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Human development is improving but greater effort is needed to sustain and accelerate development gains. Despite progress, the level of human development in Africa remains low, and aggregate indicators of growth mask significant variations between and within countries, as well as poverty and deprivation. Challenges relating to low human development, poverty and exclusion persist both in least developed and middle-income countries, which are also vulnerable to health, environmental and social risks. Gender inequality and exclusion exist in many countries with high levels of discrimination present in relation to access to resources and assets, as well as violence against women. Distribution of income and consumption in Africa is highly skewed, and socio-economic and geographic differences contribute to uneven human development within countries.

The post-2015 agenda for sustainable human development for all in Africa should focus on the integration of equity, sustainability and vulnerability reduction in development planning, resource allocation, and implementation and monitoring of goals. This would include improved methods of measuring progress that consider variation in initial conditions and advances towards long-term sustainable financing for human development and social security. Dismantling economic, social and governance structures that create and perpetuate extreme inequality can help to reduce extreme poverty, enhance social welfare, and accelerate progress towards national, regional and global development goals.

Figure 4.1 Change in human development by Africa’s regions, 1980-2013

Figure 4.1 Change in human development by Africa’s regions, 1980-2013

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