11 July 2024

Thailand’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is 0.002, the lowest among all the ASEAN countries, according to a new report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) today (Wednesday).

The low index, compared to those of Myanmar (0.176), Cambodia (0.170), Laos (0.108), the Philippines (0.024), Viet Nam (0.019), and Indonesia (0.014), indicates improved economy, but the data is based on the pre-COVID times in 2019.

According to a recent analysis of the UNDP, the COVID-19 situation has exposed the vulnerabilities that originally existed in the system.

This year’s report shows a poverty situation exacerbated by traditional inequality, such as inequality between ethnic groups and women. Multidimensional and ethnic analysis of poverty is of great importance in the distinction between ethnic groups and skin colour is something on which policymakers should focus, in order to provide for fair and thorough post-COVID-19 development.

In 2015-2016 and 2012, Thailand’s index was 0.003 and 0.005, respectively.

According to the latest survey, 176,000 people have risen above the poverty line, due to better access to basic utilities, such as sanitation, drinking water, electricity and housing. Other important factors are the number of years of education and access to nutrients. These deserve special attention, because the COVID-19 outbreak has had the greatest impact on the most vulnerable groups.

The use of multidimensional perspectives to analyse poverty underscores the importance of looking at poverty over income.

Multidimensional poverty in Thailand is 0.5 points higher than financial poverty, indicating that, although people live above the income poverty line, they may also face difficulties in their health, education and/or quality of life.

Although the way to ending poverty is not a straight line, due to different dimensions and different times, various methods must be analysed and implemented to increase income to achieve fair and thorough development.

The UN report states that thorough poverty eradication policies and practical approaches must focus on the management of violence and the different components of poverty, and that this is the time to change policy and rethink the way to recover after COVID-19 with fairness and equality in mind.