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Economist Intelligence Study: Harare World's Worst City To Live In

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By Angus Shaw -- The Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe — A top research group on Thursday rated Zimbabwe's capital as the worst of 140 world cities in which to live.

The British-based Economist Intelligence Unit said its researchers excluded cities in Libya, Iraq and other war zones.

Harare, where power and water outages occur daily, scored a 38 percent "livability rating," the group said.

The group said the threat of civil unrest and the availability of public health care and public transport in Harare were intolerable. Energy and water supplies were undesirable, it said, calling phones and Internet services uncomfortable.

Zimbabwe formed a shaky coalition government in 2009 after years of political violence and economic meltdown. Melbourne and Vienna were rated the two easiest cities to live in.

The research group is a respected economic and risk consultancy linked to the Economist magazine.

The annual global cities survey advises companies on the level of hardship employees face and recommends pay adjustments for those who move to cities where living conditions are particularly difficult, with "excessive physical hardship or a notably unhealthy environment."

A livability rating – compiled onsite in the cities by experts and statisticians – given as 80 to 100 percent means there are few challenges to daily living standards such as housing, health, education and transportation. Fifty percent or less means most aspects of living are "severely restricted," the group said.

Harare's rating highlighted continuing "bleak prospects" for the capital's population of nearly two million, the survey said. It said quality housing was available for only the wealthy, and that quality private education was available in the city, but it is costly and takes good teachers away from Harare's impoverished government schools.

Cities across sub-Saharan Africa had an average livability rating of 50 percent, compared to 92 percent in Western Europe and 91 percent in North America.

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