MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Philippines is backing calls for the United Nations to adopt a wider definition of poverty meant to fine-tune efforts by governments around the world to bring down the number of poor people.
“We strongly support the push for the inclusion of multidimensional poverty measures in the menu of performance indicators for post-2015 development agenda,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a statement he delivered during a meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) held at the 68th UN General Assembly last September 24 in New York City.
Balisacan, who is also director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said the multidimensional poverty index (MPI) is “an extremely useful complement to income poverty based on, say, $1.25 per person per day poverty line.”
In pushing for the MPI, Balisacan cited the Philippine experience, wherein poverty data has defied government efforts – such as the conditional cash transfer program—to improve the lives of the poor.
Despite the country’s above-target economic growth, the number of poor Filipinos hardly changed at a fourth of the population, he said.
But if a more inclusive definition of poverty was used – as was done in a 2011 study – economic growth however has led to the reduction in extreme forms of poverty, Balisacan said.
“This tells me, as a policymaker, that multidimensional poverty measurement is highly relevant and extremely useful for our efforts to substantially reduce poverty in the Philippines and, I believe, elsewhere,” he said.
Balisacan said adopting MPI however would require governments “to invest in good-quality data critical for informing policy decisions and monitoring progress in poverty reduction.”
“We support the call for data revolution. As yet, despite the tremendous improvement in information technology and the international community’s zeal to ‘accelerate MDG progress,’ there is a dearth of data that can be used to measure multidimensional poverty,” he added. (MNS)