Developing strategies to end hunger

Multidimensional Poverty Continues to Drop

Hunger Report Monday

The world's poorest citizens are steadily moving into the global “middle class,” according to the recently released 2013 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The report, an Oxford University poverty and human development initiative, predicts that countries among the most impoverished in the world could eradicate acute poverty within 20 years if they continue at present rates. Their tool for measurement, the MPI, is not only significant for its promising economic forecast, but for its groundbreaking multifaceted method of defining true poverty.

In recent years, especially since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, economists and development experts have learned to expand their concept of development to encompass far more than traditional economic yardsticks such as GDP or income per capita. They've discovered that it is really about a human being’s quality of life, an appropriately more complex concept. In previous posts, we have discussed the ingenuity of new tools like the Human Development Index (HDI), which now help us more accurately track the many ways in which human beings can improve their livelihoods. Just as the HDI has redefined the end goal, which is development, the MPI has redefined one of the most urgent barriers — poverty.

A graphic illustrating the indicators that compose the MPI
Rather than just providing a headcount, the MPI is designed to convey the intensity of poverty that people experience, with respect to education, health, and living standards. For example, two households in a village are led by single mothers with three children. Each woman earns $1.00 per day. One of them has no schooling while the other has completed primary school and is literate. The one with no schooling has HIV, while the other does not. Both are poor, but they are not poor in the same way—and their MPI scores would reflect this.

The MPI uses 10 key indicators that complement traditional income-based poverty measures by capturing a number of severe deprivations that a person faces simultaneously. The result is a more complete poverty measurement that can identify the poorest among the poor and direct aid resources to them accordingly.

Perhaps the most encouraging outcome of the MPI, as the 2013 report shows, is that it is uncovering progress previously less visible in even the world's “poorest” nations. Read more about the MPI and its impact on the effort to end poverty and hunger in chapter 1 of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals.  Derek Schwabe


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