Measuring poverty is not easy due to its complexities. It is important to carry out a multidimensional measurement system to improve the quality of poverty eradication program.

A research jointly conducted by the Kompas daily, the Ford Foundation and the Prakarsa Thinker Institute observes poverty in various dimensions with 11 indicators, covering healthcare, education, and standard of living. This measurement system is different from the one often used, which was merely based on the amount of household income or spending.

The multidimensional measurement gives more accurate and specific information on the severity and level of poverty, thereby making eradication efforts more effective and on target.

The research shows that the characteristic of multidimensional poverty in Indonesia is dominated by problems of basic standard of living: insufficient facilities for availability of clean water, electricity, sanitation, and fuel for cooking. Poor healthcare and education conditions also prevail although they vary in degree in the regions where the research was conducted.

For years we have been well aware that nominal household spending alone is not enough to measure the poverty level, much less to solve poverty problems. Indonesia recognizes the poverty line introduced by Prof. Sayogyo of the Bogor Agriculture Institute. Sayogyo has used the amount of rice consumption for measuring poverty because it is the basic needs for human survival.

Economics professor and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, in his book titled Development as Freedom (1999), explains how poverty and its dimensional aspects has posed complex problems. Sen points out that poverty is connected with access to life basic needs like education, healthcare, economic resources, and even democracy.

The Human Development Index set out by the United Nations Development Programme measures the quality of development through its multidimensional aspects, including equality in gender.

This underlines that overcoming poverty problems is not only a matter of economic growth. At present the government focuses on infrastructure developments, but limited to infrastructural constructions. To overcome poverty problems, with increasing number of poor people, the government cannot but improve public access to social and economic infrastructures.

Economic infrastructure that provides micro- and small-scale businesspeople with cheapcredits, and social infrastructure that provides everyone with education and healthcare.

The most basic one is easy access to food commodities. It has been proven that high production alone did not guarantee that people could gain access to food commodities. As long as the public cannot gain such an access, the government cannot overcome the poverty problems.

Source: Editor's Choice of Kompas Daily, January 20 2016 Edition

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