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Jakarta Post article highlights how income poverty is only part of the story

An opinion piece in the Jakarta Post has called for a multidimensional measure of poverty to complement Indonesia’s national monetary-based poverty line.

The article, by Abdurrahman Syebubakar from Jakarta-based thinktank the Institute for Democracy Education, stresses that Indonesia has “made good progress in reducing extreme and absolute poverty”.  And yet, it concludes that measuring income poverty alone does not reflect the other many overlapping disadvantages often experienced by the poor, such as malnutrition, poor sanitation or limited access to schooling.

Syebubakar argues that a national multidimensional poverty index (MPI), covering the dimensions of education, health and living standards, would not only measure the incidence and intensity of poverty but also reveal how people are poor.

He says: “The MPI can be utilised by governments at all levels to sharpen policy and program formulation so that the many different aspects of poverty are reduced and the multiple needs of the poor and vulnerable are better met.”

Read the full article

‘Income poverty is only part of the story’, by Abdurrahman Syebubakar, was published in the Jakarta Post on 14 October 2014.

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Huffington Post publishes article on social isolation by OPHI Scholar in Residence, Kim Samuel

The Huffington Post has published an article by OPHI Scholar in Residence Kim Samuel titled ‘The Youngest Victims: Combating the Social Isolation of Ebola Orphans’, in which she presses for the global community to treat the outbreak of Ebola as not only a public health crisis but also a humanitarian crisis.

In the post, Samuel cautions against ignoring the emotional health of children affected by Ebola and highlights the social isolation they can face. She writes: ‘For younger children, the reality of being orphaned by Ebola is even worse. With no means to provide for themselves, they are dependent on adult care — yet even relatives are often too afraid to take them in. Children tell of being chased away by family, even though they’ve tested negative for the virus.’

Further information

Read the full article in the Huffington Post, published on 21 October 2014.

Find out more about OPHI’s work on social isolation as part of its research on the Missing Dimensions of Poverty.

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OPHI’s Sabina Alkire and John Hammock participate in symposium on isolation and social connectedness

OPHI Director, Sabina Alkire and OPHI Co-founder John Hammock participated in a Symposium on Overcoming Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness, in Toronto, Canada.  Kim Samuel, a Scholar in Residence at OPHI was one of the organizers of the Symposium with the strong support of the Synergos Institute, TakingITGlobal and the Samuel Family Foundation. In its research OPHI has identified Social Connectedness as a Missing Dimension of poverty that is often overlooked and left unmeasured. The Symposium was held at Evergreen Brick Works, a community environmental centre in Toronto, Canada. The Symposium brought together an unusual mix of participants, ranging from representatives of NGOs and social inclusion groups working in Africa to private philanthropists as well as participants with learning disabilities to academics and representatives of the First Nations of Canada.

The Symposium focused three key themes: tracing linkages between social isolation and poverty, learning from stories of community resilience, and fostering a sense of belonging and reciprocity.  Sabina Alkire participated as a discussant in the conversation on the link betwee isolation and poverty. The Symposium heard a wide variety of participants on their experiences of isolation—and provided opportunities to hear the voices of young people, First Nation representatives and African leaders working in this area. The Symposium gave special focus to the role of the arts as a medium for giving voice to images of isolation and connectedness.  Participants ended the Symposium with a commitment to the need for further policy advocacy and research, particularly applied research at the individual, community and national level.

You can read more about the Missing Dimensions of poverty here and see OPHI’s work on social isolation and shame and humiliation by clicking on the links provided.

You can also read OPHI Working Paper 67, Social Isolation: A conceptual and Measurement Proposal by clicking on the link.

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New OPHI briefing explores the composition of children in poor households

A new briefing note titled Are children among the poorest? by OPHI Researcher, Ana Vaz looks at how children are represented in households that are multidimensionally poor according to the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of 2014. The Global MPI is an index of acute multidimensional poverty that assesses the nature and intensity of poverty at the individual level, by directly measuring the overlapping deprivations poor people experience simultaneously.

