2014 was a crucial year for global development. The spread of Ebola in west Africa is deeply troubling for the region and the world and proved why aid and strong health systems in poor countries matter. Fragile health systems in developing countries threaten progress on all fronts.
Here are the most important development reports of the year:
1. The global under-five mortality rate fell by almost half
According to a 2014 UNICEF report, since 1990, the global under-five mortality rate has declined by nearly half (49%), from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births to 46 deaths in 2013. Over the same period, the neonatal mortality rate (the probability of dying in the first 28 days after birth) has been reduced by 40%, from 33 deaths per 1,000 live births to 20. This decline in preventable child deaths is one of the most significant achievement in human history.
2. Global poverty overall is on the decline
According to 2014 World Bank’s global poverty report, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty (on less than $1.25) has declined by 60% from 1990 to 2011, and now stands at 1 billion (down from 1.9 billion). As a percentage of the entire global population, this is down from 36% in 1990 to 14.5% in 2011. The world’s most populous countries, China and India have played a major role in the global reduction of poverty as measured by the $1.25 poverty line. Together they lifted nearly 232 million people from 2008 to 2011
3. South Sudan rolled out the pentavalent vaccine
South Sudan launched the pentavalent vaccine in 2014, making it the final GAVI-eligible country to roll out that critical 5-in-1 vaccine. Pentavalent, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) as well as hepatitis B (hepB) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), was first introduced with GAVI support in Kenya in 2001. South Sudan became the 73rd and final GAVI-supported country to introduce the vaccine on 16th July 2014.
4. The disparity of health care resources in the developed vs. developing world is huge
The spread of Ebola in west Africa is deeply troubling for the region and the world. This chart from The Economist compares the health spending per person in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia and Guinea with the US. As you can see, the gap is huge.
5. The beginning of the end of AIDS
6. Norway has the highest human development, while Niger has the lowest
While the 2014 report indicates improvement and progress overall, it found that more than 2.2 billion people are near or living in multidimensional poverty, with 1.2 billion people currently living on less than $1.25 per day. Approximately 842 million people suffer from chronic hunger, and more than 1.5 billion workers are either informally employed or hold unstable jobs. The following chart, created by statistics portal Statista, illustrates the countries with the highest and lowest human development. Each figure represents a given country’s human development index (HDI) rank, based on a scale of 0-1 (the global HDI is 0.702).
7. Many countries in Africa do not have access to reliable electricity
Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index map, released this year, assesses the prevalence of corruption in countries across the world. Here’s a summary of the findings of its 2013 index.