Monthly Archives: June 2015

The World’s Poor – The OPHI Multidimensional Poverty Index

The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative recently released its latest key findings for the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). As discussed in an earlier post, the MPI is a measure of poverty designed to capture the multiple deprivations that each poor person faces at the same time with respect to education, health and other aspects of living standards. The MPI reflects both the incidence of multidimensional poverty (the proportion of people in a population who are multidimensionally poor), and its intensity (the average number of deprivations each poor person experiences at the same time). It is especially useful since it may be utilized to create a comprehensive picture of people living in poverty, and permits comparisons both across countries, regions and the world, and within countries by ethnic group, urban/rural location, as well as other key household and community characteristics.

Key findings from the updated MPI include:

  • Of the 1.6 billion people living in multidimensional poverty, 54% live in South Asia, and 31% in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Most (62%) MPI poor people do not live in failed states. However, in countries classified as in very high alert by the Fragile States Index, on average 72% of people are multidimensionally poor.
  • Most MPI poor people – 70% – live in Middle Income Countries.
  • The global MPI complements $1.25/day poverty, making visible other types of poverty. For example in Chad and Ethiopia, the incidence of MPI is about 87% whereas for $1.25/day poverty it is only 37%.
  • Nearly half of all MPI poor people live with such extreme deprivations – like severe malnutrition or no more than one year of education in the household – that they should be considered destitute – 736 million people.

Last, the 10 countries with the lowest scores on the MPI were (in descending order, and with MPI figures in brackets):

  • Mali (0.457)
  • Guinea (0.459)
  • Guinea-Bissau (0.462)
  • Sierra Leone (0.464)
  • Somalia (0.514)
  • Burkina Faso (0.535)
  • Chad (0.554)
  • South Sudan (0.557)
  • Ethiopia (0.564)
  • Niger (0.605)

Table 1 – OPHI: Multidimensional Poverty Index – 2015

graph poverty



Overall, poverty remains the gravest human rights challenge facing the world today. In combating poverty, the world has “a moral obligation to look more deeply at the issues of poverty so the most marginalised groups or regions [are] not left behind.” The OPHI’s Multidimensional Poverty Index shows not only who is poor but also in what ways, ultimately helping to better understand poverty and shape more effective policies and reduction measures.

The Meaning of June 20th

June 20. Just another day for most people around the world. But for Eritreans, it is a day full of meaning and of utmost importance. It is Mealti Sematat. A day set aside to give thanks and remember the thousands who gave their lives and limbs to make May 24 possible.

The sheer significance of June 20 is extremely difficult to appropriately capture in words. How do you adequately convey the courage of men, women, young, and old, who encountered unfathomable odds, yet approached their challenges with utter fearlessness? Or the resilience and steadfastness apparent in fighting, scratching, clawing – just surviving – year after year? Attack after attack? Drought, famine, illness, and setback? How do you properly describe the sacrifice and selflessness of individuals who fought and gave their own lives with the full understanding that ultimate success would only transpire much, much later – and without them there to experience it? What words can sufficiently express the nobleness of the hamadie (mothers) who graciously blessed their own sons and daughters who went off to contribute to the great cause, with no guarantee they would ever return? How to convey the coming together of Eritreans – men and women, inside the country and across the diaspora, young and old, of various religious backgrounds, and from any of 9 different ethno-linguistic groups – united by a common goal?

June 20 inspires a wide range of emotions and sentiments. Reverence, respect, and sorrow, to name only a few. But you also feel blessed, in that you are blessed to have the opportunity to know your history, and able to play a contributing role in the future. You feel thankful, in that there were, and continue to be, people providing amazing examples for you to follow and standards to maintain. You feel love, as in the unfaltering love we all have for one another, our country, our history, and our culture.

However, the word “obligated” is most apt. June 20 is a reminder of our obligations to our heroes and martyrs that sacrificed everything, and continue to, so that we have a country to call our own. Not only must we proudly cherish their memory, we are obligated to strive to fulfill their dreams of a prosperous, harmonious, golden Eritrea.

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