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UNDP to aid poverty assessment and reduction efforts

GeneralUNDP to aid poverty assessment and reduction efforts

Photo: (l-r) Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO of the Ministry of Economic Development and Kishan Khoday, the UNDP Representative in Belize, signing agreement

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Feb. 20, 2024

Belize is stepping up its fight against poverty through a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), and the Ministry of Economic Development.

The collaboration aims to improve the country’s ability to assess and address poverty, aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 1 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The agreement, signed on February 19, commits to the development and implementation of an annual Monetary Poverty Measure (MPM) and further enhancement of the national Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) statistics program.

This support will enable Belize to better evaluate poverty and make informed policy decisions to combat it effectively.

Historically, Belize conducted poverty censuses every ten years. However, under the current administration’s #PlanBelize Medium-Term Development Strategy 2022-2026, poverty reduction has become a top priority.

Conducting poverty assessments annually will, therefore, provide the necessary data to identify and address economic and health issues underlying high poverty rates.

“We want to know exactly where the population that is considered poor live, and where they are, and what is their deprivation. So, you see access to water, health, living conditions, unemployment, whatever it is, we want to know,” stated Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO of the Ministry of Economic Development.

The partnership focuses on several key areas to achieve its objectives:

  1. Participation in the SIB’s annual Data Users Forum to discuss data needs and challenges related to poverty measurement and analysis;
  2. Capacity-building sessions among key ministries to effectively use data for policy development;
  3. Developing an expanded income module for the SIB’s Labour Force Survey (LFS) to enhance poverty measurement methodologies;
  4. Producing a final report describing the design of the MPM and an in-depth analysis of the results obtained;
  5. Analyzing the LFS and its contribution to measuring poverty.

The collaboration with UNDP adds Belize to the list of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean implementing a national MPI, allowing Belize to track poverty annually, providing a more comprehensive understanding of poverty beyond monetary terms.

“Through this cooperation, we try to advance the use of the multidimensional poverty index, which Belize is taking on board, to really look at the broader nature of assets and capacities that can be built to reduce the social vulnerability of the poorest of the poor across Belize,” shared Kishan Khoday, the UNDP Representative in Belize.

“We started late last year with the capacity building, with the support of the development and the expansion of our labor force survey questionnaire. We’re actually piloting that expanded questionnaire this week, so the support has already started,” added Diana Castillo Trejo, Director General of the Statistical Institute of Belize.

The funds allocated for this partnership totaled 130,000 Belize dollars, which is expected to yield positive results, contributing to Belize’s efforts to eradicate poverty by 2030.

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