Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Afganistan and human devolopment index (HDI)

The NYtimes has a story about a report that says how poorly afghanistan is doing:

ANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Feb. 21 - Three years after the United States drove the Taliban out of Afghanistan and vowed to rebuild, the war-shattered country ranked 173rd of 178 countries in the United Nations 2004 Human Development Index, according to a new report from the United Nations.

I'm sure it's terrible there in Afghanistan, but the story seems to be a not so subtle dig at the US using a story that doesn't make the numbers it is based on transparent. Of course this is pretty normal for the news today, so my more practiced google skills quickly bring out a few links:

Calculation of the HDI
(I can't paste it, it won't let me do a copy paste out of acrobat)
It's a combination of three indexes, life expectancy index, GDP index and educational attainment index. These things are indexed using the formula (max-actual)/(max-min) then combined.

Of course in a country like afganistan, these indexes will look bad. Especially since previous to 2002, women weren't allowed to be educated at all, now they are included in the education index. There was a war going on where 1000 people were killed in the last 18 months and the economy was bad.

I would have led with this part of the story instead:

Despite the problems, Afghanistan has shown remarkable progress in the three years since the United States-led war in 2001, the report said.

More than 54 percent of school-age children are enrolled, including four million high school students. The economy is making great strides, with growth of 16 percent in nondrug gross domestic product in 2003 and predicted growth of 10 to 12 percent annually for the next decade.

While there has been rapid progress, said Zphirin Diabr, associate administrator of the United Nations Development Program, the country has a long way to go just to get back to where it was 20 years ago. The figures, as President Hamid Karzai says in the report's introduction, paint a gloomy picture.

But the NYTimes isn't biased or anything.


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