About 67 million people (41.7 percent of the population) in Bangladesh experience multidimensional poverty, according to the latest Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).
Among the eight SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries, only war-torn Afghanistan fared worse than Bangladesh as 56 percent of the Afghans experience this state of poverty. All the other countries were found to be doing better than Bangladesh.
In India, the percentage is 27.9 percent, while the Maldives was found to have the lowest number of population (0.8 percent) experiencing multidimensional poverty in South Asia.
Multidimensional poverty encompasses the various deprivations experienced by poor people in their daily lives – such as poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standards, disempowerment, poor quality of work, threat of violence, and living in areas that are environmentally hazardous, among others.
The MPI was developed by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). The 2019 MPI report was released on Thursday.
The 2019 Global MPI paints a detailed picture of poverty for 101 countries (31 low-income, 68 middle-income and two high-income) and 1,119 subnational regions covering 76 percent of the global population. It is based on 10 indicators, including nutrition, child mortality, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation and electricity.
Across the countries studied, 1.3 billion people (23.1 percent) are multi-dimensionally poor while two-thirds of them live in middle-income countries, the report said.
It said children suffer poverty more intensely than adults in South Asia. Half of the poor are children under 18 and a third are under 10.
Child poverty fell markedly faster than adult poverty in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Haiti, India and Peru. But children fell further behind in Ethiopia, and their progress—together with that of adults—stalled in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan.
There is even inequality under the same roof. In South Asia, for example, almost a quarter of children under five live in households where at least one child in the household is malnourished but at least one is not.
The report underscored that the traditional concept of poverty is outdated, demonstrating more clearly than ever that labelling countries - or even households - as rich and poor is an oversimplification.
Key findings of the report
• Across 101 countries, 1.3 billion people (23.1 percent) are multi-dimensionally poor.
• Two-thirds of multi-dimensionally poor people live in middle-income countries.
• Half of the 1.3 billion multi-dimensionally poor people are children under 18. A third are children under 10.
• This year’s spotlight on child poverty in South Asia reveals considerable diversity. 10.7 percent of South Asian girls are out of school and live in a multi-dimensionally poor household, but that average hides variation. In Afghanistan, it is 44 percent.
• In South Asia, 22.7 percent of children under the age of 5 experience intra-household inequality in deprivation of nutrition. In Pakistan, over a third of children under 5 experience such inequality.