By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi |

Ethiopia has been pointed out as one of the few countries in Africa on track to meet all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), despite starting out with some of the lowest levels of human development in the world.

A case study by Development Progress which explored progress in material wellbeing in Ethiopia, measured by reduction in income poverty,
 and two key contributors to material wellbeing: education and employment, shows that even though Ethiopia started out with some of the lowest levels of human development in the world leading up to 2000, the country according to the World Bank has experienced some of the fastest improvements in poverty reduction in the world, albeit from a very high base.

The study citing a World Bank data for 2014 found that between 1995 and 2011, Ethiopia’s poverty rate fell from 63 per cent to 37 per cent, faster than both low-income-country and sub-Saharan African averages.

“Poverty reduction in rural areas has been particularly impressive: Ethiopia’s rural poverty rate is among the lowest in the East African region. Urban poverty reduction has lagged behind, however, increasing from 33 per cent to 37 per cent between 1995 and 1999 before declining to 26 per cent in 2011,” the World Bank said.

The study however, recognizes the concerns of governance, but does not look at these in a concerted way.

“While many challenges remain for this large and diverse country, the broad-based progress achieved in Ethiopia
 over the past 10-15 years offers some important lessons for countries looking to scale up the ambition of their development agendas, and it demonstrates how a multidimensional approach can begin to encourage development actors to work more comprehensively and consistently,” the authors said in a summary.

Among other things, the study notes that while many other countries undergoing rapid poverty reduction and high economic growth have seen inequality increase, Ethiopia has maintained one of the lowest levels of income inequality among low- and lower-middle-income countries. It is ranked 12th among 84 countries with available data and third in sub-Saharan Africa according to World Bank GINI coefficient estimates.

The study indicates that the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey (ERHS) also reveals an increase in household assets in rural areas, perhaps indicating not only improved household welfare but also increased resilience in the face of shocks.

Data from the ERHS show nearly 50 per cent of households owning oxen in 2009, a near quadrupling from 13 per cent in 1994, and 86 per cent of households owning hoes, an increase from 59 per cent, the study said.

It however, states that remaining challenges in getting to ‘zero poverty’ include the country’s vulnerable climate and high rate of population growth. Gains for the poorest have also been limited, it said.

Source: Ghana Business News
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