In April, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launched a new tool for poverty assessment. The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) aggregates household and village level survey data into 10 indicators related to rural livelihood. These indicators include: food and nutrition security, domestic water supply, healthcare, sanitation, housing, education, farm assets, non-farm assets, exposure to shocks, and social equality. The data gained from the assessment tool will be used to plan interventions and to evaluate ongoing program effectiveness.
While 30 to 40 percent of the indicators are food-related, the initiative makes a concerted effort to avoid singular approaches to alleviating poverty in rural areas. According to Alasdair Cohen, project leader, “MPAT does not try to define rural poverty per se; rather it takes a step back from assessment modalities that are overly focused on economic- and consumption-oriented indicators and strives to provide an overview of fundamental and relatively universal dimensions germane to rural livelihoods, rural life, and thus to rural poverty.”
The beta version of the tool, released in 2010, was tested in Bangladesh, China, India, and Mozambique. In Bangladesh, MPAT was used in the Sunamganj Community-Based Resource Management Project. In Sunamganj, monsoon rains cause flooding for more than six months of the year, hampering the ability of farmers to grow food, access clean water, and maintain adequate shelter. MPAT implementation in the IFAD Sunamganj program afforded the project staff local survey data on food security, water supply, and housing that were not previously available.
In Kenya, Nuru International (NI), a nbsp;MPAT pilot organization, uses the tool to evaluate work efficacy. Using MPAT, the NI Monitoring and Evaluation team “measures the poverty level in year one to assess needs and to provide a baseline, as well as a midpoint and endpoint within a country, to determine social impact.”
The Consultation Report for the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda cites MPAT as an effective designing, benchmarking, and adapting tool for United Nations and IFAD programs. “Successfully eradicating poverty will require that its various components be addressed together. The design of the framework must recognize that ‘the definition of poverty goes beyond income’…. At the individual and household level, all people must have equal and secure access to healthcare, nutritional food, adequate housing, education, energy, decent jobs, and sustainable livelihoods, which are all dependent upon equal and secure access to clean water, arable land, and other natural resources, within healthy ecosystems.”
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