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The world’s poorest people don’t always live where you’d expect

Poverty measures reported at the national level don’t provide a full picture of where the world’s poorest live. New research from the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford has revealed that nearly 60 per cent of people living in the world’s poorest regions are actually not in the least developed countries.

Measuring the different things that people are deprived of, researchers have identified sub-national regions of the world where the poorest people live. The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) reflects the combined simultaneous disadvantages poor people experience across different areas of their lives, including education, health and living standards. If people are deprived in at least one-third of ten weighted indicators, they are identified as multi-dimensionally poor. This poverty measure, MPI, complements income poverty measures.

Using the January 2015 updates of the MPI released today, the study team looked at more than 230 regions of countries where multidimensional poverty is at least as high as the 25 poorest Least Developed Countries (LDCs), identified by the United Nations (Economic and Social Council). They found that nearly 60 per cent of the 768 million multi-dimensionally poor people in these subnational regions live in countries that are not classified as LDCs, and all but one non-LDC region were in countries classed as middle-income: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Namibia and the Republic of Congo.

The findings show that pockets of deprivation are missed in aggregate statistics. For example, in Doula, the largest city in Cameroon, 6.7 per cent of people are multi-dimensionally poor; yet elsewhere in the same country, in the Extrême-Nord, nearly 87 per cent are measured as MPI-poor. The researchers say the striking disparity would be hidden if we only relied on the figure for the national average which shows that 46 per cent of the population in Cameroon are MPI-poor.

While Niger has the highest percentage of MPI-poor, with 89.3 per cent of its entire population found to be living in multidimensional poverty, using the same MPI measure the five poorest regions in the world are in Chad and Burkina Faso. The OPHI researchers found that the very poorest region of all the 803 regions studied is Salamat in Chad, where nearly 98 per cent of its 354,000 inhabitants are measured as multi-dimensionally poor.

Dr Sabina Alkire, Director of OPHI, said: ‘The MPI enables us to examine poverty within regions of a country as well as nationally, and compare the interlocking deprivations people experience. It can reveal experiences across rural and urban areas, and across different ethnic populations. We measure different types of deprivation together – such as malnutrition, poor sanitation, a lack of housing or schooling – and every person matters.’

‘Our findings highlight the value of having good quality, up-to-date and detailed survey data to reveal what life is really like for the poorest section of populations. I’m particularly glad that of the 30 low income countries covered, we can compare the MPI across regions within countries for all but one.’

The United Nations has stressed the need to identify where the poorest live in order to ‘leave no-one behind’. The researchers argue that the MPI is essential to accurately target   resources and policies where they are needed most.

The updated global Multidimensional Poverty Index now covers 110 developing countries, and 803 regions in 72 of these countries. The analysis is of data ranging from 2002 to 2014, mainly collected by UNICEF’s Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey and USAID’s Demographic and Health Survey. The MPI is published in UNDP’s Human Development Reports.

Download OPHI’s briefing paper on the latest global MPI results

‘High visibility: How disaggregated metrics help to reduce multidimensional poverty’ was published on 7 January 2015.

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Second chapter of OPHI book on multidimensional poverty measurement now available

The second chapter of OPHI’s forthcoming book, ‘Multidimensional Poverty Measurement and Analysis’, is now available to download as a working paper.

The book provides an in-depth account of multidimensional poverty measurement, with a particular focus on the Alkire Foster method. It is aimed at graduate students in quantitative social sciences, researchers of poverty measurement, and technical staff in governments and international agencies.

Chapter two introduces the notation and basic concepts that are used to discuss multidimensional poverty. The chapter presents a review of unidimensional poverty measurement with particular attention to the well-known Foster-Greer-Thorbecke measures of income poverty. The authors define the issue of indicators’ scales of measurement, and also address issues of comparability across people and dimensions. The final section of the chapter explains different properties that have been proposed in axiomatic approaches to multidimensional poverty measurement, which enable the analyst to understand the ethical principles embodied in a measure.