Using a sample of countries for which Global MPI was recently updated in 2014, the briefing note compares the age structure of the population and the age structure of the poor. The analysis shows that countries with highest levels of MPI tend to have a higher proportion of children under 10 years old, and a lower share of adults across the population. Additionally the briefing shows that the gap between the share of adults and the share of children under 10 among

the poor tends to be smaller in poorer countries. Thus the briefing finds that in the all the countries analyzed, children are especially likely to be poor.
You can read the full 3-pager briefing note here.
You can see results of the Global MPI 2014 here and consult the data tables for the calculations here.

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OPHI and MPPN propose light but powerful survey modules in support of the data revolution

The Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN) and the Oxford Poverty Human Development Initiative (OPHI) have submitted the light but powerful household survey modules to the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on Data Revolution for Sustainable Development UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked the Independent Expert Advisory Group to make concrete recommendations on bringing about a data revolution in sustainable development. 

The MPPN and OPHI developed these survey modules in response to the widely agreed need for a ‘data revolution’ post-2015. Previous drafts were launched in November 2013 and April 2014, and revised following extensive discussion and input.

The MPPN Post-2015 survey modules proposed aims to provide data that are:

  • Frequent and accurate – to be able to track changes over time and inform policy;
  • Representative at large-scale – so they can be disaggregated to leave no one behind;
  • Multi-topic  so they take an integrated, balanced approach, and are used to break policy silos;
  • Gendered – so they can provide data on women and men, and some data on girls and boys;
  • Internationally comparable core module reflecting key poverty-related draft SDGs
  • Flexible: able to incorporate additional modules and questions that reflect national priorities, such as a shortened consumption-expenditure module; or governance and political voice; the environment; empowerment; or social capital or child poverty;

OPHI and the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN) propose these light survey modules to obtain frequent data from the same survey instrument on a subset of poverty-related SDGs. This thrice-revised survey modules reflects the technical, cultural, and political insights of MPPN members, and were deemed to be feasible and informative across a wide range of country contexts.

The household survey modules proposed could be used to collect data to underlie a new headline indicator of multidimensional poverty post-2015 – a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2015+, which could complement income poverty measures and show how the different dimensions of poverty interconnect and overlap.

You can read the proposed household survey modules in full HERE.

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Lunchtime Seminar Series for Michaelmas Term 2014 gets underway

OPHI’s lunchtime seminar series begins again on 13 October with ‘An Introduction to the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI)’, a talk by OPHI’s Director Sabina Alkire.

Seminars will be held every Monday (with the exception of a special guest lecture on 4 Novmber) at 1pm for eight weeks, and will cover multidimensional poverty measurement techniques and their application in contexts including Chile, India and EU-SILC countries. The term will also include a special lecture by Lead Social Development Specialist at the World Bank, Michael Woolcok on state capbilities.

The seminars are held from 1-2pm in Seminar Room 2, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TB. Everyone is welcome, and a complimentary sandwich lunch is available on a first come, first served basis.

For the full listings, please see the Seminar Series page on our website.

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New OPHI Research in Progress paper presents indices for Multidimensional Poverty for EU-SILC countries

A new OPHI Research in Progress paper titled “Multidimensional Poverty Measurement for EU-SILC Countries” by Alkire, S., Apablaza, M., and Jung, E. presents a set of experimental indices of multidimensional poverty, using EU-SILC data. The indices use the Alkire Foster (AF) methodology – a widely-used flexible methodology which can accommodate different indicators, weights and cut-offs.

The authors draw on existing EU-2020 indicators, as well as on indicators of health, education and lived environment. The time series data enable an analysis of multidimensional poverty dynamics, including analyses of changes in overall poverty and in indicators. All measures confirm that poverty decreased in average between 2006 and 2012 due to a strong reduction in the percentage of multidimensionally poor people. Results show that the poorest region is Southern Region of the continent followed by Eastern Europe. Results also show that the Northern area is consistently the least poor region regardless of the measure and cut-off.

