About 6 percent of Bhutanese are multidimensionally poor this year, a decrease from 12 percent in 2012, according to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2017.
The report stated that among indicators belonging to the dimension of living standards, there was a large improvement in cooking fuel and sanitation between 2012 and 2017. The cooking fuel declined from 9.8 percent to 3.8 percent, and deprivation in sanitation dropped from 6.2 percent to 1.8 percent.
The Bhutan MPI monitors 13 indicators – food security, low education and inadequate sanitation, distributed across three dimensions. Bhutan’s MPI was based on the data from the Bhutan Living Standard Survey (BLSS) 2017.
Although the child mortality fell significantly, the report stated that pace of reduction was slower than most other indicators because there was no information available in the BLSS on when the child died.
“There are also important reductions in other indicators such as electricity (-4.2%) and road access (-3.7%),” the report stated. “Years of schooling were the indicator that contributed the most to poverty (30.2% and 31.9%) in both the years.”
According the report, sanitation and cooking fuel witnessed the largest absolute improvements (-13.5 and -13.4% points) respectively, followed by electricity (-8.4) and road access (-5.4).
On the other hand, deprivations in livestock ownership worsened between 2012 and 2017, which the report stated was probably due to livelihood adjustments among the non-poor in rural areas and also because of rural-urban migration.
“In 2017 the indicators that contribute the least to the MPI are access to a clean source of water, asset ownership, and access to electricity (each with a contribution below 1%),” the report stated. “In terms of dimensions, education contributes the most to overall poverty (around 40%) for both years, while health increased its contribution to overall poverty in 2017, moving from 24 percent to almost 35 percent.”
Thimphu, where 17 percent of the population lives, had multidimensional poverty rate of 2.6 percent in 2017. Gasa, which is home to a little over 0.4 percent of the country’s population, 29 percent of are poor.
“This progress occurred during the 10th and 11th plans, which prioritised poverty reduction,” the report stated. “The primary reason is that among the multidimensional poor people in Bhutan, 58 percent of them are deprived in less than 5/13 of the weighted indicators, and 89 percent are deprived in less than 6/13 of the weighted indicators.”
The report suggests that further rapid progress is still feasible.
Yangchen C Rinzin