President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia joined ministers and officials from around 20 governments to launch a network with Oxford University that aims to help emerging countries tackle global poverty.
Colombia and Mexico are among the first countries to adapt the method used to construct the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), devised by Oxford University researchers, to underpin their strategies for tackling poverty. Through the creation of the network, early adopters can share their experiences directly with other governments that want to reduce poverty. The MPI provides a detailed picture of poverty, showing the overlapping ways in which poor people are deprived.
The Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network has been created in response to overwhelming demand from governments for information and support in implementing the MPI method.
Called the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network, it was launched at a policy symposium in Oxford attended by ministers or senior representatives of Angola, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Iraq, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECD), the Philippines, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Tunisia, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and Uruguay.
Colombia included the Colombia-MPI as an official index for measuring poverty and as a tool to monitor the effect of policies designed to reduce poverty. At the launch event, President Santos said: 'Radical social advances are only possible if we understand – through careful observation and analysis – the deep roots of our poverty and the many shades of inequality within our society; hence, the urgency of implementing a multidimensional approach in our battle against poverty.
'We know this challenge has more than one side, more than one face, and to outsmart it we need to uncover them all. This is precisely what we have been doing, with the utmost dedication and the guidance of our Multidimensional Poverty Index, during the past two years. The MPI has inspired the social programmes and strategies that are improving most aspects of people's lives in my country.'
Gonzalo Hernandez Licona, from Mexico's National Council of Social Development Policy Evaluation (CONEVAL), said: 'Our official national multidimensional poverty measure helps the national and local governments and also Congress to make policies that improve economic wellbeing and social rights in an efficient and integrated way, and enables us to track changes by state and social groups. Our toolkit also contains biannual surveys, policy analyses, and an effective institutional framework. We are very happy to share our work and to foster relationships with people tasked with similar roles in other governments and organisations.'
The method adapted by Colombia and Mexico was developed at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), of Oxford University's Department for International Development, by OPHI's Director Sabina Alkire and Professor James Foster.
Dr Alkire said: 'Our approach starts with each person, and captures not just the percentage of people who are poor, but also the various ways in which they are deprived. The flexibility of the method enables policymakers to choose their own indicators to meet their country's specific needs and policy priorities.'
Developed in 2007, OPHI's method is being implemented at national or regional level in Bhutan, Brazil, China and El Salvador, as well as Mexico and Colombia, and is used to construct the global MPI published annually in UNDP's Human Development Reports.
China's Deputy Director General for the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development (LGOP), Zheng Wenkai, said: 'We are already exploring how a multidimensional poverty measure might help us to meet our national plan goals. We anticipate that learning from other countries' experiences through the network will enable us to identify the poor more effectively.'
The peer network is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It is managed and coordinated by OPHI along with Mexico's CONEVAL and Colombia's National Planning Department (DNP) and Department for Social Prosperity (DPS).
To coincide with the launch, OPHI has published a brochure, 'Measuring Multidimensional Poverty: Insights from Around the World', which features case studies on how the Alkire Foster method of measuring multidimensional poverty has been adapted and applied.