An innovative method for measuring multidimensional poverty is helping governments and organisations globally to design more effective poverty-reduction programmes.

Impacts

  • In 2009, Mexico launched its national multidimensional poverty measure using the Alkire Foster (AF) method which has been updated every two years
  • In 2011, Colombia launched a national Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), updated annually
  • The Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network was launched in June 2013 in Oxford, with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Professor Amartya Sen addressing Ministers and senior delegates from 16 governments
  • In 2014, the Philippines released a new multidimensional poverty measure, and Bhutan updated its national MPI (first reported for 2010)
  • OPHI organises two-week intensive training courses in multidimensional poverty measurement; eg in 2013, it trained more than 110 professionals from over 30 countries
  • A global MPI has been published and updated in the UN Development Programme's flagship Human Development Reports since 2010, as a result of collaboration between OPHI and the Human Development Report Office of the UN Development Programme
  • In 2011, the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index WEAI (constructed using the AF method) was launched. It is being used to support the US Government's food security programmes. The baseline report, published in 2013, analysed WEAI for 13 countries.

"Since 2009, Mexico's National Council for the Evaluation of Social Policy (CONEVAL) has used a new multidimensional poverty method to guide public policy. The methodology established by CONEVAL would have been impossible without the Alkire Foster methodology developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative." (Gonzalo Hernández Licona, Executive Secretary, CONEVAL, Government of Mexico)

About the research

Poverty is more than just lack of income - and no single indicator can capture the multiple aspects that constitute poverty or disadvantage. With the help of an ESRC-DFID grant, Dr Sabina Alkire and Professor James Foster of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) have developed an innovative methodology for measuring poverty, known as the Alkire Foster (AF) method.

This new, highly flexible tool captures many different aspects of poverty such as poor health, lack of education and inadequate living standards. It provides an at-a-glance poverty 'rating', and can also be broken down to reveal not only who is poor – by gender, ethnicity or region – but also how they are poor; which aspects of poverty they are experiencing.

The AF method and the global and national multidimensional poverty measures based on the methodology are helping a growing number of governments to more effectively design, implement and monitor their efforts to reduce poverty. Seven researchers are currently working full or part time for OPHI, collaborating with partners in governments and academia around the world.

To date, the governments of Bhutan, Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines are using AF multidimensional poverty measures to track poverty and improve poverty eradication efforts. Elsewhere, officials from countries including Chile, El Salvador, Malaysia, Vietnam and Nigeria are working on new official measures. To meet overwhelming demand for support and information on these innovative measures, a new international network has been created to promote knowledge-sharing and learning among policymakers. The Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN) was co-founded in 2013 by OPHI, along with Mexico's CONEVAL and Colombia's Department of Social Prosperity, and now counts ministers and officials from over 25 governments and international organisations as its participants.