Street children in Addis Ababa

Many Ethiopians ‘Multidimensionally Poor’: UN

  • Over 90% of Ethiopian children under the age of ten classified as poor 

ADDIS ABEBA – Despite a decade long economic growth, the largest number of Ethiopians are still living in multidimensional poverty, a new United Nations report says.

Their number is one of the biggest in the world after India and Nigeria, according to the 2019 global Multidimensional poverty index (MPI).

The report was released on Thursday by the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).

Worldwide, the report says 1.3 billion people are “multidimensionally poor”, which means that poverty is defined not simply by income, but also by other indicators, such as poor health, poor quality of work, and standard of living.

The report identifies 10 countries, with a combined population of around 2 billion people, to illustrate the level of poverty reduction.

These are Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, and Vietnam.

All of them have shown statistically significant progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1, namely ending poverty in all “its forms, everywhere”.

The report said that within these 10 countries, data shows that 270 million people moved out of multidimensional poverty from one survey to the next.

“This progress was largely driven by South Asia,” says the report. It also claims Ethiopia too has witnessed an improvement in its index.

“One of the largest absolute declines compared from its starting point MPI, with improvements seen in all ten of the indicators that make up the index,” it says.

Those in the bottom twenty percent of the country’s population also saw the most decrease in their state of deprivation, the report claims.

Still a challenge

Despite the progress, the nation “is still facing major challenges and has one of the largest numbers of people living in multidimensional poverty” after India and Nigeria, the report finds.

Ethiopia’s rapid population growth is exacerbating the situation and holding back the country’s progress on MPI.

Multidimensional poverty remains higher in rural than urban areas, according to the index.

The MPI indicates an “issue of grave concern” is the fact that multidimensional poverty is falling faster for adults as compared to children.

Over 90% of Ethiopian children under the age of ten classified as multidimensionally poor, according to the UN report.

“Economic growth is important”, Turhan Saleh, UNDP Ethiopia Resident Representative said, highlighting Ethiopia’s investments in the social sector over a number of years showing dividends in MPI progress.

“But when we look at the figures we can see that investment in people, especially children, continues to be a matter of high priority if we work to tackle multidimensional poverty,” he said.

Caption: street children in Addis Abeba (Photo File/AFP)