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Human Development Index  

The level of human development is commonly measured by the so-called “Human Development Index (HDI)" which ranks national states by level of “human development” within three dimensions (UNDP 2009):

  • A long and healthy life (indicator: life expectancy);
  • Knowledge and education (indicators: adult literacy rate and gross enrolment ratio); and
  • A decent standard of living (indicators: GDP per capita, PPP in US$).
Alphabetisation initiatives support development.
Source: Tump 2005
( click to enlarge )

The HDI is thus a composite index measuring development by combining indicators of life expectancy, educational attainment and income. Other aspects such as income inequality, gender, human rights or political freedom are not explicitly considered. Therefore, the HDI is sometimes criticised as an incomplete measure of human development.

Index values vary between 0 and 1 and are classified into four categories:

  • Very high human development (HDI of 0.900 or above);
  • High human development (HDI of 0.800-0.899);
  • Medium human development (HDI of 0.500-0.799); and
  • Low human development (HDI of less than 0.500).

In 2009 the Kunene River basin states have been categorised by the United Nations (UN) as “medium human development” countries (UNDP 2009). The past years have been characterised by a steady enhancement of the index in both basin countries.


A time series of annual HDI data from 1992 to 2002 published by AIP (Angola Instituto de Pesquisa Económica e Social) indicates a considerable increase in the HDI from 0.291 in 1992 to 0.381 in 2002. This positive tendency seems to have continued in post-conflict years, as latest UNDP data reveal a small increase from 0.541 in 2005 to 0.564 in 2007, ranking Angola 143rd out of 182 countries monitored (UNDP 2009).


According to the overall HDI 2009, Namibia is ranked 128th out of 182 countries monitored. Official UNDP data date back to 1990. The time series from 1990 to 2007 presented in the table below shows that Namibia’s HDI is slightly on the rise with an increase from 0.657 in 1990 to 0.686 in 2007.

Human Development Index Namibia

Year 1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007
HDI 0.657 0.675 0.661 0.672 0.678 0.686
Source: UNDP 2009
The initially mentioned "dimensions" composing the HDI are explained on the following pages:




Explore the sub-basins of the Kunene River

Video Interviews about the integrated and transboundary management of the Kunene River basin

View a historical timeline of the Kunene basin countries, including water agreements & infrastructure

Video scenes about the limited access to water of the San in Kunene Province