VIENTIANE, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Laos' surge in human development of almost 50 percent since 1990 continues on a positive trajectory even as inequalities are rising both in-country and globally, UNDP said in a press release on Wednesday.
Exclusion of women, people living in remote areas and ethnic groups create chronic barriers for human development progress and lead to significant disparities within the Asia-Pacific region, leaving many behind. This is one of the key findings of the Human Development Report 2016 entitled "Human Development for Everyone", launched Wednesday in Lao capital Vientiane in presence of Kikeo Chanthaboury, vice minister of Lao Planning and Investment and Kaarina Immonen, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Laos.
The report found that although on average human development improved significantly across all regions from 1990 to 2015, worldwide almost 1.5 billion people live in multidimensional poverty -- reflecting acute deprivations in health, education and standards of living.
"Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) has made impressive progress in the past decades, which, amongst other successes, has increased life expectancy by 13 years since 1990," said Immonen at the launch.
"However, almost 37 percent of the population suffer from multidimensional poverty, which means they face disadvantages that overlap and reinforce each other."
Lao PDR's 2015 Human Development Index ranks it at 138 out of 188 countries and territories which puts the country in the medium human development category and signifies a jump up by three ranks compared to the year before.
On average, Lao people now go to school over three years longer than in 1990, and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita increased by over 200 percent between 1990 and 2015.
Yet, Lao PDR's Human Development Index is below the average for countries in the medium human development group and below the average for countries in East Asia and the Pacific.
The Human Development Index, as an average measurement, masks inequalities in the distribution of human development across the population at the country level. Once discounted for inequality, Lao PDR's index drops by over 27 percent. Multiple challenges, like remoteness in location, ethnicity, gender, disability and sexual orientation result in inequalities and groups trapped in multidimensional poverty, according to the report.
These groups need specific attention to ensure that human development reaches everyone. Multidimensional poverty systematically impacts the most vulnerable in Lao PDR and creates barriers that are not purely economic, but political, social and cultural. Marginalised groups often have limited opportunities to influence the institutions and policies that determine their lives. Changing this is central to breaking the vicious circle of exclusion and deprivation.
In Laos, over 2.3 million people (or 36.8 percent of the population) are multidimensionally poor, while an additional almost 2 million people live near multidimensional poverty.
"This year's Human Development Report, which is UNDP's flagship publication, calls for greater attention to the most marginalised groups in society and recognises the importance of giving them greater consideration in decision-making processes," said Balasumbramaniam Murali, UNDP deputy resident representative who presented the report at the launch event.
"We at UNDP will continue to work with the government of Lao PDR in order to ensure the collection of key data, its refined analysis and suitable policy choices in order for human development to benefit all people of Lao PDR, especially to meet the national goal of graduation from the Least Developed Country status."