Saturday 30 Sep 2023

Will Goa's poverty downtrend reflect in welfare doles?

| SEPTEMBER 14, 2023, 11:19 PM IST

Goa has registered a 2.92 per cent decline in its multi-dimensionally poor population, according to the National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The Progress Review Report of 2023 shows that 45,564 people from Goa exited from multidimensional poverty during the period, with rural and urban areas showing the fastest decline in poverty.

The data has an element of positivity, and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant promptly attributed it to the success in three parameters assessed -- health, education and standard of living. While he took pride in the fact that there is a significant drop in the poverty line, Sawant reiterated that efforts to eradicate extreme poverty by the turn of 2030 are still on.

There is, however, work to do in the fight against poverty. Around 20.23 per cent is still deprived of nutrition, 9.50 per cent of the poor population does not have proper housing, 12.26 per cent lacks sanitation facilities, and a small 2.57 per cent is still not covered with cooking fuel.

The National MPI derives its figure based on equally weighted dimensions of health, education and standard of living, which are represented in 12 SDH (Social Determinants of Health) linked indicators, which include nutrition, child and adolescent, mortality, maternal health, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, assets and bank accounts. The MPI will help the State government, which boasts a high standard of living, work on shortcomings, address emerging channels, reflect on policy decisions, and effectively respond to the comprehensiveness of poverty in the State.

The rider in the MPI reports is that it is by no means an indicator of an overall improvement in the life of the people. The report is encouraging for Goa, but it has a long way to go, and powerful poverty interventions will be needed. Also, the government must use the MPI data to identify the exact factors that comprise poverty and design efficient actions. There may not be a magic formula, but the information would provide a broad understanding. For example, the government should be in a better position to focus on the well-being of different groups or sections of the population that are deprived of the basics of life.

On another count, it is to be seen how the change in the poverty index reflects on the welfare of citizens and whether there would be any impact on the beneficiaries who take the government's financial doles with 'poverty' as the qualifying factor.

It may be noted the chief minister distributed sanction letters to beneficiaries under the Griha Aadhar scheme on Thursday. The objective of this scheme is to provide support to various needy people in society to maintain a reasonable standard of living for their families. There is an expectation that at least a minor reflection of the 45,564 exiting poverty would be visible with people falling out of various welfare schemes.

There is some reason to feel good that Goa's poverty figures are declining, contrary to a projection made by a section of political leaders. We only hope that the government shows an even greater intensity and drive to tackle poverty and focuses on the welfare of everyday citizens.


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