‘Multidimensional Poverty Measurement & Analysis’, by Sabina Alkire, James Foster, Suman Seth, Maria Emma Santos, José  Manuel Roche and Paola Ballon, will be published in hardcopy in June 2015 and can be pre-ordered from Oxford University Press.

Read chapter two

Chapter two is available to download as an OPHI working paper and will be published online in January 2015.

Further information

Chapter one of the book has been published online and is also available to download as an OPHI working paper.

Electronic versions of the chapters will be made available on the book website ahead of hardcopy publication, along with related study and teaching resources.

Find out more about the book.

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Iraqi Human Development Report presents multidimensional poverty index as tool for youth empowerment

Income, female education and job security have been identified as crucial to youth empowerment in Iraq in a new report by the Iraqi government and UNDP Iraq, which presents a national Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).

Jointly with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Haidar Al-Abadi and Minister of Planning Dr. Salman Al-Jumaily  launched the National Human Development Report  2014 under the theme ‘Iraqi Youth: Challenges and Opportunities’ in Baghdad in December 2014. The National Human Development Report focuses on opportunities and challenges related to youth development in line with the focus on youth empowerment set in the Iraqi government’s  National Development Plan 2013–2017.

The report presents an MPI for Iraq which is comprised of five dimensions in line with the priorities of the National Development Plan: education (4 indicators), basic services (4 indicators), nutrition and health (4 indicators), standard of living (3 indicators), and employment (6 indicators).  The dimensions were given equal weight and families were identified as multidimensionally poor if they were deprived in at least 33 percent of the indicators. The report estimates results based on the Iraq Knowledge Network Survey of 2011 and finds that 13.3 percent of Iraq’s population is multidimensionally poor.

Multidimensional poverty varies greatly from one Iraqi governorate to another. About 30 percent of the population in the governorates of Maysan and Wasit suffer from multidimensional poverty, compared to 4.3 percent in Baghdad and 1.4 percent in Sulaymaniya. The results also show the dimensions most responsible for multidimensional poverty. Income accounts for 17 percent of the total deprivation score, followed by female primary education at 9 percent and insecure employment. The report recommends that these results should be used to indicate priorities for social policies that will benefit the youth.

The report provides the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to both the youth and the government of Iraq as a tool for the monitoring, observation, follow-up, and advocacy of policies centered on the youth.

Further information

Read the full report: ‘UNDP Iraq Human Development Report 2014: Iraqi Youth, Challenges and Opportunities.’

Read about Iraq’s work as part on multidimensional poverty as part of the international high-level Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN).

Read about other national multidimensional poverty indices and the Alkire-Foster method on which these indices are based.


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Read online: First chapter of OPHI book on multidimensional poverty measurement now available

The first chapter of OPHI’s forthcoming book, ‘Multidimensional Poverty Measurement and Analysis’, is now available to read online  and download as a working paper.

The book provides an in-depth account of multidimensional poverty measurement, with a particular focus on the Alkire Foster method. It is aimed at graduate students in quantitative social sciences, researchers of poverty measurement, and technical staff in governments and international agencies.

Chapter one presents the motivations for a multidimensional approach to poverty measurement. It argues that poverty measures should not focus solely on income, as this overlooks people that experience other forms of deprivation, such as a lack of education or employment, inadequate housing, or poor health and nutrition. By presenting a vivid picture of how and where people are poor, within and across countries and regions, multidimensional poverty measures can help policymakers target resources at those most in need. The chapter ends with a discussion of how the Alkire Foster method can be used to measure multidimensional poverty.

‘Multidimensional Poverty Measurement & Analysis’, by Sabina Alkire, James Foster, Suman Seth, Maria Emma Santos, José  Manuel Roche and Paola Ballon, will be published in hardcopy in June 2015 and can be pre-ordered from Oxford University Press.

