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MPI for Gambia decreased to 0.29 in 2013: UNDP report

May 18, 2015, 12:07 PM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

A study has found that the multidimensional poverty index (MPI) for The Gambia has decreased from 0.32 in 2006 to 0.29 in 2013, according to UNDP final report on the Multidimensional Poverty and Inclusive Growth in The Gambia.

“The multidimensional poverty headcount and intensity of deprivation have also decreased from 60.4 per cent to 57 per cent and from 53.6 per cent to 51 per cent respectively,” the report also stated.

The improvement made over this period at the national level, though to be commended, masked a disturbing truth that growth has been pro-poor for the urban areas.

The benefits of growth over the past 25 years have been disproportionately skewed towards the urban areas, leaving behind the rural areas, the report added.

Similar to the results of the integrated household survey 2010, the results of the MPI show that 79 per cent of rural households are multidimensional poor, as opposed to 29.4 per cent for the urban areas.

The poverty gap is wider when it comes to intensity of deprivations, the report stated.

The average intensity of deprivation for urban household is 44 per cent, compared to 53 per cent for rural households.

Education for the household head and members reduced the likelihood of a household being poor.

“The ages of the household head along with marital status are not important determinants of poverty at the household level, the report says.

It added that growth in The Gambia “has been erratic for the past 25 years”, with the country experiencing more recessions than its neighbours, Senegal, and the continent as a whole.

It also stated: “Erratic growth is not conducive to poverty reduction; not pro poor. Stable growth is the key to reducing poverty in The Gambia.

“There is a need to reduce policy slippages that could negatively impact growth in The Gambia, if growth is to be inclusive.”

Furthermore, the decomposition of growth shows that in a short run growth in The Gambia was anchored on increased opportunity in employment mainly in the service sector, and increase in productivity.

In both cases, there is significant opportunity to make growth inclusive, the report said, adding that the accepted belief that agriculture employs over 70 per cent of the population should be laid to rest.

The results of the labour forces survey 2012 show that there has been a significant shift over the past decade regarding labour in The Gambia.

Agriculture now employs about 31 per cent of the population with service now taking up more than 50 per cent of the employed in agriculture to current employment, almost half of those between 15 and 30 currently employed in agriculture say they would prefer to work in wholesale/retail trade.

The decreased willingness to work in agriculture, coupled with the low wages and productivity in the sector, pose a grave threat to the existence of this sector, the report notes.

It stated that the quantity of rains have reduced the output levels that were achieved in the past, and has further put a dent on the prospects of the sector.

An analysis of human development situation also showed that although significant progress had been made in the area of enrolment at the primary level and closing the gender gap, “significant inefficiencies remained” within the education system.

“For every 100 students at Grade 1, at most 42 would take the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and only 2 would pass or obtain 5 credits including mathematics and English,” the report stated.

Poverty is one of the most widely discussed and studied topics in the last 14 years, the UN report stated.

“This is not surprising given that more than 1.2 billion people i.e. 15 per cent of the world population is currently living on less than $1.25 a day, according to World Bank 2014.”

“90 per cent of these people live in either Asia or sub-Saharan Africa,” the UNDP report noted.

It added that the method of determining whether an individual is poor using a monetary measure is one of many methods used to measure poverty level.

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