You can read the full paper here. You can read more about other applications of the Alkire Foster method here.

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The Dominican Republic hosts discussion on Multidimensional Poverty

On 29 September, a group of ministers and key government leaders met to critically discuss and consider the benefits of a multidimensional poverty index in helping to form public policy and improve targeting of government resources. The discussion was hosted by the Vice President Dr Margarita Cedeño and accompanied by OPHI Director Sabina Alkire, who gave a distinguished lecture at the Presidential Palace on the same topic the same evening.  Both events are efforts by the government of the Dominican Republic to make known and spread support for a national Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).

Picture courtesy

During the visit, Alkire also met with the technical team that is working to design the national MPI, delving into the key issue of the choice of dimensions and indicators of poverty. OPHI wil provide technical assistance to the government’s efforts both to improve their data collection through an improved questionnaire and to develop the national MPI. You can read further about the lecture on the Vice President’s official website (in the Spanish language) here.

You can see coverage of Alkire’s visit in the Spanish language in the following media: DiarioDigitalRD, DomincaDigital.Net and Listin Diario.

The Dominican Republic is a member of the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN) that has proposed a new data collection tool in the development of a post-2015 multidimensional poverty measure. You can read more about the Network here and read the questionnaire here.

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Alkire-Foster method used to evaluate public health intervention in Mozambique

A new paper titled ‘Multidimensional Poverty in Rural Mozambique: A New Metric for Evaluating Public Health Interventions’ by Bart Victor and colleagues from the Vanderbilt University, World Vision International and Friends in Global Health, has used the Alkire-Foster method to evaluate public health interventions in Zambézia, Mozambique.

The paper has sought to demonstrate how multidimensional poverty measures can be utilized in the evaluation of public health interventions. Data for the paper were gathered by survey teams that interviewed a representative sample of 3,749 female heads of household across Zambézia in August-September 2010. The authors estimated a multidimensional poverty index (MPI) based on the Alkire-Foster method that enabled the measure to be disaggregated into context-specific indicators. The authors produced an MPI comprised of 3 dimensions and 11 weighted indicators selected from the survey. The results of the paper show that among the interviewees 58.2% of households were poor (29.3% of urban vs. 59.5% of rural). The dimension on living standard was the main contributor to overall deprivation, followed by health, and then education.

The paper thus shows that multidimensional poverty measurement can be integrated into program design for public health interventions. You can read a full version of the paper here.

You can read more about the Alkire-Foster measure and it’s various applications by clicking on the links.

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New OPHI Working Paper: Measuring Chronic Multidimensional Poverty

OPHI Working Paper No. 75, Measuring Chronic Multidimensional Poverty: A Counting Approach, by Alkire, Apablaza, Chakravarty, and Yalonetzky, looks at how indices of multidimensional poverty can be adapted to produce measures that quantify both the joint incidence of multiple deprivations and their chronicity. It adopts a new approach to the measurement of chronic multidimensional poverty: the counting approach of Alkire and Foster (2011) for the measurement of multidimensional poverty in each time period, and then the duration approach of Foster (2009) for the measurement of multidimensional poverty persistence across time. The Working Paper uses a Chilean panel dataset (1996-2006) to illustrate the utility of this new counting approach.

To access the paper, click here.

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Colombia hosts workshop on multidimensional poverty measurement for participants from Latin America

The Department for National Prosperity (DPS) of the Government of Colombia, the Inter-American Social Protection Network (IASPN), and OPHI co-organised a three-day workshop to explore Colombia’s experience with multidimensional poverty measurement and how it impacts social policy in the country.

OPHI Researcher Officers Gisela Robles Aguilar, Diego Zavaleta and Mauricio Apablaza participated in the workshop which was held in Bogota between September 17 – 19. It was attended by representatives of countries exploring national multidimensional poverty indices in the region, including Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The workshop included academic sessions on public policy applications of the index and statistical methods for calculating it, and a field visit to the town of Fusagasugá to visit families that have benefited from the ‘Red Unidos’ [United Network] social protection program. Beneficiaries of this program are identified and targeted through Colombia’s Multidimensional Poverty Index.

