The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have initiated a new poverty measurement for Pakistan based on the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index (MPI). Dr. Sabina Alkire, director of OPHI, says that the MPI is “ethical and it gives an overview of many kinds of deprivation for the poor and provides an integrated approach.” She also states that the MPI has “helped many countries reduce poverty related millennium development goals.”MPI has been successful in Nepal, where the poverty rate was reduced from 65 percent to 45 percent in just five years. Rather than addressing the general outcomes of poverty as a whole, the MPI focuses in on the specific aspects of poverty within a country in order to more clearly address needs.Traditional indices are unable to accurately reflect levels of poverty in Pakistan, as different regions of the country have more severe poverty issues than others. Therefore, summing the entire country up in one general index is not helpful to policymakers. In order to compare the severity of districts, the MPI will map these districts on a range of multidimensional poverty. Education as well as health and living standards will be taken into account in the MPI – things that traditional indices may overlook or be unable to accurately depict because of over-generalization.

The MPI is a measure for policy analysis, resource allocation, dialogue, and monitoring. Mar-Andre Franche, country director of UNDP, says that the MPI is crucial in creating good policies and monitoring the effectiveness of those policies over time. It also helps policymakers  ensure that poor people are benefitting from social services.  “In Pakistan (the MPI) is the first step for measuring the multidimensional poverty both at the federal and provincial levels,” he said.

Pakistan’s new index was inspired by the MPI, developed by OPHI, and released by the UNDP. The aforementioned participants will be collaborating in three specific areas:

  1. To promote multidimensional poverty measurements and policy applications via knowledge exchange between participants; knowledge sharing; and joint advocacy.
  2. Effective and informed role in the post-2015 discussions about multidimensional poverty measurements, and to promote the multidimensional measurement of development goals in the post-2015 context.
  3. To promote joint research and develop measurement tools, policy design and analysis and to assist with the dissemination and technical validation of efforts to implement multidimensional poverty alleviation measures.
– Madisson Barnett

Sources: The Hindu, Business Recorder, The International News
Photo: Flickr

What is the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index?
Measuring poverty can be tricky. Income is a good place to start, but it does not tell the whole story. A recent graduate can live comfortably on the same amount on which a family of four would struggle.

Researchers have begun to search for more comprehensive measures of poverty.  One such measure is the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index (MPI), created by Sabina Alkire at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. This index takes the answers to ten questions – two on education, two on health, and six on living standards – and combines them into a single index. Different questions are weighted differently. Whether your children are enrolled in primary education, for instance, counts three times more than whether you have electricity. Higher scores indicate higher levels of poverty. Households with composite scores over 33% are considered to be in poverty.

One problem with the MPI is that its weightings are arbitrary. Whether access to clean water or access to education matters more is up for debate. Yet despite its shortcomings, the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index has drawn attention to specifics of poverty that income does not address.

– David Wilson

Source: The Economist
Photo: Inquirer Business