Multidimensional Poverty Index adopted as a SDG Target Indicator

OPHI Director Sabina Alkire reports on progress made at the Bangkok meeting of the UN’s Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals

The Inter Agency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators met for the second time in Bangkok, 26-28 October 2015. The purpose was to move towards the selection of the indicators that will be used and reported at a global level to track progress towards meeting the global goals. The animated and invigorating exchanges were wonderfully co-chaired by Dr Lisa Bersales (Philippines) and Dr Enrique Ordaz (Mexico).

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What can the private sector offer Indian education?

by Abhijeet Singh,Young Lives Research Officer

(An edited version of this blog was first published on Ideas 4 India on 28 October 2015)


Few things in education policy in developing countries are more contentious than what the role of the private sector should be. Much of the dispute comes from contrasting opinions about the nature of private schools as they exist today: should we think of them as offering a substantial route for actually delivering quality education for many millions of children, especially in the face of severely underperforming government schools? Or should we think of them as essentially thriving on ‘cream-skimming’ students from more privileged backgrounds, deepening social and economic divides but adding little in terms of actual skills and education. These are empirical questions. Here, I present some evidence, both from my own research and others’, that speaks to these issues directly in the Indian context. More importantly, I discuss the avenues which current research hasn’t focused on but which are critical for understanding how the private sector may best be leveraged in India.

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Una Nueva Ola de Países están Cambiando la Manera en que Miden la Pobreza

John Hammock, Co-Fundador, Oxford Poverty and Human Development InitiativeJohnHammock-for-web

Ser pobre es ser pobre—independiente de la política, ideología, estadísticas y donantes. Los pobres sufren, no importa si viven en economías grandes o pequeñas, en estados poderosos o fracasados. Los más pobres tienen múltiples carencias al mismo tiempo—de un ingreso bajo a la falta de educación, vivienda inadecuada, mala salud, sin acceso a agua potable, alcantarillado—la lista de privaciones es larga, demasiada larga.

La perspectiva de los pobres muchas veces no se asemeja a las opiniones de expertos, de burócratas internacionales o de los que diseñan políticas públicas. Claro está que ser pobre significa no tener dinero—ingresos, ahorros, patrimonio. Pero desde las favelas, los tugurios, o de las aldea olvidadas en el campo, la pobreza es mucho, mucho más. El ingreso por sí solo no hace desaparecer la realidad sofocante que son las carencias enfrentadas todos los días por los que viven en pobreza.

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Why a New Wave of Countries are Changing the Way they Measure Poverty

By John Hammock, Co-Founder and Director of Outreach, Oxford Poverty and Human Development InitiativeJohnHammock-for-web

Poverty is poverty—regardless of politics, ideology, statistics and donors; people in poverty suffer regardless of whether they live in big economies, small economies, world-important economies, strong states or failed states. Those who are the poorest of the poor are deprived in multiple ways at the same time—from a lack of income to a lack of schooling, inadequate housing, bad health, no access to drinking water, poor sanitation…the list of deprivations for many is long, too long.

The view from the bottom often does not match the view of experts, national and international bureaucrats and policy makers. Clearly poverty is about having a lack of money—income, savings, assets. But from the favela, slum or from the forgotten rural village, poverty is much, much more—and income by itself cannot get rid of the grinding realities of deprivations faced daily.

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Citizenship, Violence, and Youth in Brazil: Reducing the Legal Age of Criminal Responsibility

Sociology of citizenshipBy Rosana Pinheiro-Machado and Lucia Scalco

In Brazil, there has been a perennial debate about reducing the legal age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years. Congress has recently approved a legal amendment that aims to put this into practice. According to a recent survey carried out by Datafolha, 87 per cent of the population supports the measure and believe it is the only way to address urban violence. There is a general understanding that young people commit crimes because they believe that they will go unpunished.