Electronic versions of the chapters will be made available on the book website ahead of hardcopy publication, along with related study and teaching resources. Find out more about the book.

Read chapter one

Chapter one is published online and is also available to download as an OPHI working paper.

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Article by OPHI’s Alkire and Santos makes list of top Social Indicators Research downloads

Sabina Alkire and Maria Emma Santos’s paper ‘A Multidimensional Approach: Poverty Measurement & Beyond’  is among the top most downloaded documents published in 2013 and 2014 in the Social Indicators Research  journal.

Published in May 2013, the article is an introduction to a special issue of Social Indicators Research on multidimensional poverty. It outlines the Alkire-Foster (AF) method and highlights its advantages and limitations, as well as presenting other multidimensional poverty measures to which the AF method is compared in some papers.

The special issue comprises a set of nine papers that have applied the AF methodology. Their preliminary versions were presented at an OPHI workshop in June 2009 on “Multidimensional Measures in Six Contexts”.

Read the full paper

‘A Multidimensional Approach: Poverty Measurement & Beyond’, by Sabina Alkire and Maria Emma Santos, was published in a special issue of Social Indicators Research in February 2013.

Further information

Find out more about OPHI’s Alkire-Foster method of multidimensional poverty measurement.

See how the AF method has been applied by different countries in the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN).

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Chile to publish national Multidimensional Poverty Index

The Chilean government have announced that they plan to launch a national Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in 2015.  Ahead of the launch, the country’s national press is leading a discussion of multidimensional poverty measurement, and interviews with both Sabina Alkire and James Foster have been published in major newspapers.

Interest was sparked through last week’s seminar organised by the Ministry for Social Development and the Centre for the Study of Conflict and Social Cohesion (COES), at which Sabina Alkire and James Foster spoke.  At the seminar the Chilean Under-Secretary for Social Development, Heidi Berner, announced that a Multidimensional Poverty Index will be released in addition to the 2013 National Socioeconomic Survey (CASEN) findings, which are also due to be published early next year.  The 2011 CASEN showed 14.4% of the population was income poor but included questions on education, health, housing and labour that have since been used to inform the MPI calculation.

The consultation process for the new Index was initiated during President Bachelet’s previous term in office.  The intervening administration established a presidential commission, before the new government’s work in finalising and publishing the Index – all an excellent indicator of the measure’s ability to survive political change.

Read interviews with Sabina Alkire and James Foster (in Spanish) published in Estrategia and El Mercurio.

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New OPHI research shows overall poverty reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa, but reveals significant country differences

Multidimensional poverty has decreased in many Sub-Saharan African countries over recent years, with most progress seen in East Africa, a new OPHI working paper has shown.

However, the analysis by OPHI researchers has shattered any depiction of African poverty as uniform and revealed a broad range of levels and trends of deprivation within countries, providing information that highlights policy priorities for national governments.

The working paper gives an overview of multidimensional poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) using the results from the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2014. The global MPI 2014 covers 37 SSA countries, which are home to 91 per cent of the population of the region.

Results show that of the 19 SSA countries for which OPHI has data across different years, 17 had statistically significant reductions in multidimensional poverty. Rwanda led the way with the fastest absolute decrease in MPI. 82.9 per cent of its population were multidimensionally poor in 2005 but this fell to 66.1 per cent in 2010. Ghana and Tanzania were close behind, with Uganda, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Niger also seeing significant reductions in MPI. The countries that reduced MPI most in absolute terms were predominantly Eastern Africa countries, Low Income Countries (LICs) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

A range of countries, including Nigeria, Lesotho, Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Gabon and Cameroon, had slower but still significant reductions in poverty. Senegal had no statistically significant reduction in poverty, and Madagascar had a statistically significant increase.

