Dr Sabina Alkire is the director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), an economic research centre within the Oxford Department of International Development. She is a professor in International Affairs at the George Washington University and is a fellow of the Human Development and Capability Association. With fellow economist James Foster, she developed the Alkire-Foster Method, which measures multidimensional poverty by considering a range of deprivations associated with poverty which are aggregated to reflect societal poverty. In the seven years since its adaptation the multidimensional poverty indicator (MPI) has been adopted the United Nations Development Programme and several national governments, notably that of Bhutan.
In this lucid interview, Sabina outlines the MPI and stresses that effective measurements are crucial to the eradication of poverty. She describes the benefits of using a multidimensional approach which considers deprivations associated with poverty, such as lack of access to adequate education, healthcare and employment. While the MPI compliments conventional measures, Sabina emphasises how it is more sensitive to immediate gains, such as improvements in education enrolment rates, which monetary measures are slow to account for. Furthermore, the MPI demonstrates that solving poverty requires multifaceted strategies and collaboration; a growing global trend that is perhaps epitomised by the SDGs. Sabina also discusses the practical implementation of the MPI and provides some positive insights into the Gross National Happiness index of Bhutan. Finally, she finishes by describing the future of the MPI, particularly efforts around child poverty measures.