12:00 AM, November 25, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 25, 2010

LDCs An overview

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Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, chairperson of Brac, speaks at a dialogue on the least developed countries, in Dhaka yesterday.Photo: STAR

Since 1971, the United Nations has recognised the least developed countries as the "poorest and weakest segment" of the international community. Extreme poverty, the structural weaknesses of their economies and the lack of capacities related to growth, often compounded by structural handicaps, hamper the efforts of these countries to improve the quality of life of people. The countries are also characterised by their acute susceptibility to external economic shocks, communicable diseases, and natural and man-made disasters.
A low-income criterion, based on a three-year average estimate of the GNI per capita ($905 for inclusion; $1,086 for graduation)
A human capital status criterion, involving a composite human assets index (HAI) based on the indicators of:
a)NUTRITION: percentage of population undernourished
b)HEALTH: mortality rate for children aged five years or under
c)EDUCATION: the gross secondary school enrolment ratio
d)ADULT LITERACY RATE:An economic vulnerability criterion, involving a composite economic vulnerability index (EVI) based on the indicators of:
a)population size
c)merchandise export concentration
d)share of agriculture,forestry and fisheries in GDP
e)homelessness owing to natural disasters
f)instability of agricultural production
g)instability of exports of goods and services
To become eligible for graduation, a country must reach threshold levels for graduation for at least two of the aforementioned three criteria, or its GNI per capita must exceed at least twice the threshold level, and the likelihood that the level of GNI per capital is sustainable must be deemed high.
A triennial review is conducted for revising the list.
Distribution by region:
African countries: 33; Asia and the Pacific: 15; Latin America and the Caribbean:1
Geographical feature:
16 landlocked; 12 small islands
Total population in 2008:
815.16 million
Population growth (2005-2010):
2.37 percent per annum
Projected population in 2015:
965.2 million
Over 72 percent of the population lives in rural areas and depends for subsistence and income on agriculture
LDCs' GDP was $550 billion in 2008, which was less than 1.0 percent of the world GDP and 1.3percent of that of the OECD countries. In 2000, the comparable figures were 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent respectively
Current estimates for 2009 show a growth rate of just 4 percent
Annual GDP growth rate came down from a record 8.4 percent in 2007 to 7.0 percent in 2008
11 of the LDCs exceeded the 7.0 per cent growth target of the BPoA
Per capita GDP of LDCs was USD 670 in 2008 which was less than 30 per cent of that of the lower middle-income countries (USD 2,235), and differences in income between these countries have gradually increased in the 200s

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