Use of poverty assessment tools for impact evaluation?

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clintonsears's picture
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Joined: 01/11/2013 - 3:01am (US)
Use of poverty assessment tools for impact evaluation?

Hi all,

I support M&E for the LIFT (Livelihoods and Food Security Technical Assistance) project at FHI 360.  Please see our site if you would like background:  http://kdid.org/projects/field-support/lift. As part of work to establish and facilitate linkages between health clinics and community-based services (primarily economic strengthening, livelihoods, and food security, or ES/L/FS), LIFT is going to test a number of poverty screening/assessment tools.  Our hope is to administer a short tool with clients at a health center to help make informed, appropriate referrals to ES/L/FS services available to households in their community.  It is our hope to develop a screening/assessment tool that will:

  • Quickly and accurately identify a client’s household poverty situation (using the provide, protect, promote framework, see page 4 of http://microlinks.kdid.org/sites/microlinks/files/resource/files/LIFT%20ES%20Framework_8%2017%202011.pdf).  We hope this can be followed over time to track household poverty, but this may be risky with a screening tool.
  • Allow a trained social worker (or perhaps skilled health staff) to refer clients to appropriate ES/L/FS services.  The screening tool will not be the basis of eligibility/ineligibility for services.  Rather, the social worker/health staff need to be trained to make competent referrals.

We are looking at the PPI (Progress out of Poverty Initiative) tools, the PAT (Poverty Assessment Tool), and the CSI (CARE’s Coping Strategies Index).  Approaches like HEA (Household Economy Approach) are too complex for the kind of work we need to do.

MY QUESTIONS: 

  • Are there other tools to consider? 
  • Do we have experience with in-house tools? 
  • Has anyone used these kinds of tools (in part or alone) for impact evaluation purposes?  Ideally, we would like to be able to incorporate repeat poverty measures into our impact evaluation.

I’m in Malawi until 2/10, but please feel free to email me at csears@fhi360.org.

Many thanks for your help and I look forward to collaborating with you!!

Clinton

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poverty
assessment
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food security
economic strengthening
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Patricia Rogers's picture
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Joined: 01/06/2011 - 3:50pm (US)
Use of poverty assessment tools for impact evaluation

Hi Clinton,

Have you had a look at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative Multidimensional Poverty Index?  Info about it can be accessed here http://www.ophi.org.uk/policy/multidimensional-poverty-index/ .  For example their report on Malawi shows poverty nationally and subnationally http://www.ophi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Malawi1.pdf?cda6c1

It uses indicators appropriate to the particular situation:

 

Multidimensional poverty is made up of several factors that constitute poor people’s experience of deprivation – such as poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standard, lack of income (as one of several factors considered), disempowerment, poor quality of work and threat from violence.

A multidimensional measure can incorporate a range of indicators to capture the complexity of poverty and better inform policies to relieve it. Different indicators can be chosen appropriate to the society and situation

clintonsears's picture
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Thanks, Patricia!

Hi Patricia...no, I had not heard about the MPI but I will check it out now. Have you used it at all?

My only off-the-cuff concern is that it might collect too much data.  Our program is not an implementer, so we need only a minimum of information to facilitate referrals (again, we won't do this...we will work with a local network to ensure they can do it). One of the reasons we are less concerned about a unidimensional measure of poverty (e.g., expenditures) is that we are referring ALL clients to different services.  We're not using one indicator alone to determine eligibility for a service.  We'd be much more concerned about inclusion/exclusion errors if our poverty indicator were the sole determinant.

Thanks very much for your suggestion...I look forward to reading more about it.  Have a great day!!

Clinton

Patricia Rogers's picture
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Joined: 01/06/2011 - 3:50pm (US)
Hi Clinton,

Hi Clinton,

No, I haven't used it, but heard Sabina Alkira make a presentation about it.  It's a very interesting approach as it used a combination of locally appropriate indicator

Kind regards,

Patricia

Simon Hearn's picture
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Joined: 01/12/2011 - 10:40pm (US)
Hi Clinton,

Hi Clinton,

This isn't my area of expertise at all - and to me it looks like you've already got a wide range of tools and measures to consider - but I have come across two papers which discuss this from slightly different angles. Not sure if they are relevant for you but take a look:

1) ‘Valuing development’: Could approaches to measuring outcomes in health help make development more accountable? 

Section 3 is interesting for you as it discusses the history of poverty indicators. Section 4 introduces a system used in the UK health sector that generates indicators based on patients own judgments about the wellbeing. Section 5 discusses how this kind of indicator can be used in development. 

2) There's a whole world of participatory poverty assessment - see here and here for example. 

In terms of the BetterEvaluation framework, the most relevant page would be the Use measures and indicators task. You'll see that there are a lot of gaps. I'm not sure if you're able but it would be good if you could help us update this with the tools you mentioned above.

Cheers,

Simon

clintonsears's picture
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Joined: 01/11/2013 - 3:01am (US)
Thanks again :)

Patricia, thanks again for your comment...I've downloaded info on the MPI and will read soon.

Simon, thanks as well for your response.  The ODI document you linked to (Section 3, history of poverty indicators) is quite interesting.  One of the challenges we struggle with is that we very much need a tool that is lightweight and can be used--in the span of minutes--to identify household poverty.  The PPI and PAT certainly do this, and my most pressing question is if anyone has tried to use these as a basis for an impact evaluation.  The PPI website explicitly says it does not collect impact data (i.e., data that allow us to attribute causation to a program) yet people use it in that way.  It's a good methodological conversation to have.

As a technical assistance project, we do not implement programs, and very likely have no need for very cumbersome monitoring schemes or complex indicators.  Those are much more suited to the kind of organizations we provide technical assistance to...indeed part of our mandate is to organize implementers into a network.  Simon what I like about your comment is that you included a link to the PPA document...PPA is a kind of methodology that didn't spring to my mind but is worth a second look as I may help us manage the networks we help to create.  After all, the networks are only valuable if they are locally owned and representative.

Thanks for both of your comments!!

Clinton

Patricia Rogers's picture
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Joined: 01/06/2011 - 3:50pm (US)
Also see this article on how

Also see this article on how self-assessment might be a valid option http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/01/22/how-to-find-the-poor/ 

clintonsears's picture
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Joined: 01/11/2013 - 3:01am (US)
Hi Patricia,

Hi Patricia,

I'm back home now and just wanted to say thanks for your comment and link to the blog post. :)

Also, Simon...we are developing a protocol to test different tools in Malawi later this year.  If I can, I will happily update the betterevaluation.org sections you mention.  Are you part of the betterevaluation.org team?  Feel free to connect with me at csears@fhi360.org if you'd like to discuss this further.

Have a great day,


Clinton

carla hemsworth's picture
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Joined: 10/04/2013 - 6:29pm (US)
Use of poverty assessment

Use of poverty assessment tools for impact evaluation?

 

Honestly I'm no expert to tell you if whether this poverty assessment tool will be very effective on impact evaluation. I salute your research on this field. We all know that poverty has been a number one national problem. Yet, we cannot even combat, truly further research and understanding can help us on poverty threshold. In fact,More and more Americans are losing their fight to stave off poverty in a tenaciously stubborn economic climate. The United States Census Bureau released a disheartening.

 

Good luck to your clintonsears!

 

 

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