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Stark Inequalities Among Poor Ethnic Groups: UNDP

  • An Afghan child plays at a displaced person camp in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of Balkh province, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2021.

    An Afghan child plays at a displaced person camp in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of Balkh province, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2021. | Photo: Kawa Basharat/Xinhua

Published 7 October 2021

A multidimensional global poverty index shows more significant inequalities among ethnic, caste and gender groups than among geographical groups, the UN Development Program (UNDP) said on Thursday.

The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), produced by the UNDP and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, measures the composition of the poor in 109 countries covering 5.9 billion people, about 92 percent of the developing world's population.

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For the first time, the 2021 Index examines the correlations between poverty and ethnicity and race, caste and gender, the UNDP said. Besides income, it studied how the impoverished suffer from poor health, insufficient education and a low standard of living.
In some cases, disparities across ethnic and racial groups are more remarkable than across regions within the same country, the report said. Differences in this kind of poverty across ethnic and racial groups are more significant than disparities across subnational geographical groups.
Understanding the multidimensional nature of poverty can help to design a more resilient recovery that leaves no one behind, the UNDP said.
"This year's Multidimensional Poverty Index reminds us of the need for a complete picture of how people are being affected by poverty, who they are and where they live, if we are to build forward better from this crisis and design effective responses that leave no one behind," said Achim Steiner, UNDP administrator.
Out of the 109 countries studied, 1.3 billion people were multidimensionally poor, UNDP said. About half of them, 644 million, are children under age 18; and nearly 85 percent live in Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia. More than 67 percent live in middle-income countries.
Being multidimensionally poor can mean very different things in different circumstances, said the UNDP.
Around 1 billion people, for example, are exposed to health risks due to solid cooking fuels, another billion live with inadequate sanitation and another billion have substandard housing. Around 788 million people live in a household with at least one undernourished person, and about 568 million lack improved drinking water within a 30-minute roundtrip walk.
The UNDP said in another example, that in Bolivia, indigenous communities account for about 44 percent of the population but represent 75 percent of multidimensionally poor people. The figures are also notable in India, where five out of six multidimensionally poor people were from lower tribes or castes.

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