Historically, poverty levels have been defined by income-based measures and indexes throughout most of the world. Recently, some countries in the region have sought to innovate through measurements of poverty that go beyond income, as to analyze other types of deprivations and to design more comprehensive public policies and programs to combat poverty. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), as this type of measurement is known, is a practice of regional interest that was the center of the workshop coordinated by the OAS-SEDI Inter-American Social Protection Network (IASPN), September 17 to 19 in Colombia.
Colombia, one of the region’s most advanced countries in the implementation of an MPI, has been working with the OAS to share its model, experience and lessons learned with its peers in the region. To this end and in collaboration with the Department for Social Prosperity (DPS) of Colombia and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), the workshop "Colombia’s Multidimensional Poverty Index: from a multidimensional concept to a multisectoral public policy" was held, providing a space for representatives of social protection national agencies interested in designing and implementing an MPI, and allowing them to learn -firsthand and with a practical approach- about the progress and challenges of implementing this poverty measuring technique.
This is the second activity focused on multidimensional poverty measurements undertaken by the IASPN. The results of the first activity are reflected in the publication "Multidimensional Poverty Index: Sharing Experiences and Launching a Regional Discussion", which collects and analyzes progress made in this field and has been broadly disseminated by the community of practice on social protection. This second workshop responds to the need expressed by countries to deepen their understanding of Colombia’s experience.
The workshop included a visit to the offices of the Department for Social Prosperity (DPS), where Colombian officials presented the new application "Social Map". The system, which will be available to the public in the coming months, is an interactive map of the country that enables users to search information on the various programs being implemented and may be filtered by subject, region, size, and type of population, among other criteria.
A field visit to Fusagasugá (south of Bogotá), provided an opportunity for each participant to be a "Co-manager for a day" and visit families that are benefiting from the many poverty eradication programs being implemented by the Colombian government based on the results of its MPI. "Sometimes we become so concerned about technical aspects and about drafting policies that we lose focus - which should always be the people for whom we are designing these policies. This is an excellent grounding experience that reorients our work and reminds us about the importance of generating a sensible change for people in poverty, "Jimmy Vasquez, Specialist UNDP El Salvador said.
The international delegation also visited the offices of the National Department of Statistics (DANE), where they learned how information is computed to measure the MPI in Colombia. The visit provided insights for participants into the technical aspects behind creating an MPI in their countries. Matilde M. Chavez Bonetti, Director General of the System of Beneficiaries (SIUBEN) of the Dominican Republic stressed that the practical session served as an "excellent guideline for our implementation."
Following the OAS-SEDI partnership for development model, which emphasizes collaboration between countries in the region, and to the extent that countries continue to seek to modernize their poverty measuring techniques to better serve their population in situations of vulnerability - the IASPN will remain a timely platform to facilitate this kind of technical exchanges.