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
Voice & Accountability
Control of Corruption
Percentile Rank (0-100)
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.
Conflict and Instability
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