Malawi up 5 places on Development Index


Malawi has moved up five steps on the 2021-22 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) from position 174 out of 189 countries to position 169 out of 191 countries.

The report, ‘Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World’, has given Malawi an HDI score of 0.514 as compared to a value of 0.483 in 2020.

Malawi’s improved position is largely on the account of improving the income purchasing power parity (PPP) from $1,080 in 2020 to $1,466 in 2021.


According to the report, Malawi has registered a regression in the life expectancy from 64.9 years in 2020 to 62.9 years in 2021 as well as a reduction in the mean years of being in school from 6.1 years in 2020 to 4.5 years in 2021.

The HDI was created to emphasise that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone.

HDI is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development; a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and having a decent standard of living. The HDI is the geometric mean of normalised indices for each of the three dimensions.


The health dimension is assessed by life expectancy at birth, the education dimension is measured by means of years of schooling for adults aged 25 years and more and expected years of schooling for children of school entering age.

The standard of living dimension is measured by gross national income per capita. The HDI uses the logarithm of income to reflect the diminishing importance of income with increasing GNI.

The scores for the three HDI dimension indices are then aggregated into a composite index using geometric mean.

The HDI can be used to question national policy choices, asking how two countries with the same level of GNI per capita can end up with different human development outcomes. These contrasts can stimulate debate about government policy priorities.

In his foreword, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner says the Covid pandemic, now in its third year, continues to spin off new variants.

Steiner further says the war in Ukraine had reverberated throughout the world, causing immense human suffering, including a cost-of-living crisis.

He adds that climate and ecological disasters threaten the world daily.

“As with its predecessors, the report also challenges conventional notions of progress, where self-defeating tradeoffs are being made. Gains in some areas, as in years of schooling or life expectancy, do not compensate for losses in others, as in people’s sense of control over their lives. Nor can we enjoy material wealth at the expense of planetary health.

“This report firmly positions human development not just as a goal but as a means to a path forward in uncertain times. reminding us of people in all our complexity, our diversity. our creativity are the real wealth of nations,” Steiner says.

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