How to reduce poverty
Two billion people across 111 countries, or 19.1%, live in acute multidimensional poverty, inform the UN Development Programme and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative
By SDG Knowledge Hub
Reducing poverty at scale is possible. This is the main finding of a report by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford. The report identifies “poverty profiles that can offer a breakthrough in development efforts to tackle the interlinked aspects of poverty.”
Titled, ‘Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2022: Unpacking Deprivation Bundles to Reduce Multidimensional Poverty,’ the publication “looks beyond income as a measurement of poverty.” Instead, it seeks to “understand how people experience poverty in different aspects of their daily lives,” including access to education, health, housing, drinking water, sanitation, and electricity.
The report identifies a series of “deprivation bundles” – recurring patterns of poverty – and uses data to determine the different poverty profiles that are more common in certain places. This, it argues, is “a crucial step in designing strategies that address multiple aspects of poverty at the same time.”
The report highlights that:
- Two billion people across 111 countries, or 19.1%, live in acute multidimensional poverty – nearly double the number who are defined as poor because they live on less than USD 1.90 per day. Half of these people are children under 18.
- The largest number of poor people live is Sub-Saharan Africa (nearly 579 million), followed by South Asia (385 million).
- More than 50% of poor people (593 million) lack both electricity and clean cooking fuel.
- Almost 40% of poor people (437 million) lack access to both drinking water and sanitation.
- More than 30% of poor people (374 million) are deprived of nutrition, cooking fuel, sanitation, and housing at the same time.
The report underscores the importance of understanding patterns to tackle poverty more effectively. As an illustration, one of the report’s authors, Tasneem Mirza, UNDP, described how families in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) that lack access to cooking fuel “are often unable to send their children to school, because the children are busy collecting firewood every day.” “[I]t might not be enough to build a village school unless the fuel problem is also fixed,” he said.
The report showcases successful examples of integrated poverty reduction strategies from across the globe. Nepal’s investment in sanitation, for example, has improved access to drinking water and child nutrition, reducing child mortality through a reduction in diarrhea.
Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 72 countries had significantly reduced poverty, with some 415 million people in India alone lifted out of multidimensional poverty in a 15-year period. However, the report acknowledges that “some of the efforts” to achieve SDG 1 (no poverty) “are likely to have been derailed as a result of recent overlapping crises.”
With government budgets becoming tighter, “it is vital to leverage the power of cutting-edge data and analytics to understand where the biggest difference can be made with increasingly scarce resources,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.