Launch of the UNDP Swahili Edition of the 2013 Human Development Summary Report

Date/Location: 20 June 2013; Conference Room 3 (NLB), UN Headquarters

Key speakers: H.E. Mr Macharia Kamau (Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN), Ms Rebeca Grynspan (Associate Administrator, UNDP), Mr Khalid Malik (Director, Human Development Report Office), H.E. Mr Tuvako N. Manongi (Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the UN), Mr Babacar Cissé (Acting Director, Africa Bureau, UNDP)

Attended by: Sunny T.C. Hor, Janice H.W. Wong, Greg Swistel, Marli Kasdan, Alyssa Strasser

Written by: Sunny T.C. Hor

As the Human Development Report was made available in the 21st language, an event was held by the Kenyan Mission to the UN to mark the launch of the report in Swahili. The launch signified that the report became accessible to 150 million people in Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Burundi and other countries in East Africa.

Apart from praising the shifting paradigm of development from an economy- and GDP-based approach to a people-based one and the increasing availability of the Human Development Report in more languages, Ms Rebeca Grynspan of UNDP shared two important messages: first, the rise of the South is not just significant in that its economy is growing rapidly but because lives are improving at an unprecedented speed there; and second, to sustain the improvement of lives equity and sustainability must be considered.

Mr Khalid Malik of Human Development Report Office briefly highlighted the findings of the latest Human Development Report.


Drawing on the proactive developmental countries with low human development but improving at rates better than expected, he emphasized the importance of four factors: long term human development, job creation, health and education and industrial capacity building. The market is helpful to those countries’ development, but investment in people is equally, if not more, important, without which development is likely to be hindered.

He stressed the importance of social in addition to economic policy in driving growth and sustainable development. A growing or declining population, he said, is not the destiny of a country, but education and job creation will shape the demography, which has a huge impact. Finally, he remarked that the global economy currently consists of three engines: North America, Europe and the South, and for the first time, the North will need the South to sustain the economy.

To round up the event, the Permanent Representative of Kenya summarized the presentations with a few ‘takeaways’: education, health and income. He also lamented the immense wealth of knowledge and experience tied to the Swahili language and culture, which still wait to be unleashed by us. “Language is a gatekeeper, a blocker but also an enabler, an eye-opener and a transformer,” he said.

Edited By: Wayne Dean Doyle

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