Briefing Papers Number 2, May 2008 - Page 4

express their opinions and concerns, especially through an active press. Without a way to express their needs and hold leaders accountable, poor people cannot advocate for the reforms and investments needed to help them move out of poverty. By listening to poor people, government policymakers can invest wisely to spur development and meet the MDGs. In Botswana, good governance has led to strong progress in human development in spite of “a small population, a narrow economic base, a poor natural resource endowment,” and one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates in the world.12 Economic growth that depends on extracting and selling natural resources can create problems since countries with large stores of natural resources tend to become uncompetitive in other industries. Botswana’s economy is no exception: it depends heavily on diamonds, while the country’s agricultural output from 1990-2000 was negative.13 More recently, agricultural production has increased, but both farm and industrial production are still limited. Despite daunting problems, Botswana is making progress on the MDGs in large part because of a committed, efficient, and transparent government. Since the 1990s, hunger has declined from 14 percent to 6.5 percent and maternal mortality has been cut in half, from 300 deaths per 100,000 live births to 150.14 Moreover, the government has worked hard to ensure that the gains from economic growth are used to fund basic infrastructure needs, such as roads, water, and electricity, as well as services such as hospitals and schools. Botswana’s example shows what is possible when governments invest in people. The opposite is equally true: government actions can easily stop development in its tracks and reverse progress. Zimbabwe illustrates the devastating impact that poor governance can have on a country and people. Governance Indicators 2006, Selected Regions 100 90 Voice & Accountability Government Effectiveness Regulatory Quality 80 Control of Corruption Percentile Rank (0-100) 70 60 After decades of repression under colonialism and apartheid, Zimbabwe held free elections in 1979 which brought Robert Mugabe to power. The years that followed promised an African success story: a country with indigenous leadership capable of delivering economic growth and human development. While a number of African countries fell into a cycle of conflict after the end of the cold war, Zimbabwe, like its neighbors South Africa and Botswana, was able to maintain peace and stability. During the 1980s there were periods of economic volatility, but generally the economy was growing and this helped to drive human development. The United Nation’s Human Development Index (HDI), a composite score of the well-being of a country’s people, reflected steady improvements over the first decade after Mugabe took office. In 1990, Zimbabwe’s HDI score placed it solidly in the middle of developing countries.15 Today, Zimbabwe ranks 151st out of 177 countries on the HDI.16 This decline in people’s well-being mirrors the increasing autocracy of Zimbabwe’s government and its failure to deliver social ser vices and manage the economy. In 2000, the government launched a large-scale land redistribution scheme. In the face of mounting protests over the plan, the government shut down newspapers and jailed political opposition leaders. Along with civil unrest, land redistribution caused an 8.5 percent decline in agricultural output between 2000 and 2005.17 Since 2000, Zimbabwe’s economy has shrunk by an average of 6 percent per year.18 The International Monetary Fund estimates that annual inflation was 1,700 percent in February 2007.19 The impact of the downward economic spiral has reverberated throughout the country. The last available national statistics show that 45 percent of the population is undernourished. Maternal mortality and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis are on the rise.20 Unless there is a miraculous turnaround, it is highly unlikely that Zimbabwe will meet the MDGs. The contributions and support of the international community are critical to achieving the MDGs. But as the striking differences between Botswana and Zimbabwe illustrate, development depends equally on the commitment of developing countries to open, accountable, and efficient governments. Development is much more difficult without strong leadership within a country. 50 Conflict and Instability 40 30 20 10 0 East Asia NICs (’Tigers’) East Asia Developing Sub-Saharan Africa Former Soviet Union Eastern Europe Latin America Source: Governance Matters VI: Governance Indicators for 1996-2006, by D. Kaufmann, A. Kraay and M. Mastruzzi, June 2007. 4  Briefing Paper, February 2008 Nearly three-quarters of the world’s very poorest countries, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa, have a recent history of conflict.21 Weak states preoccupied with quelling violence or staving off coups cannot focus on important development goals. Violence can quickly destroy the physical and financial environment needed to ensure sustainable development. Displaced populations are more vulnerable to hunger and disease. Livelihoods are abandoned and economic development reversed. Bombs and bullets scar the