A Plan to End All Poverty

The UN annual meeting for the follow-up of the Sustainable Development Goals will focus on progress in eradicating poverty and hunger

by Alejandra Agudo

Text below has been translated from Spanish.

Living on less than $ 1.90 a day means being extremely poor. It is the reality of 767 million people in the world, according to the latest followup report on the Sustainable Development Goals . The international agenda approved in 2015 has to eradicate this situation by 2030. Although there is no simple solution to poverty, knowing that there are people out there donating to a philanthropy organization and raising money shows that there are people in the world that care.

However, to enter more than this amount does not mean to stop suffering deprivation. Exceeding a certain level of monetary resources does not ensure access to drinking water or a toilet, nor does it reduce the possibility of dying in childbirth due to lack of qualified medical attention or suffering from malnutrition. These types of variables are those measured by the Multidimensional Poverty Index created by Professor Sabina Alkire ,

Have the countries put to work? On Monday, the High-level Political Forum began, in which 44 countries will voluntarily submit their progress reports, with special emphasis on the fight against poverty and hunger. That will happen next week after five days of sessions in which States, NGOs and UN members will share experiences and knowledge more generally. “Poverty remains one of the greatest challenges of our time. Therefore, this year’s theme is a very pertinent approach if we are to make our deliberations truly relevant and have a positive impact on people’s lives,” he said. Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in his inaugural address.

The first day addressed precisely the need to address all poverty, that measured by income and that has to do with other deprivation. The latter is the one that measures the index created by the Alkire team, mainly related to the lack of access to services and rights in education, health and social protection. And there are many more so-called multidimensional poor, who suffer from various shortcomings than those who live on less than $ 1.90 a day or below national poverty thresholds. In the case of Chile such disparity is observed. As the representative of the Latin American country explained to the public, low-income poverty affects 4.5% of the population. Nevertheless,

Reaching that result involves a collection effort for which many countries are not prepared. “First you have to select the indicators for your context and then go door to door,” Alkire summed up. Alkire added: “Measurement is not the answer to poverty, but action. We can not stop and think that by measuring poverty, we can not stop and think that by measuring poverty Multidimensional will solve the problem.The solution has to do with decision making, with commitment.All countries that use the IPM demonstrate their desire not to leave anyone behind.

In Chile, low-income poverty affects 4.5% of the population. However, surveys conducted after introducing the Multidimensional Poverty Index (IPM) showed a much higher figure: 20.9% are poor in one way or another

This is the case of Colombia. Claudia Vásquez Marazzani, director of Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that her country decided to introduce multidimensional poverty measurement to “focus national plans”. “For people to stop being poor we not only need resources, but employment, decent housing, education …”, deepened. On the screen was showing slides of his alert system of each of the 75 indicators, from the degree of illiteracy in the homes to the materials with which the houses are built, which are monitored through the census. “This has been the most effective tool for state decisions. In the last six years we have seen a positive progression in terms of lifting people out of poverty,” he said. The results published in March of 2016 by the National Administrative Department of Statistics corroborate it. “Multidimensional poverty in Colombia has maintained a declining trend since 2010, from 30.4% at the beginning of the decade to 17.8% in 2016,” says the agency.

The Multidimensional Poverty Index, also known as the Alkire Foster Method, allows us to reach such a degree of precision that we can know how many people are poor and how strong they are (if they suffer few or many deprivations), Alkire explained. It even reflects the places where those affected are concentrated. Here too the example of Colombia. “We have detected gaps between the urban and rural worlds,” Vásquez said. So much so that in 2016 37.6% of the rural population entered the statistics as opposed to 12.1% of the residents in cities. However, it is less than what was registered in 2010, 53.1%.

Anthony Lake, Unicef’s executive director, noted that measuring poverty alone with monetary parameters leaves children out of the picture and especially those not living in extremely poor countries. Something that does not happen with this new complementary method provided that the surveys to the homes take into account to the smaller ones of house. “Poverty disproportionately affects children, and every right denied is a tragedy for the child, for his family and for the future,” he said.

Measurement is not the answer to poverty, but action. The solution has to do with decision-making, with the commitment.


Money entering a home does not show whether babies are born in clinics under medical supervision that will improve their chances of survival, have healthy parents to care for them, go to school when they are older, have light at home to Study when the sun falls. Although their share of family income was above the poverty line, they would still be at risk in such cases. Many of these variables are, in turn, challenges already set in the Sustainable Development Objectives, so that the measurement and subsequent actions against multidimensional poverty are, in fact, addressing much of the agenda.

Laura Stachel, gynecologist, director and co-founder of the NGO WeCareSolar,went down from theory to reality, which means suffering from shortcomings. Its organization is dedicated to the provision of a solar system “that fits in a suitcase literally” for clinics without access to it. With the image that opens this background article, which sees a nurse guarding a maternity ward with a kerosene lamp as the only lighting in the dark, Stachel reported the impression that caused him the first time he ran out of light During an intervention in northern Nigeria in 2008, as in photography. “The comrades who were there did not seem strange!” He recalled with vividness.

The cuts were so common that the local staff was accustomed, but it seemed to her that it was unacceptable for the children to be born in such conditions and for the women to run the risk of dying during childbirth. And created a solution: together with her husband, a renewable energy expert, invented a suitcase with solar panels to provide electricity to health centers. At the outset, he distributed his ingenuity only in Nigeria, today he carries an improved design of his kit to 27 countries. The gynecologist knows from experience that her invention has an impact on the reduction of maternal mortality in the world – about 830 women die each year from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, 99% from developing countries, according to World Health Organization. “

Stachel acknowledged, however, that he has difficulty finding clinics with problems accessing electricity. “It has been difficult for us to find data from health centers with the greatest needs, so I am looking forward to what the Multidimensional Poverty Index can offer us in this regard,” he said. While access to electricity is one of the goals of the Sustainable Development Goals, in addition to one of the common indicators of multidimensional poverty measurement, there is still a lack of reliable and concrete information on lack of access.

“There are those who say that if the rulers spent so much on helping the poor as on studying them, many would not be,” joked the moderator of the debate Vikas Swarup, India’s high representative in Canada and author of Q & A , a film adaptation such as Slumdog Millionaire. But he added , recapitulating an idea shared by many of the participants: “What is measured is done.” “We have a plan, the ODS, and we have the tool, the index of multidimensional poverty, and let’s finish what we have started.”

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