Delhi, Kerala, Goa have least number of poor: UNDP

Amidst acute poverty across South Asia, the five states of Delhi, Kerala, Goa, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have the least number of poor people in India.

Updated: Jul 15, 2010, 14:33 PM IST

London: Amidst acute poverty across South Asia, the five states of Delhi, Kerala, Goa, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have the least number of poor people in India, according to a new measure of global poverty developed at the University of Oxford for the UNDP.

The new measure, called the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), has been developed and applied by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).

It will be featured in the forthcoming 20th anniversary edition of the UN Development Programme Human Development Report.

A detailed analysis using the MPI reveals that South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have comparable intensities of poverty, according to an OPHI working paper titled `Acute
Multidimensional Poverty: A New Index for Developing Countries`.

In terms of human lives, South Asia has the world`s highest levels of poverty.

Fifty-one percent of the population of Pakistan is MPI poor, 58 percent in Bangladesh, 55 percent in India, and 65 percent in Nepal.

The analysis states: "We find that Delhi has an MPI equivalent to Iraq (which ranks 45), whereas Bihar`s MPI is similar to Guinea’s (the 8th poorest country in the ranking).

"In terms of headcount, in Delhi and Kerala 14 percent and 16 percent of the population are MPI poor, respectively, whereas in Jharkhand 77 percent of the population are MPI poor and in Bihar, 81 percent".

Other `top ten` states with the least number of poor in India are Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Haryana and Gujarat.

The analysis by MPI creators reveals that there are more `MPI poor` people in eight Indian states (421 million in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa,
Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal) than in the 26 poorest African countries combined (410 million).

"Just to provide a sense of perspective, the population of the poorest Indian state Bihar, with 95 million people, exceeds the sum of nine of the ten poorest African
countries," according to the authors Sabina Alkire and Maria Emma Santos.

Further analysis shows that in India, the Scheduled Tribes have the highest MPI (0.482), almost the same as Mozambique, and a headcount of 81 percent.

The Scheduled Castes have a headcount of 66 percent and their MPI is a bit better than Nigeria.

Fifty-eight percent of other Backward Castes are MPI poor.

About one in three of the remaining Indian households are multi-dimensionally poor, and their MPI is just below that of Honduras, the paper says.

As many as 39 percent in India live in a poor household where at least one child or woman is undernourished.

The paper adds that 25 percent in India, and 15 percent in Nepal live in a household where one or more children are not attending school.

Half of the world’s poor as measured by the MPI live in South Asia (51 percent or 844 million people) and one quarter in Africa (28 percent or 458 million).

Niger has the greatest intensity and incidence of poverty in any country, with 93 percent of the population classified as poor in MPI terms.

The MPI reveals the nature and extent of poverty at different levels: from household up to regional, national and international level.

This new multidimensional approach to assessing poverty has been adapted for national use in Mexico, and is now being considered by Chile and Colombia.

"The MPI is like a high resolution lens which reveals a vivid spectrum of challenges facing the poorest households," said OPHI Director Sabina Alkire.

PTI