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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).

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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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


Food security bill in India continues to provoke discussion

India’s National Food Security Bill (NFSB), an initiative for ensuring food and nutritional security to the population, is up for discussion in the lower house of the Indian Parliament on 19 August. The Bill aims to provide a majority of the nation’s population with the right to 5kg of foodgrain every month, at highly subsidised rates of Rs 1-3 per kilogram.

In July 2013, the NFSB was signed into ordinance, but critics have argued that the cost of the Bill is excessive.

OPHI Director Sabina Alkire described that charge as ‘exceedingly strange’ in an opinion piece published by The Hindu a week before the bill was introduced in the lower house in India on 7 August. An uproar over the Bill led to proceedings being adjourned until 19 August.

In The Hindu, Alkire argues that expenditure on providing food security will add minimally to public spending, and compares India’s fiscal priorities with those of other countries in Asia, where, she says, governments across the political spectrum invest more in social protection.

She concludes: ‘India has a higher proportion of stunted children than nearly any other country on earth, yet spends half the proportion of GDP that lower middle income Asian countries spend on social protection and less than one-fifth of what high income countries in Asia spend.’ You can read Alkire’s article, titled ‘This bill won’t eat your money’, in full here.

Alkire’s views are echoed by Jean Drèze, Visiting Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Allahabad, in a recent op-ed article in The Hindu in which he notes that ‘Statistical hocus-pocus has been deployed with abandon to produce wildly exaggerated “estimates” of the financial costs of the bill.’ He goes on to outline the main impacts the Bill’s provisions would have on the Public Distribution System in India and cautions against fast-tracking the Bill.

Drèze has long been a discussant on the food security debate in India. Two years ago, he commented in an op-ed article in The Hindu on India’s draft National Food Security Act. In the article he drew on interesting findings from contemporary Below the Poverty Line identification studies by Reetika Khera, Sabina Alkire, and Himanshu, among others.

The findings suggested that about 25 to 30 per cent of households in rural India met simple, transparent and verifiable “exclusion criteria,” such as having a government job, owning a motorised vehicle, or living in a multi-storied house. Professor Drèze went on to suggest modifications to the proposed framework in response. Read the article in full.