Caribbean moves forward with multidimensional poverty measure

Political and technical leaders from the Caribbean will meet in Barbados this month to move forward with the construction of a new measure of multidimensional poverty for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) region.

The committee, which is comprised of representatives from Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts and Nevis, is using the Alkire Foster method to compute a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The new index will be tailored to capture the non-income aspects of poverty in the OECS region, and will be computed annually or every two years.

The measure will allow countries to analyse poverty by sub-group and by different dimensions, of which there are four: living standards, labour, education and health. The living standards dimension will include indicators on housing, access to basic services, income and crime.

Lara Blanco, UN Development Program (UNDP) Deputy Representative for Barbados and the OECS, said focusing on income without taking into account the multifaceted nature of how people experience poverty, can lead to short term, unsustainable poverty reduction strategies.

“Multidimensional poverty approaches highlight the effects of the compounded vulnerabilities on the lives of individuals and within households, for the most strategic and impactful response,” she said.

At the February meeting, the technical committee will discuss the specific indicators and weights for each dimension, and set a precise timetable for the creation of the measure.

OPHI is working closely with the OECS and UNDP in the preparation of the index. OPHI Research Officers Mauricio Apablaza and Adriana Conconi participated in a two-day workshop organised by OECS and UNDP on 9-10 December 2013 to offer insights into the process of developing a customised MPI. A seminar on ‘Implementing Multidimensional Poverty Measurement in Barbados and the OECS’ aimed to agree common ground for countries in the region to start computing a periodic measure of poverty, and was attended by UNDP, the OECS, the Caribbean Development Bank, UNICEF and UN Women, as well as OPHI.

At the December meeting, it was agreed that a broader notion of poverty is needed, which will be computed with more frequency. Training sessions will be scheduled to assist local governments in computing the measure, and build technical capacity in each country.