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The human development approach emerged in response to the growing criticism of the use of economic development as a measure in the standard of living. The approach examines broader human development issues and is concerned with both building up human capabilities and with using those human capabilities fully. It underlines the expansion of opportunities so that the disadvantaged can do more for themselves through economic, social and political empowerment.

Human development approach recognizes that there is no automatic link between economic growth and human development. The link has to be made through deliberate policies at all levels. Economic growth is a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite to enlarge human choices .Economic growth provides resources to support health care, education, and advancement in other Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In turn, achievements in human development make critical contribution in assuring quality human capital to spur economic growth via productivity gains.

The  use  of  human  development  Index  (HDI),  normally in  the  Hunan  Development Reports (HDR) measure a country‘s development which is a composite index measuring average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development to reflect a country‘s achievements in health and longevity (as measured by life expectancy at birth), education (measured by adult literacy and combined primary, secondary, and tertiary enrolments), and living standard (measured by GDP per capita in purchasing power parity terms). Achievement in each area is measured by how far a country has gone in attaining the following goal: life expectancy of 85 years, adult literacy and enrolments of 100 percent, and real GDP per capita of $40,000 in purchasing power parity terms.

National human development reports provides a tool for analysis, reflecting people‘s priorities, strengthening national capacities, engaging national partners, identifying inequities and measuring progress at country level. The basic objectives of NHDRs are to raise public awareness and trigger action on critical human development concerns, strengthen national statistical and analytic capacity to assess and promote people-centred development; and shape policies and programmes by providing options and broad recommendations based on concrete analysis. It would be important in future, for counties to measure their development by calculating and using the specific Human Development Index (HDI) and Gender Development Index (GII).

Human Development Index

One of the main objectives under the Kenya‘s economic blue print, Vision 2030, is to provide a high quality of life for all Kenyans. Various human development indices will be applied to measure the broad level of social economic wellbeing. These indices uses three basic dimensions namely education, health and income.

The HDI emphasizes that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country and not economic growth alone since two countries/regions with the same level of GNI per capita can end up with such different human development outcomes.

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 in Article 27 recognizes that measures should be put in place to encourage affirmative action programmes and policies to address past inequalities. Economic and social rights to all are also recognized in Article 43. These include the right to health care services, adequate housing, and sanitation, adequate food of acceptable quality, clean and safe water and appropriate social security to vulnerable groups in the society. The 6th Kenya Human Development Report of 2009, Introduced a new measure for youth development in Kenya, the Youth Development Index (YDI). The index was at 0.5817 nationally but also depicted variations across the regions. The index is a composite of education, income and survivorship (health) dimensions. Therefore, it is critical to look at youth as a resource and a potential wealth for a nation. However, a large group of youths are potentially at risk of engaging in harmful anti-social behaviours, including risky sexual behaviour, substance use, and crime.

The constitution requires measures to be undertaken to ensure the youth access relevant education and training, have opportunities to participate in political, social, economic activities, and access to employment as well as protection from harmful cultural practices.

The Gender Inequality Index (GII)

It reflects gender-based disadvantage in three dimensions—reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market. The index shows the loss in potential human development due to inequality between female and male achievements in these dimensions. It varies between 0—when women and men fare equally—and 1, where one gender fares as poorly as possible in all measured dimensions. Kenya has an overall GII of 0.651(Draft 7th Human Development Report). This is however, not equal everywhere as there are regional disparities with counties located in Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALS) having high Gender Inequality Indices. In addition, there are certain groups which are more likely to experience poverty. These vulnerable groups include children living in poor households, the disabled and the youth. Improving equity in gender issues and reducing gender disparities will benefit all sectors and thus contribute to sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction and social injustices.

University of Nairobi University of Nairobi

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