Nepal’s poverty decreasing faster than in India: Oxford University study

KATHMANDU: Nepal is a star performer in reducing the number of poor compared to larger economies such as India, according to an Oxford University study published on Monday. South Asian nation Bangladesh and Rwanda are also in the same list.

All three could be on track to eradicate poverty in 20 years if they keep up their current rate of progress, according to the study. The study, based on research in 22 countries, said the three nations had the strongest decreases in poverty as recorded by its Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) which looks at various indicators including health, education and living standards.

“The success of Nepal and Bangladesh in reducing poverty despite their relatively low income highlights the effectiveness of social policy investments combined with active civil society engagement,” said Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).

“Countries managed to reduce multidimensional poverty through tackling a range of different deprivations, with no single formula for success emerging from the study,” said an OPHI statement.

“Nepal did the best in areas like nutrition, child mortality, electricity, improved flooring and assets. Rwanda showed the biggest improvement in sanitation and water, and Bangladesh did best in improving sanitation and school attendance.”

India, which is home to around 40 percent of the world’s one billion people living below the poverty line, cut poverty by an average of only 1.2 percentage points annually between 1999 and 2006, said the study.

In India, the study said the least progress had been made in the most under developed areas such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal – and among the most marginalised communities such as Muslims, tribals, lower castes and female-headed households.

Even India’s best-performing regions – Kerala and Andhra Pradesh – progressed little more than half as fast as Nepal or Bangladesh in reducing multidimensional poverty.