The country with the highest percentage of MPI poor people is Niger. Niger has the highest level of destitution in Africa, with 68.8 per cent of the population living in destitution. Ethiopia and Burkino Faso also have very high levels – 58.1 per cent and 57.5 per cent, respectively. In stark contrast, the proportion of the population who are destitute is 5.5 per cent in Swaziland, 3.2 per cent in Gabon and merely 1 per cent in South Africa.

The highest levels of inequality are also found in SSA countries. Out of the 90 countries analyzed, the greatest inequality among the poor was in Burkina Faso. Of the 462 million people identified as MPI poor in SSA, 85.8 per cent live in rural areas.

The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) was developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). It was launched in 2010 and has been reported in UNDP’s Human Development Reports.

Read the full paper

‘Multidimensional Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: Levels and Trends’, by Sabina Alkire and Bouba Housseini, was published in the OPHI working paper series in December 2014.

Find out more about OPHI’s findings for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa

Download individual country briefings for Sub-Saharan countries to see national and sub-national poverty profiles.

View graphs and maps for different poverty indicators at OPHI’s interactive databank.

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New York Times article compares OPHI poverty figures with World Bank’s poverty line

The New York Times has quoted the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2014 in an article on the progress against poverty. The article by Anna Bernasek references the Global MPI 2014 calculations that put the number of multidimensionally poor people in the world at 1.6 billion. This in contrast to the World Bank’s $1.25 a day income-based estimation that has found 1 billion people to be in poverty worldwide.

The article states that although varying definitions of extreme poverty present measurement challenges, ‘still, there is agreement that extreme poverty has been on the decline since the mid-1990s and that the decline has accelerated since 2000.’

The Global MPI was calculated for 108 countries by OPHI in June 2014. Of the 1.6 billion people identified as multidimensionally poor, most live in South Asia (52%), followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (29%). The majority of MPI poor people (71%) live in Middle Income Countries. The calculations also revealed that nearly all countries that reduced MPI poverty also reduced inequality among the poor. Of 34 countries for which were studied for changes over time, 30 – covering 98% of the poor people across all 34 – significantly reduced multidimensional poverty.

Further information

Read the full article published by The New York Times: A Global Gauge Finds Progress Against Poverty.

Click on the graphs button (top right corner) to see a comparison of the poverty figures for Global MPI 2014 and $1.25 a day on OPHI’s interactive databank.

Find out more about the Global MPI 2014

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Ho Chi Minh takes lead in piloting a new multidimensional poverty measure in Vietnam

In the lead up to launching a pilot city Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) , Ho Chi Minh City and the Vietnamese Government hosted OPHI co-founder John Hammock and OPHI researcher Mihika Chatterjee at a seminar on multidimensional poverty on 16 December.

The seminar on Multidimensional Poverty Measurement in Ho Chi Minh City was jointly hosted by the City’s Steering Committee for Poverty Reduction and Improved Household Livelihoods and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Discussions in the seminar focused on plans to implement multidimensional poverty measures in the City and useful lessons for the process of developing a national multidimensional measure. With the UN support, Vietnam is among the 32 countries in the world to pioneer the research and application of multidimensional poverty measures. The seminar  highlighted the value-added offered by multidimensional poverty methods to the governance and delivery of public services.

Hammock spoke on the application of multidimensional poverty measures by various members of the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN), of which Vietnam is a member. Chatterjee, who has been working with the Government and the UNDP over the last months on a measure for Ho Chi Minh City, presented preliminary results brought together in three published reports. The city government reiterated its strong intention of implementing a multidimensional poverty program in 2015 while representatives of the national government expressed their intention of adopting a multidimensional poverty measure in Vietnam’s next 5 year plan.

“Multidimensional poverty approaches have achieved global traction by providing a robust alternative to – and complement – income-based measures,” said UNDP Deputy Country Director Bakhodir Burkhanov at the seminar. “They are particularly applicable in Middle Income Countries like Vietnam and in such urban context as Ho Chi Minh City, where poverty is more complex and defined by a number of interlocking deprivations.”

