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The UN says lifting 100 million people out of poverty by 2025 is still possible despite a recession threat.

A UN poverty study released on Monday shows that significant poverty reduction is possible, and new ways of calculating the problem can help humanitarians and governments better target aid.

The report was released to commemorate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, celebrated annually on October 17.

The report, ‘The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)’, reveals that significant poverty reduction is possible, and new ways of calculating the problem could help humanitarians and governments better target aid.

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MPI was jointly analysed by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford.

The report goes beyond measuring poverty as a measurement of poverty and looks at other indicators, from access to education and health to living standards such as housing, drinking water, sanitation and electricity. 

Using this way of calculating the issue, the study shows that, even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis, some 1.2 billion people in 111 developing countries are living in acute multidimensional poverty – nearly double the number who are seen as poor when poverty is defined as living on less than $1.90 per day.

Because there are different aspects of poverty in different regions, the study urged developing strategies to tackle the issue tailored to specific countries and regions.

It also identified recurring patterns of poverty (‘deprivation bundles’) that commonly affect those at risk. For example, more than half of those living in poverty lack both electricity and clean cooking fuel, whilst a third are deprived of nutrition, cooking fuel, sanitation and housing at the same time.

For example, the experience of families in Lao PDR shows the interconnected nature of living in poverty and the complexity of reducing it. Children are sent to collect firewood due to a lack of cooking fuel, so they cannot go to school. Simply providing funds to build a school would make no sense without first fixing the fuel problem.

Despite the scale of the challenge, significant improvements have been made in reducing poverty.

Reacting to the findings, UNDP head Achim Steiner said at a time government budgets are being squeezed, cutting-edge data and analytics could pinpoint the areas where spending will have the most impact.

He said the report showed that “decarbonisation and expanding access to clean energies will advance climate action, and is also critical for nearly 600 million multidimensionally poor people who still lack access to electricity and clean cooking fuel.”

Before the pandemic hit, 72 countries had significantly reduced poverty. Yet the report anticipates that some of the efforts to end poverty in line with Sustainable Development Goals are likely to have been derailed due to recent overlapping crises.

(NAN)

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