To compile a comprehensive measure of poverty, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is collaborating with provincial governments to develop a multi-dimensional poverty index (MPI) for Pakistan.
Zooming into minute details of poverty, mapping of multidimensional poverty at the provincial and district level will be undertaken and sub-national calculations for a new poverty index which is based on the global MPI methodology developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).
MPI approaches poverty as a multifaceted issue, enabling policymakers to allocate resources more effectively, improve policy design, monitor policy efficiency over time, and target poor people as beneficiaries of services and social safety nets.
Different sectors will be integrated in determining the final index with weights including health, education, and income.
The national multidimensional poverty line will serve as the baseline for comparison to determine the number of people below the multidimensional poverty line and those above it.
To facilitate comparison, different districts will be ranked and mapped on the severity and range of multidimensional poverty.
It will also assist in reshaping policy-making methods and improving the targeting of social policy by monitoring effectiveness of policy over time.
OPHI director at the University of Oxford, Dr Sabina Alkire said each country needs to choose dimensions that are most important for measuring poverty.
Since the past decade there has been no official consensus on how to measure and track poverty in Pakistan, said UNDP Country Director Marc-André Franche. “It is vital to improve policy design and monitor effectiveness of policy over time.”
Planning, Development Minister Prof. Ahsan Iqbal said traditional methods of one-dimensional indices cannot reflect the true poverty levels in Pakistan.
He said that the MPI is more comprehensive, integrated and holistic as it covers education, health and living standards. We have neglected the social sector since the 60s, he added.
A letter of agreement was signed by the Pakistan government, UNDP and OPHI.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2014.