Handbook launched to guide countries in building a national MPI

On July 18, 2019 OPHI from the University of Oxford and the United National Development Programme (UNDP) launched a handbook entitled How to Build a National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI): Using the MPI to inform the SDGs  at a Side Event of the High-Level Political Forum at the UN.

This handbook, which is available online, provides detailed practical guidance for planners, policymakers and statisticians on how to build a technically rigorous and permanent national MPI.

It provides hard evidence on how countries around the world have designed and used their national MPIs to guide policy and accelerate progress towards the SDGs.

It is also intended as a resource for civil society, academics, journalists and others interested in broadening their country’s poverty metrics, in line with the 2030 Agenda.

With the use of a national MPI, UNDP and OPHI hope to strengthen national capacities of policymakers, technical experts and other stakeholders to:

  • build a deeper, more holistic measure reflecting what poverty means in their national contexts to complement existing monetary measures;
  • track, report and review progress in reducing multidimensional poverty, in keeping with the 2030 Agenda SDG target 1.2;
  • use evidence to improve policies, reach the most severely poor and facilitate approaches to implement the SDGs that work across sectors to address the deprivations that leave people behind; and
  • broaden national ownership and engagement in efforts to eradicate poverty in all its forms.

The handbook was launched by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, the Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Policy and Programme Support Bureau, who described the publication as a tool for practical use, not just a handbook but a “heart book”. On Mandela Day, the Assistant Secretary General reminded the audience that poverty is like apartheid and slavery – an assault on dignity, and that this handbook was a weapon in the fight against poverty.

High-level officials from Colombia, India and Pakistan, and Professor James E. Foster, who built with Sabina Alkire the Alkire-Foster method upon which MPIs are based, shared their practical experiences in designing and using a national MPI for tracking progress in the SDGs. This was followed by insightful interventions from the floor, which discussed the alignment of national MPIs with the Sustainable Development Goals, cooperation between international agencies and the challenge of data.


Abdoulaye Mar Dieye Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Policy and Programme Support Bureau

“National MPIs offer a tailored pathway to each country towards ending poverty. It can be a useful tool to monitor progress on the SDGs and it can be used for different policy purposes. For instance, to align programs, policies and budgets; to motivate the coordination between ministries,  the coordination between national and subnational governments; or to strengthen transparency and accountability.”

“We need a coalition of the willing that poverty is not purely about economics but muldimensional.”

H.E. Ms Gloria Alonso, Minister of National Planning, Government of Colombia

“The challenge is not only of statistics but also of results.”

“The Colombian MPI was designed with the aim to guide and track public policy.”

“The MPI…continues to be one of the most important tracking indicators to monitor accomplishments related to SDG 1 and the SDG agenda.”

“It would be very useful to learn from other countries’ experiences and we also hope that some other countries can learn from our experience in designing and in the use of the measure to guide public policy.”

Ms Sanyukta Samaddar, Adviser-SDGs at NITI AAYOG, Government of India

“India’s success holds the key to achieving 2030 Agenda.”

“The world has moved on and so have the levels of deprivation. We believe that defining poverty in economic terms gives a very narrow view.”

Mr Riaz Fatyana, Convener, National SDG Parliamentary Task Force and Chairman of Standing Committee on Human Rights and Law, National Assembly of Pakistan.

“MPI is more useful for targeting if it can provide as many subnational estimates as possible.”

“Poverty is a multi-faced phenomenon.”

“We spent almost a year on consultation process…we thought that ownership was important.”

Professor James E. Foster, Oliver T. Carr Jr. Professor of International Affairs at the George Washington University

“It’s a practical guide for countries to create their own well-grounded statistics reflecting local values of what constitutes poverty.”

“The MPI is a prime example of what I call ‘intentional measurement’ which entails careful planning to avoid pitfalls, intentionally confronting the difficult trade-offs inherent in the process.”

“I see the Handbook as a template for effective leadership where you, the member countries and organizations, are on centre stage.”

Download the Handbook here.

See video here.