Mr Burkhanov praised Ho Chi Minh City’s use of multi-dimensional poverty as  a pioneering effort. “There are enormous opportunities for the City’s work to further inform the national process, and to provide a template for replication elsewhere in Vietnam,” he said.

Further information

Download the joint press release from Ho Chi Minh City and the UNDP Vietnam issued at the event.

Find out more about Vietnam’s work as part of the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN).

Read the full speech made by UNDP Deputy Country Director Bakhodir Burkhanov on multidimensional poverty: Remarks by Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Deputy Country Director at the seminar on multidimensional poverty measurement in Ho Chi Minh city

Find out more about the Global MPI 2014

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Identifying the Poorest People and Groups: Strategies using the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index

A new OPHI working paper has compared three different approaches to identifying where the poorest billion people in the world live.

Looking at data from household surveys across more than a hundred countries, the researchers used an internationally comparable multidimensional poverty index (MPI) to identify:

  • the poorest billion people living in the poorest countries in the world;
  • the poorest billion people in the poorest subnational regions; and
  • the poorest billion according to the intensity of their deprivations.

Although there were commonalities across these three approaches, they produced notably different results that are relevant to discussions of the sustainable development goals.

Read the full paper

Identifying the Poorest People and Groups: Strategies using the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index’, by Sabina Alkire, José Manuel Roche, Suman Seth and Andy Sumner, was published in the OPHI working paper series in November 2014.

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Secretary-General’s post-2015 synthesis report calls for multi-dimensional poverty measures

The UN Secretary-General’s global synthesis report on the post-2015 development agenda highlights the need for poverty measures that reflect the multiple deprivations experienced by the poor.

OPHI welcomes the acknowledgement of the multidimensionality of poverty and calls for the post-2015 implementation of a headline Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) that shows the level of poverty as well as:

  • How people are poor (what disadvantages they experience at the same time)
  • Which regions or ethnic groups they belong to
  • The intensity of deprivations experienced by those living in poverty.

The MPI 2015+ would complement the $1.25 a day income measure to ensure that the many overlapping disadvantages faced by the poor, including malnutrition, poor sanitation, and lack of education, are not overlooked.  Like the $1.25/day, the MPI 2015+ would be comparable across countries. The methodology could also be adapted to create national MPIs with different poverty indicators, cut-offs and values that reflect the priorities within each country.

The Secretary-General’s report states that developing alternative measures of progress, beyond GDP, must receive the dedicated attention of the UN, international financial institutions, the scientific community, and public institutions, and OPHI draws attention to Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index as one such measure.

The report acknowledges that contributions to the post-2015 agenda have underlined the need to fill key sustainable development gaps left by the Millennium Development Goals, including the multi-dimensional aspects of poverty, as described above.

The Secretary-General also emphasises that concessionality levels of aid loans should take into account different development stages, circumstances and multiple dimensions of poverty.

The report synthesises the full range of inputs that have been made to the post-2015 development agenda. It will contribute to intergovernmental negotiations before the agenda is launched by the UN in September 2015.

Read more about OPHI’s work on multidimensional poverty.

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Inequality measure needed to ensure poverty reduction reaches the poorest, OPHI research paper suggests

Poverty measures should be supported by a separate assessment of inequality among the poor, new research published by OPHI has argued.

The authors emphasise that policy initiatives designed to reduce only the incidence of poverty can too often overlook the poorest of the poor, instead focusing on lifting the marginally poor out of poverty. They argue that monitoring inequality among poor people is crucial for ensuring that those furthest from the poverty line or cut-off benefit equally from resources.

The paper proposes a new inequality measure, designed to capture the variety of deprivations that poor people experience across different areas of their lives. The measure is applied to data from Haiti and India to shed valuable light on the equality of poverty reduction in each country.