The objective of the workshop was for countries to share their experiences with other professional technicians and policy makers from Latin American countries regarding the construction of a multidimensional poverty index and the construction of a national application (based on the experience of Colombia).

You can see photographs taken during the event here , coverage on the Departamento para la Prosperidad Social (Department for Social Prosperity) website here and a short video clip here.

Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Uruguay and Organizacion de los Estados Americanos (OEA Organisation of the American States) are members of the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN). You can read more about the MPPN’s advocacy of a post-2015 multidimensional poverty measure at the 69th UN General Assembly session here. More information can be found (in Spanish) by clicking here and here.

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Outcomes Document from the Special Side-Event at the 69th UN General Assembly

At a high-profile side-event attended by approximately 300 people at the 69th UN General Assembly, senior leaders from eight governments and institutions called on the UN to adopt a new multidimensional poverty measure to support the eradication of poverty in all its forms in the post-2015 development agenda.

Together officials from nations as diverse as Mexico, China, South Africa, Colombia, Ecuador and the Seychelles proposed that the next round of global development targets – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – should incorporate a new Multidimensional Poverty Index (the MPI 2015+).

For the full Outcome Document, CLICK HERE

To watch the full recording of the meeting, CLICK HERE

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International workshop to explore Colombia’s Multidimensional Poverty Index and its policy applications

The Department for National Prosperity (DPS) of the Government of Colombia, the Inter-American Social Protection Network (IASPN), and OPHI co-organised a three-day workshop to explore Colombia’s experience with multidimensional poverty measurement and how it impacts social policy in the country. It was held in Bogota between September 17 – 19 and was attended by representatives of countries exploring national multidimensional poverty indices in the region, including Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The workshop included academic sessions on public policy applications of the index and statistical methods for calculating it, and a field visit to the town of Fusagasugá to visit families that have benefited from the ‘Red Unidos’ [United Network] social protection program. Beneficiaries of this program are identified and targeted through Colombia’s Multidimensional Poverty Index.

More information can be found (in Spanish) by clicking here and here.

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Alkire & Foster have most cited paper in Journal of Public Economics.

Alkire and Foster’s 2011 paper “Counting and Multidimensional Poverty Measurement” is posted by the Journal of Public Economics as their most cited article. The paper proposes a new methodology for multidimensional poverty measurement, and uses examples from the US and Indonesia to illustrate. 

To read the article, click here.

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High-Level Panel to Make the Case at the UN for a New Poverty Measure

As the UN General Assembly meets this week in special session to discuss post-2015 development goals, OPHI is involved in a high-level international panel  being brought together in UN Conference Room 1 on 25 September to showcase country experiences of a new, more comprehensive approach to tackling poverty in all its forms, not just income poverty. This is organised under the aegis of the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN) and is being hosted by the Governments of Mexico, Dominican Republic and Germany under the title “Universal Multidimensional Poverty Measurement for the Effective Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals”.  It will be addressed by the Mexican Foreign Secretary among other distinguished speakers. For more information on the panellists please see the OPHI news release here.

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New Research in Progress Paper and OPHI Working Paper Examine Questions of Data Sources and Availability

OPHI has published two new papers.

1) OPHI Working Paper No. 72: “Mobilizing the Household Data Required to Progress toward the SDGs” by Sabina Alkire and Emma Samman. This paper notes that data on poverty-related SDGs are not updated frequently, nor are the data always available promptly. It reviews the key non-census data sources underlying the MDGs – household surveys (national and international), and administrative and registry data – to assess which data sources could provide the more frequent data required to design and coordinate policies, measure, manage, and monitor progress towards the poverty-related SDGs. It also reviews new data sources such as opinion polls ‘big data’, satellite data, call records, and other digital breadcrumbs to see how these might augment the information required to assess progress in the SDGs. The paper concludes that high quality multi-topic household surveys complemented by interim lighter surveys have a demonstrated ability to collect the core indicators of human poverty at an individual and household level in a rigorous way, so are likely to remain a core component of the data framework.

