Skip navigation

Extreme poverty: building evidence for effective action

…
Contact

Extreme poverty – building evidence for effective action, is a seven year cross-country research programme generating high quality evidence on what works and providing new insights into who is poor and what is driving extreme poverty, to support the design and implementation of effective policies, programmes and strategies to tackle extreme poverty.

Research under the programme is organised into three themes:
  1. Identifying and testing better poverty measures for a changing world.
  2. Investigating poverty trends and drivers to 2030, identifying trends and drivers that may serve to perpetuate or reduce extreme poverty over the next ten years.
  3. Explaining what works to tackle extreme poverty through undertaking, amongst other types of research, a series of impact and operational evaluations.

The focus of our research is on Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria and Tanzania.

The consortium is led by OPM and is in partnership with Cornell University’s Charles H Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, the Development Economics Research Group (DERG) at the University of Copenhagen, and the University of Southampton.

The Challenge

The last 30 years has seen unprecedented global progress in extreme poverty reduction;between 1990 and 2015, the number of people living in extreme poverty fell from 1.9 billion to 736 million – so achieving, and exceeding - the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to halve extreme poverty. Following the success of the MDGs, there is renewed momentum to tackle extreme poverty. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now commit the world to ‘end poverty in all its forms everywhere’ by 2030.

At the time of setting the SDG goals it was widely acknowledged that the goal of ending poverty by 2030 was very aspirational. Of the approximately 700 million people who, in 2015, continued to live below the international extreme poverty line, most lived in sub-Saharan Africa and most lived in fragile and conflict affected states. Already it was understood that achieving the SDGs would require different approaches and strategies.

However, in 2014-2015, growth prospects in many countries were in many ways more positive than they are now, following the recent attacks on global integration , signs of slowing rich world economies and more recently with the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that the goal of ending extreme poverty has become even more challenging.

Emerging evidence also suggests that much recent progress in reducing extreme poverty was achieved through the growth of incomes for the large numbers of people living just below the poverty line. The chronically poor people living furthest below the poverty line and marginalised groups, including women, children, and people with disabilities now comprise the majority of those remaining in poverty. This suggests that earlier tools for combatting poverty, such as broad-based economic growth, are now perhaps less effective in reaching the remaining extreme poor. New tools, techniques, and policies are needed. 

Our Approach

Our research will capitalise on, and further develop, innovations in data collection and processing, coupled with innovations in analysis and modelling, to provide new insights into the situation of extreme poverty and its main drivers, particularly in eight focus countries.

New types of data and analysis are important both for generating new insights and poverty diagnostics, but also for generating better understanding of what strategies, policies and programmes work for removing extreme poverty and why.

Our initial research is focusing on new data sets, including those drawing on sources of ‘big data’ and new econometric techniques in poverty dynamics and vulnerability analysis that can generate insights at greater speed, at lower cost, at higher frequency and at higher levels of granularity than traditional data sets alone. These characteristics (speed, cost, frequency and granularity) not only hold out the promise for a  greater impact of poverty policy but also the opportunity for faster policy learning, greater agency for primary policy stakeholders, and – over time – a more demanding governance and accountability framework.

Outcomes and wider impacts

Our vision is to have a significant global and national impact on thinking and practice around data, diagnostics, and policy to accelerate the eradication of extreme poverty.

Our research will both generate country-specific evidence, insights and solutions, as well as draw-out comparative findings and develop new methods, tools and evidence of what works that will be of value beyond the focus countries. The ambition of the programme is to have a broad influence through drawing-on and developing the networks of the consortium partners, UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and World Bank to support uptake beyond the Extreme Poverty focus countries.