Although multidimensional poverty went down over time in both countries by a statistically significant amount, there were some key contrasts between the two. In Haiti, the findings show that poverty reduction between 2006 and 2012 was relatively greatest among the poorest of the poor. This led to a decrease in inequality between poor people both on a national scale and within sub-national regions. However, in India, data from 1999 to 2006 reveals a much smaller relative reduction in poverty among the poorest poor, resulting in only a modest decrease of inequality between poor populations.

Read the full paper

‘Did Poverty Reduction Reach the Poorest of the Poor? Assessment Methods in the Counting Approach’, by Suman Seth and Sabina Alkire, was published in the OPHI working paper series in November 2014.

Find out more about OPHI’s work on inequality

Read a briefing paper on inequality among the poor, based on findings from the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2014.

Download OPHI Working Paper 23, on inequality and human development.

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Reducing social isolation can help fight poverty, OPHI research paper suggests

Social isolation of the poor should be addressed in poverty measurement and analysis, a new working paper published by OPHI has argued.

The authors of the paper, from OPHI and the University of Sheffield, emphasise that while most governments and policymakers define poverty by income, poor people consider their experience of poverty to be much broader, including lack of education, health, housing, employment and security. In particular, they argue that social isolation is often overlooked by poverty data and measures, yet is central to the experiences of the poor.

The paper presents three case studies from field research to illustrate how the ties poor people have to their friends, families and community play a significant role both in their experiences of poverty and, crucially, in their ability to escape it.

In South Africa and Mozambique, interviews and focus groups were carried out with vulnerable populations. A number of the participants expressed the belief that social connections were important to their lives and suggested that not having someone to share problems with is a deprivation in itself. A respondent from Mozambique said: ‘Whenever people are around you, whatever is eating inside you will become better because you are surrounded by people, as you are talking you will be able to talk out whatever is bothering you inside’.

Similarly, another participant stated: ‘Being poor means not having anyone to care for you, for example an orphan child ends up becoming poor because of lacking those relationships that would result into a support to him/her’.

The researchers note that isolation seems to work in two directions – people may be excluded by others because they are poor, or they may isolate themselves and not participate in a community in order to avoid the shame of being seen by others as poor.

The second case study focuses on the impact of isolation on indigenous populations. Looking at data on the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, the researchers argue that the historical forced relocation and social isolation of this group has contributed to their continued experience of poverty in many dimensions, including inadequate housing, lack of access to healthcare, and inferior educational opportunities compared to the rest of the country.

In the final case study, the researchers explore how people with disabilities experience profound stigma and isolation and argue that their access to essential services may be limited, jeopardising their health and wellbeing. An interviewee from Soweto, South Africa highlighted the link between isolation and disabilities, saying: ‘I think people are still hiding their children…the parents are ashamed, they think they did something bad that is why God gave them the children like that…or that they deserve it…Most people in the community look at the disability and not the child’.

The case study also looks at the work of Special Olympics International to highlight how sports programmes have given individuals with disabilities the opportunity to connect with a wider community.

The researchers stress the need to gather information on the ‘missing dimensions’ of poverty, which are overlooked in internationally comparable datasets. They call for improved data on areas such as violence, disempowerment, shame, humiliation and isolation in order to track, analyse and reduce the multiple disadvantages experienced by those living in poverty.

Read the full paper

‘Social Isolation and its Relationship to Multidimensional Poverty’, by Kim Samuel, Sabina Alkire, John Hammock, China Mills and Diego Zavaleta, was published in the OPHI working paper series in November 2014.

Find out more about OPHI’s work on social isolation and the missing dimensions of poverty. You can also view a video of OPHI director Sabina Alkire in a panel discussion on social connectedness.

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Nigerian newspaper This Day Live publishes article on Global MPI 2014

The Nigerian newspaper This Day Live has published an article on the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2014. The Global MPI briefing for Nigeria was referenced by former minister of the National Planning Commission Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, who delivered a keynote address in Abuja at the 25th anniversary lecture of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation. Usman noted that policymakers need to empathise and have a feel of what poverty really is in order to design effective alleviation programmes.