You can read a version of the paper published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) here.

2) OPHI Research in Progress Series 43a: “Towards Frequent and Accurate Poverty Data” by Sabina Alkire. This paper looks at the idea of data availability as playing a crucial role in the fight against poverty. It recognizes that data quantity and frequency has increased over the past thirty years, but still lag behind the data available for many other economic phenomena. This paper points out existing experiences that shed light on how to break the cycle of outdated poverty data and strengthen statistical systems. Such experiences show that it is possible to generate and analyse frequent and accurate poverty data that energizes and enables poverty eradication.

For other OPHI Working Papers, click here. For other OPHI Research in Progress Series, click here.


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Launch of the Post-2015 ‘Light-Powerful’ Household Survey Modules

The Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN) and OPHI, which acts as the Network’s Secretariat, have launched the third collaborative draft proposal for light but powerful household survey modules, in response to the widely agreed need for a ‘data revolution’ post-2015. Previous drafts were launched in November 2013 and April 2014, and revised following extensive discussion and input.

Today, OPHI is pleased to announce the release of the final version of the proposed Post-2015 Light-Powerful Household Survey Modules.

For full information about the Survey Modules, click HERE.

The Survey Modules are available by clicking HERE.


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OPHI Researchers conduct training in Kigali, Rwanda

OPHI’s Research Officers Adriana Conconi and Diego Zavaleta delivered two training sessions in Kigali, Rwanda organised jointly with UNDP-Rwanda.

The first 3-day course was delivered to faculty members of the University of Rwanda by OPHI Research Officer Diego Zavaleta. The course focused on the evolution of the concept of human development and different ways in which it has historically been measured and analysed. The second 3-day training led by OPHI Researcher Adriana Conconi introduced the concept of multidimensional poverty and presented the Alkire-Foster methodology of poverty measurement. Participants in the training worked in groups to develop their own multidimensional poverty index for Rwanda using micro-data from household surveys.

You can see teaching material on these and many other topics on OPHI’s online training portal accessible here.


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OPHI annual Summer School on Multidimensional Poverty in Oxford, UK

OPHI has finished teaching its annual two week summer school on multidimensional poverty in this month from 11-23 August, at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Seventy one people participated in the course, including statisticians from international development organizations, students, policy makers and technical experts from government offices from around the world.

Country representatives came from individual country governments including Bangladesh, Cameroon, Chile, China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ehtiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay and Zambia. International organisations represented at the school included United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) national offices, Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), Islamic Research and Training Institution, Islamic Development Bank (IRTI-IDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Economic Commission for Latin American Countries (ECLAC).  A number of these countries and organisations are members of the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network.

The purpose of this intensive summer school was to provide a thorough conceptual and technical introduction to some techniques of measuring multidimensional poverty with a strong emphasis on the Alkire-Foster method. Participants revised axiomatic poverty measures, and  learnt about the different techniques of multidimensional poverty measurement. Participants devised their own multidimensional poverty measure that drew on Amartya Sen’s capability approach.

You can read Sabina Alkire’s blog post on the summer school here.

Presentations delivered during the summer school are available to view on the OPHI Summer School 2014 page. Photographs and videos from the summer school will be made available shortly.

To keep updated about the next summer school and how to apply, join OPHI’s mailing list by entering your email address here.

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OPHI’s John Hammock visits Accion Joven Foundation in Costa Rica

While in Costa Rica John Hammock visited the community of Carpio–one of San Jose’s most notorious slum communities. He visited a youth rescue program with the Accion Joven Foundation, a private NGO that works to bring and keep impoverished youth in school. John was able to talk to these teenage boys who used to be in gangs but who have now turned to support each other as they go back to school or get jobs. Rescuing kids from poverty is the work of this energetic Costa Rican foundation. Giving governments the tools to better reach these kids and others is what the MPI is all about.

la foto

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