OPHI working paper reveals differences in multidimensional poverty across Sudan and South Sudan

Multidimensional poverty is greater in South Sudan than in Sudan, but experiences of the poor vary significantly by gender, age and geographical region, a new OPHI working paper has found.

Paola Ballon from the Universidad Del Pacifico in Peru and the University of Oxford, and Jean-Yves Duclos from Laval University in Canada, analysed data from the National Baseline Household Surveys (NBHS) of 2009. Focusing on two population subgroups, children aged six to fourteen and adults aged fifteen or over, they assessed poverty in four dimensions:

  • education;
  • consumption of food and non-food items, including clothing and transport expenses;
  • access to public assets such as waste disposal and sanitation; and
  • possession of private assets such as vehicles and multimedia goods.

Considering each dimension of poverty separately, the researchers found significant differences between the two countries and across different sections of the population. Their findings showed, for example, that illiteracy rates are higher and concentrated among the younger population in South Sudan, in contrast to Sudan, where illiteracy is more present among older age groups.

Overall, poverty was higher in South Sudan than in Sudan in all four dimensions, with the greatest gap between the two countries being in education poverty. Among adults in Sudan, the highest incidence of poverty was in private assets and the lowest was in education, while in South Sudan the greatest incidence of poverty was found in education and the lowest in consumption. Differences were similarly found in the poverty profiles of children across the two countries.

The researchers also used a combined measure of the four dimensions to analyse multidimensional poverty rates in each country.

They found that the proportion of the adult population living in multidimensional poverty was significantly higher in South Sudan (73%) than Sudan (49%), although the average intensity of poverty experienced by the poor was very similar across the two countries. The results indicate that private assets and education are the dimensions that contribute most to adult multidimensional poverty in Sudan and South Sudan respectively.

Multidimensional poverty was also greater among children in South Sudan (70%) than Sudan (59%). Among both children and adults in the two countries, multidimensional poverty was highest among those living in rural areas.

Looking at multidimensional poverty across sub-national regions, the lowest rates of poverty in Sudan and South Sudan were found in Khartoum and Western Equatoria respectively, while the highest rates were found in Western Darfur and Warap.

The researchers emphasise that policies aimed at reducing poverty in both countries should take into account differences in poverty levels across gender, age groups and geographical areas, to ensure resources can be efficiently targeted.

Read the full paper

Multidimensional Poverty in Sudan and South Sudan’, by Paola Ballon and Jean-Yves Duclos, was published in the OPHI working paper series in April 2015.