News and Articles

Partner Spotlight: Multidimensional Poverty and COVID-19 Risk Factors

April 14, 2020

This article is part of a “Partner Spotlight” series where we will be sharing the innovative ways SCSC partners are responding and adapting in light of COVID-19. 

The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) is an economic research and policy centre within the Oxford Department of International Development at the University of Oxford. OPHI aims to build and advance a more systematic methodological and economic framework for reducing multidimensional poverty, grounded in people’s experiences and values.

SCSC’s partnership with OPHI goes back to 2014, when SCSC Founder Kim Samuel was a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, exploring the linkages between social isolation and multidimensional poverty. Her research with OPHI found that social isolation exacerbates the overlapping deprivations that people living in poverty face on a day-to-day basis. The findings were published as white papers and in the Oxford Development Studies journal, and we continue to advance this research with OPHI to better understand how adapting or creating policies that prioritize social connectedness can contribute to the alleviation of poverty. Most recently, SCSC’s work with OPHI has focused on the role and impact of social connectedness in national policy efforts, notably Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, OPHI has issued a briefing on COVID-19 risk factors among countries that score low on the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The brief highlights that many people face overlapping deprivations in basic needs; a lack of access to cooking fuel as well as safe drinking water and nutrition place individuals at a higher risk of contracting and not recovering from COVID-19. As such, it is imperative that these countries adapt targeted responses to protect their most vulnerable and multidimensionally poor citizens. 

OPHI hopes that this pandemic will lead to global and local responses and solutions that aim to end poverty in all its forms. SCSC joins OPHI in this hope and will continue to share relevant research that highlights intersectional and people-centred approaches to tackling poverty.

You can learn more about OPHI’s research on their website and follow their updates on Facebook and Twitter.