Colombia announced that it will introduce a set of new national measures of poverty, inequality and wellbeing at a recent international conference in Bogota organized by the Colombian Ministry of Planning (DNP) in collaboration with OPHI, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the World Bank on 28-29 July 2010. The new indices include Colombia’s first national multidimensional poverty measure, which will use the methodology developed by OPHI Director Sabina Alkire and James Foster, Professor at George Washington University and OPHI Research Associate.
The new set of measures is intended to inform more accurate policy decisions at different levels of the State. Speaking at the conference in July, Esteban Piedrahita, Director General of the Colombian Ministry of Planning said: “This will be a tool for the national government, territorial governments, and all institutions dedicated to overcoming poverty, and will fuel further academic debate on the issue.”
Colombia’s proposed multidimensional poverty measure includes five dimensions of deprivation – education, condition of children and youth, occupation, health, access to public services and housing conditions. It uses the same technique employed by the new international Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), launched by OPHI and the UNDP Human Development Report earlier in July. The MPI is necessarily broad because it uses the data available at the international level.
The Colombian Ministry of Planning have used the same methodology with national household data to design a “national multidimensional poverty index” that is tailored to Colombia’s context. The measure’s final construction, including the dimensions, cut-offs and weights, will be finalised after several months of consultation opened at the conference.
Colombia has long recognised the need for a holistic approach to poverty measurement. Former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe Vélez spoke of OPHI’s multidimensional technique in his speech to mark the 200 years of independence celebrations in Colombia.