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UNDP, OPHI releases Multidimensional Poverty Index 2018

  • Published at 08:41 pm September 21st, 2018
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Speakers of UNDP and OPHI at a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday; September 21, 2018 Courtesy

The MPI provides the most comprehensive view of the various ways in which 1.3 billion people worldwide experience poverty in their daily life

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) released the 2018 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) on Friday. 

The MPI figures are closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner; UNDP Human Development Report Office Director Selim Jahan; and OPHI Director Sabina Alkire spoke at a press conference today at the UN headquarters in New York in this regard.

Traditional poverty measures – often calculated by numbers of people who earn less than $1.9 a day – shed light on how little people earn but not on whether or how they experience poverty on a day to day basis. The MPI looks at the multifaceted nature of poverty. It identifies people’s deprivations across three key dimensions – health, education and living standards, lacking amenities such clean water, sanitation, adequate nutrition or primary education. Those who are left behind in at least a third of the MPI’s components are defined as multidimensionally poor. 

Survey data for Bangladesh from 2014 shows that 21.5% of the population is vulnerable to multidimensional poverty and 16.2% is vulnerable to severe multidimensional poverty.

The MPI shows that a quarter of the population of 104 countries live in multidimensional poverty. The data also reveals that clear majority - 1.1 billion - of the multidimensional poor live in rural areas, where poverty rates are four times higher than that of urban areas.

A key finding of the 2018 MPI is that half of the people living in poverty are 18 years or younger. It shows that in these primarily low and middle-income countries, 662 million children are multidimensionally poor, and in 35 countries half of all children are poor.

And while multidimensional poverty is prevalent in all developing regions, some regions are worse off, as are some age groups.

“83% of the poorest live in sub Saharan Africa or South Asia. Half of them are children,” said Sabina Alkire.

Around 546 million people in South Asia – one third of the population - are multidimensionally poor, while 560 million people – more than half the population – of Sub Saharan Africa are so.

The MPI data also shows that in addition to the 1.3 billion categorized as poor, an additional 879 million are at risk of sliding into multidimensional poverty, which can be hastened by pre-existing conflicts, sickness, unemployment, climatic impacts, etc.

While the sobering statistics provide a harsh reminder of the extent of underdevelopment of the world, they also highlight the possibilities for achieving fast progress in tackling poverty.

“Development is about being more precise about directing the limited resources governments have, and the indicators of the MPI can aid that process,” said Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP.

“We see the fastest reduction in multidimensional poverty in the poorest states,” Sabina Alkire said.

“If we look at the religious groups, the Muslims are the poorest and they have had the fastest reduction in poverty. Among age groups, children have had the fastest reduction. So, the poorest are indeed catching up,” she added.

Selim Jahan alluded to the progress countries have made in reducing poverty, giving the example of India where the poverty rate has nearly halved from 2005-2006 to 2015-2016, falling from 55% to 28% over this period.

“The data shows that 271 million have been lifted out of poverty in India alone over the past 10 years, and that is equal to almost the whole population of Indonesia.”