Bangladesh, Nepal, Rwanda top India in reducing poverty - study

Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:09am IST

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A man collects empty plastic bottles to be recycled at a factory in a slum in Mumbai March 15, 2013.

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NEW DELHI (AlertNet) - Nepal, Bangladesh and Rwanda are "star performers" in reducing the number of poor in their countries compared to larger economies such as India, according to an Oxford University study published on Monday.

All three could be on track to eradicate poverty in 20 years if they keep up their current rate of progress, the data showed.

The study, based on research in 22 countries, said the three nations had the strongest decreases in poverty as recorded by its Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) which looks at various indicators including health, education and living standards.

"The success of Nepal and Bangladesh in reducing poverty despite their relatively low income highlights the effectiveness of social policy investments combined with active civil society engagement," said Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).

Researchers found Nepal's poor dropped to 44.2 percent of the population in 2011 from 64.7 percent in 2006 - that is 4.1 percentage points per year. While in Bangladesh, poverty rates decreased by 3.2 percentage points per year between 2004 and 2007 and Rwanda by 3.4 annually from 2005 to 2010.

"Countries managed to reduce multidimensional poverty through tackling a range of different deprivations, with no single formula for success emerging from the study," said an OPHI statement.

"Nepal did the best in areas like nutrition, child mortality, electricity, improved flooring and assets. Rwanda showed the biggest improvement in sanitation and water, and Bangladesh did best in improving sanitation and school attendance."

INDIA SLOW ON POVERTY?

The MPI is seen as a more holistic approach to measuring poverty rates than income alone. It is based on 10 indicators such as malnutrition, education and sanitation. If people are deprived in three or more areas, they are identified as "MPI poor".

India, which is home to around 40 percent of the world's one billion people living below the poverty line, cut poverty by an average of only 1.2 percentage points annually between 1999 and 2006, said the study.

Nepal, Rwanda and Bangladesh were followed by Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia and Bolivia. Countries where there had been no statistically significant reduction in poverty were Madagascar, Senegal, Jordan and Peru.

In India, the study said the least progress had been made in the most under developed areas such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal - and among the most marginalised communities such as Muslims, tribals, lower castes and female-headed households.

Even India's best-performing regions - Kerala and Andhra Pradesh - progressed little more than half as fast as Nepal or Bangladesh in reducing multidimensional poverty.

"If Nepal and Bangladesh continue reducing poverty at the current rate, they will halve MPI in less than 10 years and eradicate it in 20," said OPHI research officer José Manuel Roche.

"Based on the same assumptions, it will take India 41 years to eradicate acute poverty as measured by the MPI."

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