New figures released by UNDP show that before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, progress was being made in tackling multidimensional poverty, according to the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), a measure that looks beyond income to include access to safe water, education, electricity, food and six other indicators. Now that progress is at risk.

The data, released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), shows that 65 out of 75 countries studied significantly reduced their multidimensional poverty levels between 2000 and 2019.

“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,” says Sabina Alkire, Director of OPHI at the University of Oxford.  

Addressing Multidimensional Poverty in a post-COVID-19 world

While data is not yet available to measure the rise of global multidimensional poverty after the pandemic, simulations for 70 countries in the developing world, based on the anticipated impacts of the virus on just two components of the global MPI – nutrition and school attendance – suggests how much impact the crisis could have unless it is addressed.

In three scenarios of varying deterioration in which 10, 25 and 50 percent of people who are multidimensionally poor or vulnerable become undernourished, and half of primary school-aged children no longer attend school, poverty levels could be set back 8 to 10 years.

“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” says Pedro Conçeicão, Director of the Human Development Report Office at UNDP.”

Moldova – marked by urban-rural disparities

The MPI value for the Republic of Moldova is 0.004, according to the latest available data from 2012. The highest contribution of deprivation in dimension to overall multidimensional poverty comes from the standard of living component, followed by education and health. Moldova is positioned as one of the poorest countries in the region, with inequalities between urban and rural areas in access to education and services.

According to National Bureau of Statistics in Moldova (NBS), in 2018 the absolute poverty rate was 23.0%, decreasing by 4.7 percentage points compared to 2017 (SDG indicator 1.2.1). At the same time, the extreme poverty rate was 8.7%.  

UNDP Moldova has teamed up with the National Bureau of Statistics to produce a local MPI, that shall be soon released, which considers the country’s context and peculiarities of deprivations in Moldova.

As COVID-19 crisis unfolds, the expected impact of the deprivations in specific dimensions for several particularly affected groups of population is deepening.

UNDP Moldova is conducting on behalf of UN Country Team in Moldova an in-depth socio-economic impact assessment and will focus on the exacerbation of vulnerabilities for several specific socially excluded groups of populations.

Addressing each challenge requires a different approach, many of which need to go beyond improving income. This is particularly true in the light of UNDP’s work encouraging societies everywhere to take the opportunity to rethink development pathways and “build back better” post-COVID.

Access full data and publication: https://hdr.undp.org/en/2020-mpi

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