Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, is ranked 163rd in the United Nations (UN) Human Development Index (HDI) for the second consecutive year, a new report by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) shows.
The HDI, published annually by the UNDP since 1990, measures the long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living of 191 countries.
In terms of the HDI score, Nigeria remained unchanged with 0.535. Its life expectancy reached 52.7 years in 2021, the expected years of schooling was 10.1, the mean years of schooling was 7.2 and the country’s income per capita hit $4,790 in 2021.
The report cited the Boko Haram insurgency which had led to devastating effects on their mental well-being and human development at large.
“In Nigeria, the insurgency has contributed to major mental distress, including severe emotional disorders, psychological distress, psychotic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression,” it stated.
It further stated that they have recruited young children to join its militia, causing severe mental distress associated with warfare.
“Some of these effects can be long-lasting if not adequately treated: children who survived the Vietnam war show increased symptoms of depression in adulthood.”
“Apart from the threat to physical integrity, armed conflicts can expose people to displacement, destroy critical infrastructure, disrupt supply chains, hinder investment and thus undermine economic growth and development, possibly resulting in massive unemployment—all adding to mental distress of large parts of the population,” it concluded.
According to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, about 1,200 people have been kidnapped in the first half of 2021 from 45 in 2010.
Data from SBM Intelligence also showed that between the period of July 2021 and June 2022, no fewer than 3,420 people were abducted across the country.
Experts say that insecurity not only impedes education when it shuts down schools, keeps children and teachers home, it also portends a longer term danger to the quality of labour force and human capital needed to drive a sustainable economy
Access to education/schools is problematic owing to the insecurity situation, says Damilola Adewale, a Lagos-based economic analyst.
“In rural communities in the north, some families might prefer their kids to stay at home. Out of school kids would have increased, causing literacy level to drop,” Adewale said.
Similarly, Confidence MacHarry, a resident security expert at SBM Intelligence noted that the more students are out of school, the more they are recruited by terrorist groups
“These large-scale abductions are fund-raising activities for them so that they can reinforce themselves and buy more weapons.”
The report highlighted that Switzerland tops this year’s rankings, followed by Norway, Iceland, Hong Kong, Australia, and other wealthy nations. Countries from sub-Saharan Africa are among the lowest ranked in human development, with South Sudan at the bottom.
“Uncertainty and the feeling of insecurity hardens people’s commitments to a group that shares a similar set of beliefs and increases hostility to other groups that think differently,” Pedro Conceicao, the report’s lead author said.
The report warns insecurity and polarization are feeding off each other. And that, it says, is preventing nations from taking the collective action needed to address the multiple threats and crises the world is facing.