The United Nations Development Program ranks Zimbabwe dead last among 169 countries based on quality of life - this despite an increase in average life expectancy to 47 years from 37 just a few years ago.
The agency said poverty has risen above levels seen in the decade before independence in 1980.
The UNDP ranking is based on a so-called Human Development Index with variables such as access to health and education, gender inequalities, political freedom and poverty levels. Zimbabwe has ranked last on the list for the past five years. Just ahead it are Mozambique, Burundi, Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
All have been devastated by conflict, economic mismanagement and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, UNDP said.
There was no immediate government reaction on Zimbabwe’s latest ranking but critics said it accurately reflects the country’s socio-economic and political situation. Independent social worker Ellen Tagwirei told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that most Zimbabweans are failing to make ends meet.
Oil-rich Norway, with a life expectancy of 81 years and average annual income of US$58,810, tops the Human Development Index closely followed by Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Ireland.
The countries that have made the greatest progress in improving their human development index are China, Indonesia and South Korea. “They include others such as Nepal, Oman and Tunisia where progress in the non-income dimensions of human development has been equally remarkable,” said the UNDP report.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the top movers were Botswana, Benin and Burkina Faso. The report said the region has the highest incidence of multidimensional poverty reflecting acute deprivation in health, education and living standards.