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NEW DELHI: India had the biggest reduction in the number of multidimensionally poor people estimated at over 270 million during the 2005-15 period, a new UN report has said.
The data, released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), showed that 65 of the 75 countries studied significantly reduced their multidimensional poverty levels between 2000 and 2019.
Four countries—Armenia (2010–2015/2016), India (2005/2006–2015/2016), Nicaragua (2001–2011/2012) and North Macedonia (2005/2006–2011) halved their global MPIT value and did so in 5.5–10.5 years. These countries show what is possible for countries with very different initial poverty levels. They account for roughly a fifth of the world’s population, mostly because of India, the report said. The multidimensional index is a measure that looks beyond income to include access to safe water, education, electricity, food and six other indicators.
But the impact of Covid-19 may slow down efforts to reduce multidimensional poverty. The Covid-19 pandemic unfolded in the midst of this analysis. While data are not yet available to measure the rise of global poverty after the pandemic, simulations based on different scenarios suggest that, if unaddressed, progress across 70 developing countries could be set back by 3–10 years, the report said.
“Covid-19 is having a profound impact on the development landscape. But this data – from before the pandemic – is a message of hope. Past success stories on how to tackle the many ways people experience poverty in their daily lives, can show how to build back better and improve the lives of millions,” said Sabina Alkire, Director of OPHI at the University of Oxford.
Among the 1.3 billion people still living in multidimensional poverty today, more than 80 per cent are deprived in at least five of the ten indicators used to measure health, education and living standards in the global MPI. The data also reveals that the burden of multidimensional poverty disproportionately falls on children. Half of the 1.3 billion poor have not yet turned 18. While 107 million are 60 or older, the report said.
Children show higher rates of multidimensional poverty: half of multidimensionally poor people (644 million) are children under age 18. One in three children is poor compared with one in six adults, the report said.
“Covid-19 is the latest crisis to hit the globe, and climate change all but guarantees more will follow soon. Each will affect the poor in multiple ways. More than ever, we need to work on tackling poverty – and vulnerability to poverty – in all its forms. This is why the Multidimensional Poverty Index is so important” said Pedro Conçeicão, Director of the Human Development Report Office at UNDP.

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