Multidimensional measures in the Sustainable Development Goals

Poverty is multidimensional. Poor people can experience many different forms of deprivation at the same time – such as poor health, a lack of education, insecurity or low living standards – which are not always concurrent with a lack of money.

That is why it is necessary to have an integrated measure of multidimensional poverty for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in order to complement income poverty measures and show interconnected deprivations.

How does the MPI support the SDG agenda?

Many countries are using the MPI to measure progress towards the first SDG. Why? Here are some reasons.

  • Leave No One Behind MPI analysis tracks progress on poverty for different groups. Existing MPI data allows us to see poverty by, for example sub-national regions, by rural and urban areas, and by groups such as children, ethnic groups and caste.
  • Monitor Progress: the MPI is used to track and compare multidimensional poverty over time. National MPIs are used to compare regions and groups within a country; A regional or Global MPI can also compare countries.
  • Integrated, coordinated policy Whether in China or Colombia the MPI is used by senior policy makers to coordinate policy and to understand and track the impact of their policies on the poor, helping to break down silos and intensify policy impact.
  • Universal relevance National and regional MPI measures are tailor made to context. They address moderate or acute poverty and reflect contextual values and definitions.

The MPI illuminates for policy makers who is poor, how they are poor and how intensely they suffer poverty. Such detailed analysis will help to achieve a crucial aspiration for the global drive to end poverty: ensuring no one is left behind.

The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index is a vital tool for tracking the success of the SDGs.

How can OPHI help countries measure progress towards SDG-1?

OPHI and the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network provide technical and policy support to countries through the whole process of introducing and using multidimensional measures. For more information please contact us.

The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index

The Global MPI captures the different types of disadvantage that each poor person experiences at the same time – this could include, for example, poor sanitation, malnutrition, gender discrimination, poor quality of work, or violence. As well as providing a headline measure of multidimensional poverty within a population, the Global MPI can be broken down to reveal:

  • How people are poor (which deprivations strike people at the same time)
  • Where the poorest people live – by region or social group
  • The intensity of the deprivations experienced by those living in poverty.

The Global MPI is based on OPHI’s Alkire-Foster Method for multidimensional measurement.

Download OPHI’s 4-page briefing paper on Multidimensional Poverty in the SDGs.

Universal yet responsive to national complexities

The MPI is both universal and responsive to each country’s national complexities.

A universal or global MPI is internationally comparable and can incorporate agreed dimensions of poverty – economic, social or environmental – based on participatory and expert inputs. It can define at least two degrees of multidimensional poverty, such as ‘acute’ or ‘moderate’, to have relevance across countries with different kinds of poverty.

Governments or civil society organisations can also create their own MPIs that incorporate the dimensions of poverty relevant to their own national context and goals.

By pinpointing exactly how and where people are poor, a national MPI enables governments to better target their resources and combat poverty more effectively. As the MPI shows how different deprivations overlap and interconnect, policy initiatives can also be integrated to tackle multiple aspects of poverty together. And by revealing which groups or regions are experiencing poverty most acutely, the MPI can help focus on the most vulnerable, ensuring that no one is left behind.

National MPIs

The governments of Mexico, Colombia and Chile have already adopted official national multidimensional poverty measures – incorporating dimensions of poverty that are relevant to their countries – enabling them to design effective poverty-reduction programmes. Many other countries are now lining up to fight poverty nationally, using multidimensional poverty measures as a tool to align management and policy.

The Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN), coordinated by OPHI, is a South-South initiative created in response to the overwhelming demand from policymakers for information and support on implementing multidimensional poverty measures nationally as well as globally.

Find out more about the MPPN’s work and participant countries.

Data revolution

In order to create a comprehensive and accurate MPI to adequately measure the Sustainable Development Goals, OPHI enthusiastically supports the call for a data revolution. To eradicate poverty, we must observe it more often and better.

OPHI and the MPPN have created Post-2015 Light Powerful Survey Modules designed to capture data needed to measure human poverty more accurately. It touches on 30 targets in 12 of the SDGs.

The modules help provide better information on indicators such as water, sanitation, assets, electricity, housing, child mortality, and school attendance. They also help provide the necessary data for more innovative indicators like violence, empowerment or informal work.

Related resources

Download OPHI’s 4 page briefing document: Multidimensional Poverty Index 2015+.

At a high-level side event at the 69th UN General Assembly in September 2014 hosted by the MPPN with OPHI, senior leaders from eight governments and institutions called on the UN to adopt the MPI 2015+. Find out more and watch a video of the event.

Read more about OPHI’s work on multidimensional poverty.

Find out more about the SDGs.