Rwanda President Paul Kagame.

Citizens of Burundi and Rwanda, alongside six other African countries are at the tail end of happiness, a report that ranks Uganda as third ‘happiest’ country in East Africa, has indicated.

The report released in Rome today ahead of the UN Happiness Day on March 20, was prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

The report indicates that the bottom 10 least happy places on earth to live were in Madagascar, Tanzania, Liberia, Guinea, Rwanda, Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria and Burundi.

LEADING THE MOST UNHAPPY PEOPLE IN THE WORLD: Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza
LEADING THE MOST UNHAPPY PEOPLE IN THE WORLD: Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza

Meanwhile, this year Denmark has overtaken Switzerland as the world’s happiest place, according to the report that urged nations regardless of wealth to tackle inequality and protect the environment.

The top 10 this year were Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden. Denmark was in third place last year, behind Switzerland and Iceland. The United States came in at 13, the United Kingdom at 23, France at 32, and Italy at 50.

“There is a very strong message for my country, the United States, which is very rich, has gotten a lot richer over the last 50 years, but has gotten no happier,” said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the head of the SDSN and special advisor to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

While the differences between countries where people are happy and those where they are not could be scientifically measured, “we can understand why and do something about it,” Sachs, one of the report’s authors, said in Rome.

“The message for the United States is clear. For a society that just chases money, we are chasing the wrong things. Our social fabric is deteriorating, social trust is deteriorating, faith in government is deteriorating,” he said.

Aiming to “survey the scientific underpinnings of measuring and understanding subjective well-being,” the report, now in its fourth edition, ranks 157 countries by happiness levels using factors such as per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and healthy years of life expectancy.

It also rates “having someone to count on in times of trouble” and freedom from corruption in government and business.

“When countries single-mindedly pursue individual objectives, such as economic development to the neglect of social and environmental objectives, the results can be highly adverse for human wellbeing, even dangerous for survival,” it said.

“Many countries in recent years have achieved economic growth at the cost of sharply rising inequality, entrenched social exclusion, and grave damage to the natural environment.”