‘MPI provides vital information for Sri Lanka towards development’

Samurdhi, Household Economy, Micro Finance, Self-Employment, Business Development and Underutilized State Resources Development State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said that it is imperative that the country underpins its policies and interventions using data and evidence in the 2020 global report on the Multidimensional Poverty Index.

“This is a key to ensuring that Sri Lanka harnesses the COVID-19 crisis to leap forward towards the aspirations of our national policy framework and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the State Minister said.

The 2020 global report on the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) entitled ‘Charting pathways out of multidimensional poverty: Achieving the SDGs’ was launched recently in Colombo.

It says 4.1 per cent of the population in Sri Lanka live below the National poverty line, with 14.3 per cent vulnerable to multidimensional poverty.

Multidimensional poverty, assessed in the report jointly produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), examines poverty beyond income deprivations and identifies multiple deprivations at the household and individual level in health, education and standard of living.

To generate a conversation around the MPI tool, as the designated technical lead within the UN system on socio-economic recovery, UNDP, along with the OPHI, launched the report in Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The report states that across 107 developing countries, 1.3 billion are multi-dimensionally poor, and this number could increase given COVID-19 repercussions. With just 10 years are left to achieve the vision of the Sustainable development agenda, the MPI can be a powerful tool to formulate data driven policies that could help the recovery of countries.

UNDP Resident Representative in Sri Lanka Robert Juhkam said that there was no better time than now to introduce a multidimensional approach to poverty in Sri Lanka. “As the technical lead on socioeconomic recovery, the UNDP is well positioned to support DCS in this initiative. “Together we can design a future that looks beyond recovery, towards 2030,” he said..

The launch was followed by a panel discussion as a part of the Colombo Development Dialogues series, and was moderated by UNDP Policy and Engagement Analyst in Sri Lanka Raashid Riza on ‘Understanding vulnerabilities: addressing poverty, towards empowered Sri Lankan households’. The panel comprised Dr. Indu Bandara, Director General of the Department of Census and Statistics; Ms. Louise Moreira Daniels, Chief of Social Policy at UNICEF; Dr. Sabina Alkire, Director of Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative and Senior Research Professional at the Centre for Poverty Analysis Kulasabanathan Romeshun.

OPHI Director at the University of Oxford Sabina Alkire concluded that the MPI’s compact evidence – with its information on the level and composition of poverty – provides the data needed to pinpoint how and where poverty manifests itself, enabling policymakers to know how – and where to target resources and interventions.

The ongoing pandemic will likely create additional pressures on vulnerable and marginalized groups. Addressing each challenge requires a different approach, many of which need to go beyond improving income, to “build forward better” post-COVID-19.

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