Spatial disparity between the Capital and the Atolls contribute to Human Development Gap, confirms the Maldives Human Development Report 2014

The last decade has seen the Maldives achieve remarkable progress on the developmental front. It has gained significant economic growth, confirmed by its graduation to a middle-income country in 2011, and is the first MDG plus country in South Asia having met five out of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  Amidst these notable achievements, underlying disparities within the country continue to remain a major challenge towards Human Development, finds the Maldives Human Development Report 2014.

The Report – Bridging the Divide: Addressing vulnerabilities, Reducing Inequalities – presents an informative yet, critical analysis of these disparities, focusing on the inequalities that continue to exist in the country while shedding light on the vulnerabilities faced by the country that significantly contributes to these inequalities. By establishing sub-regional Human Development Index for the first time in the country’s history, the report reveals that the spatial disparity between the capital Male’ and the atolls contributes greatly to the existing Human Development gap, most notably in the form of income and educational choices.

For instance, the report finds that a person living in the Capital Male’ is likely to complete three more years of schooling compared to a person living in the atolls, and the average income of a person living in the capital is nearly twice as that of what a person living in an atoll earns. Inequalities that exist in access to quality health care between the capital and the atolls have led to a sizeable number of people travelling to Male’ to gain access to better healthcare, that eventually contributes to high number of deaths registered in Male’ compared to atolls.

“Where one is born within the Maldives determines many of the opportunities and choices available to a person. Remote islands with small populations have limited accessibility to services including schooling, healthcare, social services, job opportunities and face overall isolation,” the report states.

To address these vulnerabilities and inequalities, the report presents a framework on equality and vulnerability that would guide the development of inclusive policies and measures for action, amongst many other recommendations. It concludes by advocating to policy makers and key stakeholders to address the root of the problems, locally termed ‘Kamuge Aslu Belun’, to reducing inequalities and vulnerabilities which the report finds in income, education and health – the three dimensions of Human Development.

“With the launch of the report, we have now reached the most critical juncture – the implementation of the recommendations outlined in the report. I am pleased to reaffirm that the Government of Maldives remain committed to support the implementation of the recommendations of the report and in integrating the human development perspective in designing public policies,” said the Minister of Health and Gender, Honorable Dr. Mariyam Shakeela during her address after launching the report.

Meanwhile Mr. Devanand Ramiah, the Officer-in-Charge of UNDP Maldives spoke on the influential role that Human Development Reports have played in other countries while expressing his hope that the Maldives Human Development Report will be no different in influencing the national development.

“The timing of the launch of the report could not have been more optimal from a policy perspective. As the new government embarks on policy making, we hope the analysis, recommendations and data in the report will inform decision making,” said Mr. Ramiah.

In the days coming forth, UNDP Maldives will be sharing the report with key national partners including government ministries, independent institutions, local councils and local NGOs and associations.

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