In the social sciences, at least since Michel Foucault, there have been many academic arguments that support the opposite idea: that imprisonment does not solve the problem of urban violence. Continue reading

Refugee Crisis: Syria’s Religious Minorities Must Not Be Overlooked

khatereh egdamianBy Kat Eghdamian

As hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees continue to flee their homeland, there is a tendency to view all Syrian refugees as a homogeneous entity. They are not. Many stories are being told, but many more remain untold – and that’s particularly true when it comes to refugees’ religious identity.

As in any crisis, numbers matter. According to the United Nations, more than 7m Syrians are internally displaced; another 4m have fled to neighbouring countries, while more than 348,000 have made the arduous journey further abroad as far as Europe and Australasia.

These numbers are staggering, but they don’t help us understand why the refugees are fleeing in the first place. And some have very different experiences than others.

Among the millions of refugees, there are Christian, Druze, Ismaili and other Muslim and non-Muslim minority religious people and families fleeing Syria, and persecution is following them.

Despite lofty humanitarian ideals of religious neutrality, these people are suffering extreme persecution including religious and ethnic cleansing. And that raises the question of whether they need a specific humanitarian response. Continue reading

Will the SDGs Advance Progress for Disadvantaged Children?

By Paul Dornan

Paul-DornanThe end of the week sees the meeting to agree the Sustainable Development Goals. Don’t expect too many surprises; the document to be signed off has already been published. There are 17 proposed goals, with 169 targets. The good news is the impressive scope; the bad news is the impressive scope. The proposed goals cover new and important areas, and adopt new approaches, but the sheer number risks people picking and choosing between myriad targets. Pinning accountability for delivery, including through the development of national plans, is going to be the challenge.

So watch out for press coverage, and an overheated blogosphere over the next few days.  Over the next few months, and indeed years, many discussions will flesh out what the SDGs will really mean in practice. With that implementation question in mind, a couple of reflections. Continue reading

Income and Multidimensional Poverty – Fighting poverty in all its dimensions

By Sabina Alkire

The way we define poverty has changed. At the Sustainable Development Summit on 25-27 September 2015, the UN will formally adopt a new sustainable development agenda that will include a goal to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. The new goals officially recognise that poverty is more than a lack of money. This is a significant turning point that brings us closer to understanding the true extent of poverty – and a crucial step towards fighting it.

With 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) finalised, attention will now turn to how they will be measured, and how to use new measures to improve governance.  And fortunately governments have some experience on how this can be done.

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Beyond Political Violence in Burundi: An Economy in Crisis

Jean-Benoit FalisseBy Jean-Benoit Falisse

Burundi may have slipped from the world’s attention, but the crisis that erupted last May when President Nkurunziza announced that he would seek a third term is far from being resolved. Most commentators have, rightfully, discussed the political aspects of the crisis, including whether Mr Nkurunziza’s third mandate is constitutional, the lack of coherence of the political opposition, the political violence and assassinations, and the mounting tensions with Rwanda. Often overlooked, however, is the economy, which is central to understanding both the backdrop to, and developments in, the most severe crisis Burundi has experienced since the end of the 1993-2005 civil war. While acknowledging the crucial political dimension of the crisis, in this short piece I focus on the economic situation and its consequences. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Patronage as Politics in South Asia’ by Anastasia Piliavsky (ed)

Sociology of citizenshipBy Asha Amirali

In March, Uday Chandra of the Max Planck Institute reviewed ‘Patronage in Politics in South Asia’ for this blog. Here, ODID DPhil student Asha Amirali responds with her own analysis of the book’s arguments.

It is true, as Anastasia Piliavsky points out in her superb introduction, that patronage has long been treated as a distasteful element of developing societies. Personalised exchange between social unequals has been viewed as either a perversion of liberalism’s central tenets of equality and freedom of choice or as a screen concealing exploitation. Quid pro quo electoral exchanges, in which votes are bartered for particular services rendered, are considered ‘bad’ democratic practice. And of course, the use of public power for private gain is unequivocally condemned as corruption. Continue reading