UNICEF, government introduce child poverty measurement approach

UNICEF and the Bangladesh government have jointly introduced ‘multidimensional poverty measurement approach’ complementing the traditional ‘income poverty method’ for catering to evidence-based policy advocacy for children.
UNICEF in conjunction with the General Economic Division (GED) and Planning Commission on Monday kicked off a workshop to share study methodology for measuring Child Multi-Dimensional Poverty Indicators (CMPI) for Bangladesh, a release said.
The aim is to introduce CMPI as official poverty statistics and establish a common language. It is one of the six studies that UNICEF and the Bangladesh government are currently conducting.
The study will enable Bangladesh to measure the progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Moreover, it will also help assess the impact of social protection on children and will complement Bangladesh’s current poverty measures and provide an important source of additional information for public policy.
Child poverty is often looked through income-consumption lens only which is not always adequate as it has different causes and effects.
Evidence also shows that a high GDP per capita is not necessarily directly associated with low levels of child poverty, and likewise a low GDP per capita is not necessarily associated with high levels of child poverty.
For example, malnutrition can also affect health and education which in turn may impact a child’s long-term development.
Thus it is crucial to look beyond traditional methods of measuring poverty based on income or consumption levels, and adopt an approach to seek the multidimensional face of child poverty.
When contacted, World Bank (WB), Dhaka office lead economist Zahid Hussain told the FE that traditionally lower and upper poverty line is measured by monthly income of Tk1862 and Tk 2268 and food and non-food expenditure.
But income-consumption approach of poverty measurement does not clearly tell about the fulfillment of basic needs like nutrition, health, education and sanitation as this type of study is complicated and time-consuming.
He said the living standard of children or some other dimensions like nutrition situation, health and education will be added through this ‘multidimensional poverty measurement approach’.
The noted economist suggested that prioritisation is an important aspect in this study. If children are at the forefront in the process of eradication of poverty, then intergenerational mobility will be ensured, he added.
“It means if the deprivation issues of children are addressed, especially nutrition and education, then there is greater scope that poverty will not continue from one generation to another,” said Mr Hussain, adding: The initiative is proper but it needs prioritisation and continuation.
“The CMPI is an attempt to construct a yardstick to measure Bangladesh’s progress that the government has achieved over the years. It is a timely approach that will help government assess how various policies are affecting people, especially when the country is approaching towards the middle-income era,” said UNICEF Bangladesh representative Edouard Beigbeder.
GED member Shamsul Alam, Bangladesh Bureau (BBS) Director General of Statistics Amir Hossain, renowned academia, research think tanks and development partners attended the workshop.