London: Nepal and
Bangladesh are reducing poverty faster compared to India,
according to a new study based on the multidimensional poverty
index developed at the University of Oxford and used by the UN
Development Programme (UNDP) in its Human Development Reports.
India also made significant progress in reducing poverty between
1999 and 2006, but at a rate that was less than one-third of the
speed of its poorer neighbours, with a reduction in poverty rates
of 1.2 percentage points per year [instead of 4.1% (Nepal) or 3.2%
(Bangladesh)], the study found.
However, multidimensional poverty was reduced least in the poorest
states - such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh
and West Bengal - and among the poorest social groups, such as
Scheduled Tribes, Muslims, female-headed households and larger
According to the study, even India's best-performing states -
Kerala and Andhra Pradesh - progressed little more than half as
fast as Nepal or Bangladesh in reducing multidimensional poverty,
a release from the Oxford Poverty and Human development Initiative
(OPHI), which conducted the study, said.
"The success of Nepal and Bangladesh in reducing poverty despite
their relatively low income highlights the effectiveness of social
policy investments combined with active civil society engagement,"
said Sabina Alkire, director of OPHI.
The poverty measure used by OPHI, the global Multidimensional
Poverty Index (MPI), is said to be unique in capturing the
simultaneous disadvantages experienced by poor people, such as
malnutrition, education and sanitation, providing a
high-resolution lens on their lives.
According to researcher Suman Seth, "From 1999-2006 India did very
well in certain aspects of poverty reduction; for example, MPI
among the scheduled caste groups showed a strong reduction, and
poverty among the most destitute went down faster than the
He added: "However, it's still the case that the benefits of
national poverty reduction have been enjoyed least by some of the
poorer groups and regions."
OPHI added that India had not collected official data on MPI
deprivations including malnutrition since 2005/6, making India's
MPI the least up-to-date in South Asia.
The global MPI, which was developed by OPHI and UNDP in 2010 and
has been published in Human Development reports since, assesses
multidimensional poverty in 104 countries for which data since
2002 are available.
The study found that were 'star performers': the percentage of
poor people in Nepal dropped from 64.7% to 44.2% between 2006 and
2011, 4.1 percentage points per year, while in Bangladesh poverty
rates decreased by 3.2 percentage points per year between 2004 and
In addition to reducing the percentage of poor people, both Nepal
and Bangladesh reduced the intensity of poverty. This means that
even poor people were on average less poor - deprived in fewer
things at the same time - than they had been before, an important
element of multidimensional poverty analysis that provides a more
balanced picture of poor people's lives, the release added.
The MPI is based on a deprivation score which reflects each
person's overlapping deprivations in nutrition, child mortality,
years of schooling, child school attendance, water, sanitation,
electricity, cooking fuel, flooring, and assets.
A person is identified as 'multidimensionally poor' if he or she
is deprived in one-third or more of ten (weighted) indicators.
(Prasun Sonwalkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)