

The UN's '2005 Human Development Report' released on Wednesday noted that 12 of the 18 countries that have suffered development reversals between 1990 and 2003 were in sub-Saharan Africa, with Southern Africa "hit hardest".

South Africa has plunged by 35 places to 120 on the global Human Development Index (HDI), Zimbabwe by 23 and Botswana 21 places. Reversals were also noted for Lesotho, Swaziland and Zambia. The HDI, which ranks 167 countries, focuses on three measurable dimensions of human development - living a long and healthy life; being educated; and having a decent standard of living.

"Most of Southern Africa has experienced a decent growth rate, however the impact of HIV/AIDS has affected the life expectancy in the region," commented Claes Johansson, one of the authors of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) report, reports Reuters.

According to the report, 50 countries with a combined population of almost 900 million are falling backwards on at leastone of the Goals.

"Another 65 countries with a combined population of 1.2 billionrisk failing to meet at least one MDG until after 2040," the report said. "In other words, they may miss the target by an entire generation."

In 2015, on current trends, there would be 827 million people living in extreme poverty, 380 million more than if the internationally agreed target were reached, and another 1.7 billion people would be living on 2 dollars a day, the report noted, informs Xinhua.

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