The Global MPI, calculated by OPHI in June 2014, revealed that 43.3 per cent of the Nigerian population are multidimensionally poor, including 25.3 per cent who live in severe poverty. A further 19.3 per cent of the population are vulnerable to poverty. The findings also showed that 57.5% of those living in rural areas are multidimensionally poor.

Nigeria is a member of the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN). Read more about Nigeria’s participation in the MPPN.

Further information

Read the full article published by This Day Live: ‘New Oxford Report Puts Nigeria’s Poverty rate at 43.3%’.

Find out more about the Global MPI 2014 and findings for Nigeria.


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OPHI’s Sabina Alkire appointed to professorship at George Washington University

OPHI is delighted to announce that Dr Sabina Alkire will be the inaugural holder of the Oliver T. Carr, Jr. professorship at the Elliott School of International Affairs as well as Professor of Economics, and of International Affairs, George Washington University (GWU). She will take up this post in January 2015 and for the next 20 months will hold a joint appointment at Oxford University, where she will continue as director of OPHI.

For the past several years, Dr Alkire has been working in partnership with Professor James Foster of GWU on multidimensional poverty measurement. Most notably, they developed the Alkire Foster Method for measuring multidimensional poverty, which has generated considerable international interest among both researchers and policymakers. Dr Alkire’s appointment at GWU is seen as heralding an ongoing collaboration.

Dr Alkire said: “I am honoured to accept the professorship at George Washington University and join the leading Elliott School of International Affairs. I look forward to working closely with colleagues at GWU and welcome the opportunity to build on OPHI’s accomplishments in the field of multidimensional poverty measurement and analysis.”

Dr Alkire has been the director of OPHI since it was founded in 2006.

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Nepal and Tajikistan join the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN)

Nepal and Tajikistan are the latest countries to have joined the global Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN), of which OPHI acts as the Secretariat. The global MPPN is a South-South initiative that supports policymakers to develop multidimensional poverty measures. It has a membership of 32 countries and 10 international organizations and agencies.

The government of Tajikistan is exploring the possibility of developing a multidimensional poverty measure and a representative of its Ministry of Economic Development and Trade participated in the OPHI summer school on multidimensional poverty analysis this past August in Oxford.  OPHI’s John Hammock will also travel to Tajikistan to meet government officials and to attend a conference in Dushanbe on 12 December 2014 to discuss multidimensional poverty measurement and policy.

The MPPN  was created in response to the overwhelming demand from policymakers for information on implementing multidimensional measures, and for technical and institutional support. The network was formally launched in Oxford on 6-7 June 2013, by President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Professor Amartya Sen and high-level representatives from 22 governments. It is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), OPHI, and by network participants themselves.

Find out more about the work of the MPPN and its members.

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Review by OPHI researcher highlights need to expand the Indian food security safety net

The Indian Public Distribution System (PDS) – a food security safety net programme – should be expanded to include more multidimensionally poor households, a new paper  by OPHI’s Mihika Chatterjee has suggested.

Her research examines the performance of the PDS among 793 households in the district of Koraput, Odisha. The system aims to provide India’s poor with subsidised goods such as wheat, rice, kerosene and sugar.

The findings indicate that the PDS is functioning well in many areas of Koraput, with rice supplied regularly and approximately 69 per cent of women and 70 per cent of men reporting high levels of satisfaction with the scheme overall.

However, the research shows that a substantial proportion of vulnerable people in Koraput are excluded from the PDS, as they are not considered deprived by official measures. More than a third (37%) of multidimensionally poor households do not receive PDS benefits, yet they reported higher levels of food insecurity than those who do, including having to eat small meals and experiencing greater anxiety about running out of food.

Among these households, material deprivation and vulnerability is widespread. Fifty-eight per cent have at least one underweight child, while more than a third (36%) have a mother who is malnourished. More than half (53%) of the excluded households have no assets, including no mobile phone.

