Bhutan ranked 136 out of 187 countries in Human Development
Across Asia and the Pacific, over a billion of people live just above the extreme poverty line, more than US $ 1.25 but less than US$2.50 a day. But in Bhutan, an estimated 12 percent of the population is poor and poverty in rural areas 16 percent is alarmingly higher than poverty in urban areas of 1.8 percent.
Bhutan multi-dimensional Poverty Report of 2012 highlights, the largest contributors to national poverty is due to deprived of education at 43 percent.
According to the Human Development Report (HDR) 2014 which was released last Friday stated that, the human development index (HDI) value for Bhutan is 0.584, which is close to the South Asian Average of 0.588, but below the world average of 0.702. Bhutan’s HDI value ranks in the “medium human development” category. Bhutan ranked at 136 out of 187 countries and territories, sharing the same rank with Cambodia.
The report further stated that, between 1980 and 2013, Bhutan’s life expectancy at birth increased by 23.3 years, mean years of schooling stayed the same and expected years of schooling increased by 8.4 years. In the same year, Bhutan’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita increased by about 536.2 percent.
Real progress on human development, then, is not only a matter of enlarging people’s critical choices and their ability to be educated, be healthy, have a reasonable standard of living and feel safe but it is incomplete without ex- ploring and assessing the vulnerability , the Report states.
UNDP’s Resident Representative Christina Carlson said, “Despite the immense progress Bhutan has made in improving its macro-level indicators, challenges still persist. Disparities between rural and urban areas are on the rise, as a result of increasing ruralurban migration, and the aging of the agricultural labour force”.
“Youth employment and women’s economic participation will be key factors that will influence Bhutan’s ability to achieve and maintain equitable and sustainable development in the coming years” she added.
The report states that, those who face multiple deprivations (marginalized communities, unemployed youth and women, and senior citizens) are especially at risk of falling back into poverty if disaster or crisis should occur.
The report recommended that governments to commits to the universal provision of basic social services and social protection to build resilience, especially for the poor and other vulnerable groups. It urges that countries in Asia and the Pacific do not have to wait to become rich in order to provide adequate social protection or basic social services.
Minister of Labour and Human Resources, Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo who lauched the HDR 2014 said, Bhutan do not have abject poverty, there is no hunger and in other countries, they have hunger and the poverty but still we cannot be complacent that we also have some Dzongkhags. For instance; Gasa, Zhemgang, Samtse and Dagana are some of the poor Dzongkhags in the country.
The unemployment rate among the Bhutanese youth ( 15- 24) years of age is considerably higher than the overall rate of 2.1 percent; among the male youth, unemployment stands at 9.5 percent, and among female youth, at 11.6 percent. These rates are much more pronounced among youth in urban areas compared to rural areas, rising sharply to 20.2 percent and 29.5 percent for male and female youth respectively, the report states.
Meanwhile, the report recommended that government to fast- track education reform policies and to accelerate broad based economic growth to create decent and well paid jobs that are essential for improving living standards.