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Where do Bangladeshs New Poor Fit in? — Global Issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed 71-100 million people into extreme poverty, giving rise to the “new poor” who were above the poverty line pre-pandemic but fell below during it, according to the World Bank. This has made identifying vulnerabilities for development assistance exponentially more difficult, yet necessary. Traditional income-based poverty measures may not accurately identify vulnerabilities of those affected by the pandemic-related crises. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which captures deprivations in non-monetary dimensions of wellbeing, utilizing indicators to calculate poverty levels for a particular population, may be a helpful tool to identify vulnerabilities. The UNDP Bangladesh country office analyzed the data from its poverty reduction program, which employs the MPI metric to identify deprivation levels of beneficiaries. A recent UNDP Development Futures Series brief compared the before-and-during COVID MPI figures of the beneficiary group with two other household categories – MPI-poor non-grantee households, and vulnerable MPI non-poor households. Findings suggest that conventional MPI approaches may overlook specific needs of vulnerable communities. Cash support during emergencies may help vulnerable households improve living conditions in the immediate term. However, policies must not overlook specific needs of vulnerable communities. Due to the pandemic, context-specific MPI indices that can be updated in real-time may be better suited to identify beneficiaries and discern the nature of relief needed more appropriately. The pandemic has led to further marginalization of already vulnerable populations and countries. Therefore, dynamic data collection, comprehensive analyses of vulnerabilities, and targeted interventions are necessary to leave no one behind and achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

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