Chatterjee notes that these findings support the need to widen coverage of the PDS. She also suggests several other improvements to the programme, including increasing the availability of non-grain items like sugar and kerosene, and making recipients more aware of the benefits they are entitled to.

Read the full paper

An Improved PDS in a ‘Reviving’ State: Food Security in Koraput, Odisha’, by Mihika Chatterjee, was published in the Indian journal ‘Economic & Political Weekly’ on 8 November 2014.

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Free webinar on multidimensional poverty analysis: 19 November 2014

STRIVE, a research consortium investigating the social norms and inequalities that drive HIV,  hosted a free webinar on multidimensional poverty analysis on Wednesday 19 November 2014, 2.30pm GMT. Sabina Alkire, Director of OPHI, presented overall results from the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2014, as well as highlights from related studies. You can view a video of the webinar here

Using new datasets, the Global MPI has been updated for 31 countries in 2014, and calculated for two new countries. In total, it now covers 108 countries with data from 2002-2013, including 57 countries with data for 2009-2013.

Recent analyses of multidimensional poverty across these countries have covered a number of topics, including:

Further information

Read more about STRIVE’s work.

View infographics and resources on the Global MPI 2014.

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Now available: Podcast and presentation from special guest lecture on state capability

Michael Woolcock, Lead Social Development Specialist in the World Bank’s Development Research Group and Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, delivered a presentation on ‘The Art, the (Social) Science and the Politics of Building State Capability for Implementation’ as part of OPHI’s lunchtime seminar series.

The talk, on 4 November 2014, addressed an apparent paradox between development indicators that seem to be improving and measures of institutional quality that are flat or declining. It also explored the challenge of implementing policies in developing countries as opposed to just designing them, and outlined an alternative strategy for building state capacity for implementation.

The lecture was based on the paper ‘Looking like a state: Techniques of persistent failure in state capability for implementation‘, which won the 2014 ‘Best Article’ prize from the American Sociological Association’s section on international development.

Listen to a podcast of the special guest lecture and view the slides.

Find out more about upcoming OPHI lunchtime seminars.

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UNDP Ministerial Forum in Mexico focuses on Multidimensional Progress and its measurement

The seventh Ministerial Forum on Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, held on 30-31 October 2014 in Mexico City, focused on Multidimensional Progress in the region. The event included ministers from more than 30 Latin American and Caribbean countries who had come together to discuss an agenda for social and economic development. The vice-presidents of Uruguay and the Dominican Republic were among the participants.

In the keynote addresses, OPHI’s Sabina Alkire illustrated how national multidimensional poverty measures can be used as tools for policies; Gonzalo Hernandez Licona from the Mexican National Council for Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL) shared Mexico’s experience in using its multidimensional measure for policy; and Alicia Barcena from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) analysed the macroeconomic context and the need for policy innovation.

In a roundtable chaired by Enrique González Tiburcio of the Ministry of Social Development of the Government of Mexico (SEDESOL), ministers from Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela shared their experiences in using multidimensional tools for policy, reporting back to the plenary.

Substantive presentations were also made by senior dignitaries including:

• Helen Clark, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
• José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mexico
• Rosario Robles, Ministry of Social Development of the Government of Mexico (SEDESOL)
• Gonzalo Robles, Spanish Cooperation
• Jessica Faieta, UNDP
• George Gray, UNDP

The Ministerial Forum is a meeting organised annually by the UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, with support from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation. The forum aims to enable decision-makers to share experiences of social policies and address challenges in the region. This year’s forum will feed into a regional UNDP Human Development Report profiling multidimensional metrics and their use to spur social and economic progress.

This is the first year that the Ministerial Forum has taken place in Mexico. It was hosted by SEDESOL, which has used Mexico’s multidimensional poverty measure proactively, for example in the Crusade Against Hunger.

Download Sabina Alkire’s presentation: ‘Multidimensional progress in low and middle income countries

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