Cameroon

The Human Development Index - going beyond income


Each year since 1990 the Human Development Report has published the human development index (HDI) that looks beyond GDP to a broader definition of well-being. The HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary level) and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, income). The index is not in any sense a comprehensive measure of human development. It does not, for example, include important indicators such as inequality and difficult to measure indicators like respect for human rights and political freedoms. What it does provide is a broadened prism for viewing human progress and the complex relationship between income and well-being.

The HDI for Cameroon is 0.506, which gives Cameroon a rank of 144th out of 177 countries with data (Table 1).


Table 1: Cameroon’s human development index 2004
HDI value Life expectancy at birth
(years)
Adult literacy rate
(% ages 15 and older)
Combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio
(%)
GDP per capita
(PPP US$)
1. Norway (0.965)
142. Timor-Leste (0.512)
143. Madagascar (0.509)
144. Cameroon (0.506)
145. Uganda (0.502)
146. Swaziland (0.500)
1. Japan (82.2)
157. Tanzania, U. Rep. of (45.9)
158. Côte d'Ivoire (45.9)
159. Cameroon (45.7)
160. Guinea-Bissau (44.8)
161. Niger (44.6)
1. Georgia (100.0)
99. Lao People's Dem. Rep. (68.7)
100. Zambia (68.0)
101. Cameroon (67.9)
102. Angola (67.4)
103. Congo, Dem. Rep. of the (67.2)
1. Australia (113.2)
124. Sri Lanka (62.7)
125. Syrian Arab Republic (62.6)
126. Cameroon (62.3)
127. India (62.0)
128. Lao People's Dem. Rep. (61.0)
1. Luxembourg (69,961)
125. Angola (2,180)
126. Guinea (2,180)
127. Cameroon (2,174)
128. Chad (2,090)
129. Zimbabwe (2,065)
177. Niger (0.311) 177. Swaziland (31.3) 128. Mali (19.0) 172. Niger (21.5) 172. Sierra Leone (561)

This year’s HDI, which refers to 2004, highlights the very large gaps in well-being and life chances that continue to divide our increasingly interconnected world. By looking at some of the most fundamental aspects of people’s lives and opportunities it provides a much more complete picture of a country’s development than other indicators, such as GDP per capita. Figure 1 illustrates that countries on the same level of HDI as Cameroon can have very different levels of income and life expectancy.

Human development index trends tell an important story. Since the mid-1970s almost all regions have been progressively increasing their HDI score (Figure 2). East Asia and South Asia have accelerated progress since 1990. Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), following a catastrophic decline in the first half of the 1990s, has also recovered to the level before the reversal. The major exception is Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 1990 it has stagnated, partly because of economic reversal but principally because of the catastrophic effect of HIV/AIDS on life expectancy.

Figure 1:
The human development index gives
a more complete picture than income



Human poverty in Cameroon: focusing on the most deprived in multiple dimensions of poverty


The HDI measures the average progress of a country in human development. The Human Poverty Index for developing countries (HPI-1), focuses on the proportion of people below a threshold level in the same dimensions of human development as the human development index - living a long and healthy life, having access to education, and a decent standard of living. By looking beyond income deprivation, the HPI-1 represents a multi-dimensional alternative to the $1 a day (PPP US$) poverty measure.

The HPI-1 value for Cameroon, 35.6, ranks 61st among 102 developing countries for which the index has been calculated.

The HPI-1 measures severe deprivation in health by the proportion of people who are not expected to survive age 40. Education is measured by the adult illiteracy rate. And a decent standard of living is measured by the unweighted average of people without access to an improved water source and the proportion of children under age 5 who are underweight for their age. Table 2 shows the values for these variables for Cameroon and compares them to other countries.

Figure 2:


Table 2: Selected indicators of human poverty for Cameroon
Human Poverty Index
(HPI-1)
2004
Probability of not surviving past age 40
(%)
2004
Adult illiteracy rate
(%ages 15 and older)
2004
People without access to an improved water source
(%)
2004
Children underweight for age
(% ages 0-5)
2004
1. Uruguay (3.3)
59. Morocco (33.4)
60. Kenya (35.5)
61. Cameroon (35.6)
62. Uganda (36.0)
63. Lao People's Dem. Rep. (36.0)
1. Hong Kong, China (SAR) (1.5)
151. Guinea-Bissau (42.9)
152. South Africa (43.3)
153. Cameroon (43.9)
154. Tanzania, U. Rep. of (44.4)
155. Kenya (44.8)
1. Cuba (0.2)
90. Lao People's Dem. Rep. (31.3)
91. Zambia (32.0)
92. Cameroon (32.1)
93. Angola (32.6)
94. Congo, Dem. Rep. of the (32.8)
1. Bulgaria (1)
89. Yemen (33)
90. Benin (33)
91. Cameroon (34)
92. Bhutan (38)
93. Mongolia (38)
1. Chile (1)
79. Gambia (17)
80. Côte d'Ivoire (17)
81. Cameroon (18)
82. Djibouti (18)
83. Lesotho (18)
102. Mali (60.2) 172. Swaziland (74.3) 117. Mali (81.0) 125. Ethiopia (78) 134. Nepal (48)

Building the capabilities of women

The HDI measures average achievements in a country, but it does not incorporate the degree of gender imbalance in these achievements. The gender-related development index (GDI), introduced in Human Development Report 1995, measures achievements in the same dimensions using the same indicators as the HDI but captures inequalities in achievement between women and men. It is simply the HDI adjusted downward for gender inequality. The greater the gender disparity in basic human development, the lower is a country's GDI relative to its HDI.

Cameroon’s GDI value, 0.497 should be compared to its HDI value of 0.506. Its GDI value is 98.2% of its HDI value. Out of the 136 countries with both HDI and GDI values, 105 countries have a better ratio than Cameroon's.

Table 3 shows how Cameroon’s ratio of GDI to HDI compares to other countries, and also shows its values for selected underlying values in the calculation of the GDI.

 

Table 3: The GDI compared to the HDI – a measure of gender disparity
GDI as % of HDI Life expectancy at birth
(years)
2004
Adult literacy rate
(% ages 15 and older)
2004
Combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio
2004
-
Female as % male
Female as % male
Female as % male
1. Luxembourg (100.4 %)
104. Angola (98.3 %)
105. Zimbabwe (98.3 %)
106. Cameroon (98.2 %)
107. Jordan (98.2 %)
108. Syrian Arab Republic (98.1 %)
1. Russian Federation (122.4 %)
167. Mali (102.7 %)
168. Bangladesh (102.7 %)
169. Cameroon (102.6 %)
170. Gabon (102.4 %)
171. Solomon Islands (102.3 %)
1. Lesotho (122.5 %)
85. Zambia (78.4 %)
86. Tunisia (78.4 %)
87. Cameroon (77.7 %)
88. Burundi (77.6 %)
89. Iraq (76.3 %)
1. United Arab Emirates (126.0 %)
167. Equatorial Guinea (81.7 %)
168. Burundi (80.9 %)
169. Cameroon (80.3 %)
170. Congo, Dem. Rep. of the (78.8 %)
171. Iraq (76.2 %)
136. Yemen (94.0 %) 191. Kenya (95.8 %) 115. Afghanistan (29.2 %) 189. Afghanistan (40.9 %)


Cameroon in Human Development Report 2006

Cameroon was mentioned in the Report in pages 7, 36, 43, 44, 206, 212, 271, and 402.