Poverty Metrics and the MPAT
Last week, I met with Alasdair Cohen, the lead author of the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool. I wrote about it a while back, so check that out for a general introduction to the MPAT and Nuru.
In preparation for the meeting, I re-read the MPAT User Guide (103 pages) and the MPAT Book (211 pages). I actually find it quite amusing, in a very genuine, down-to-earth way, that the “official” name of the history, process, rationale, and development of this tool is called simply “the MPAT book.” Maybe too much metrics makes one hard up for humor and amusement, but alas.
Anyway, I walked in to my MPAT meeting with lots of questions about why it seems to be the best kept secret this side of the poverty metrics universe. Seriously, I have read and re-read all I can find about the MPAT. I have asked people high and low if they’ve heard of it, what they think about it, and if anyone has any experience with it. I have come up empty-handed every time – from the Global Health Council conference with over 2,000 international health attendees to a World Bank blog discussing the merits of the also recently released Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). Just exactly how and why is the MPI getting all sorts of radio play in the international arena, yet virtually no one has even heard of the MPAT. I even “coerced” a friend and colleague into reading about it, just so I could have someone, with whom I could chat/critique/discuss it. Thanks Tayo (and thanks for a great follow-up blog about it as well)!
Again, I digress. My biggest hang-up about the MPAT was related to what a well-kept secret it seemed to be. Why is no one talking about it? Where is all the MPAT buzz? Is it really not all it’s cracked up to be? Have my analytical skills been swindled by the MPAT “book”?
And so, when meeting with the MPAT’s lead author, I was as honest and direct as I could be in asking those questions. And you know what? Alasdair answered me with the same honest, direct, and transparent nature as is found all throughout the MPAT tool and process. It was both refreshing and right in line with what I thought I understood about the MPAT, its purpose, process, and creators. Everything is open source, nothing is a secret, and everything is extremely well-documented. It’s a humble tool that acknowledges the complexity of poverty in people’s lives. It is new and innovative. It is in the pilot stages and not looking for glory.
Nuru was/is looking for a “standardized” measuring stick for measuring rural poverty holistically. (There’s more buzzwords in that last sentence than you can even shake a standardized measuring stick at, but I hope you get the idea.) Anyone else care to join us on this journey? Anyone care to chat about the MPAT? I’m all ears…