Poverty assessment tool launched at IFAD will measure progress on rural development

Rome, 2 April 2014 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will unveil on 3 April a simple and innovative tool that will change the way rural development can be analysed and measured.

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) is the result of a collaborative, international initiative started in 2008 and led by IFAD. It provides a clear picture of rural poverty’s key dimensions by taking into account the complex realities on the ground. By pointing development partners to areas where support is most needed and by monitoring and measuring the actions and initiatives implemented to improve rural lives and livelihoods, MPAT can facilitate and enhance successful interventions.

“The importance of measuring – and then in turn reacting to – levels of poverty in rural areas should not be overlooked at this critical time as the post-2015 development agenda takes shape,” said Adolfo Brizzi, acting Associate Vice-President. “While at IFAD we finance investments in sustainable agriculture and rural development as key ingredients for poverty eradication, economic growth and food security, we know that success can only be achieved if there is a clear understanding and monitoring of progress and impact.”

Last month, IFAD launched four policy briefs that identified areas of universal resonance, each underpinned by five target areas. These briefs provide a map of areas where action may be inspired by new goals, targets, and indicators adapted to different country circumstances.

Developing rural areas and reducing poverty is a complex undertaking. It requires a combination of different activities, from improved infrastructure, health and sanitation facilities, to capacity building for smallholder farmers and linkages to markets. It is precisely this complexity that MPAT will help to clarify.

Based on household and village surveys, the tool aggregates people's perceptions and opinions into 10 different indicators, which reflect the many interrelated dimensions of rural lives and livelihoods, such as housing, food security and empowerment. Based on this data, MPAT produces a clear picture of the situation in a given household, village, or project. This can then be used to inform all levels of decision-making in development programmes and projects. As a result, MPAT can significantly strengthen the planning, design, monitoring and evaluation of a project, and in doing so can contribute to rural poverty reduction.

Throughout its development, the tool underwent extensive and rigorous field testing in real project and poverty situations in Bangladesh, China, India, and Mozambique, taking into consideration the input from poor rural women and men. The beta version of the tool, which was released in 2010, was productively used by non-governmental organizations, government departments and UN agencies in Africa and other regions.

The tool shines a spotlight on problem areas so that all stakeholders can see where deficiencies lie and can begin to discuss which interventions may be most appropriate based on the local context. The development of MPAT started in 2007 and was primarily funded through the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development grant programme, called the “Initiative for Mainstreaming Innovation”, which supported IFAD to continue its role as a facilitator and promoter of innovation for rural development.

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