Poverty Assessment


Helping the clients move out of poverty is a primary goal of most development organizations, including microfinance institutions (MFIs). Organization want to measure their progress in reaching this goal. All recipients of USAID funding for either microfinance or microenterprise development must measure and report to AID on the percentage of their incoming clients who are ‘very poor’. This law went into effect in October 2006.

In September and then again in December of 2005, IDEAS provided lead trainers to teach practitioners from 18 MFIs and enterprise development organizations how to implement the draft Poverty Assessment Tools (PATs) that were being tested for practicality by The IRIS Center of the University of Maryland, the lead contractor for the development of the poverty indicators and the PATs under the USAID AMAP project. The role of IDEAS has been to assist IRIS in developing training materials and to serve as trainers of the MFIs and enterprise development organizations that were testing a wide variety of poverty indicators. The best of them are currently being used in the PATs for different countries. IDEAS was selected for the role of PAT training by IRIS because IDEAS has developed a strong international reputation over the last decade for being able to teach practitioners how to use a wide variety of evaluation tools with high quality results in a brief period of time.

What does IDEAS offer to help practitioners learn to use the PAT?

1. Technical Assistance: If an organization needs to report to USAID, the IDEAS team is uniquely qualified to train staff to implement one of the certified poverty assessment tools to meet these 2006 USAID reporting requirements. The IDEAS team also can help organizations to incorporate additional indicators into their poverty assessment process to facilitate the measurement and processing of impact, client satisfaction and marketing information.

2. Accompaniment in the Field Work: If an organization needs to be accompanied by an expert in the field work, IDEAS has experience in doing this in Asia, Africa and Latin America. We have coordinated a wide variety of field investigations, including very large ones, like our work with Opportunity International involving 60 interviewers from 10 different countries in Ghana.

3. Two-day Course

This workshop guides participants through a step-by-step process for developing a plan and budget for implementing a Poverty Assessment Tool (PAT) in their organization.

It assists senior management in planning ways to implement the poverty assessment tools using a global tool or one certified for the particular country. This course teaches the generic process of planning to do the PAT, which will be good for any country.

The workshop provides management with all the information needed in two days. Due to the brief nature of the 2-day workshop, participants will not learn how to carry out surveys or interviewing techniques, which is covered in the 5-day course.

This fast-paced, very practical course helps managers organize the various components and understand the key decisions that need to made to carry out a Poverty Assessment Tool, either on a one-time basis or as a monitoring tool for incoming clients.

This course is structured to be highly participatory, with participants applying the PAT planning framework to their own organizations. Since some of the exercises are computer-based, participants use a laptop during the two-day session.

IDEAS has offered a shorter, one-day version of this course to MicroCredit Summit in Halifax on November 18, 2006.


4. Five-day Course

IDEAS has offered two courses of 5-days each for IRIS. In addition to the learning objectives in the link above, the 5-day workshop also teaches the tools and how to do the interviewing as well as much more about sampling and analysis.

Would you like to organize a course on Poverty Assessment Tools?

If you would like to organize this course in your country in English, please contact Dr. Gaamaa Hishigsuren at IDEAS .

Si le gustaría organizar un curso similar en su país en el español, favor contactar a Paola Díaz Torres.

Poverty Assessment within the context of the Goals of the MicroCredit Summit

Goal 1. Working to ensure that 175 million of the world’s poorest families, especially the women of those families, are receiving credit for self-employment and other financial and business services by the end of 2015. (With an average of five in a family this would affect 875 million family members.)

Goal 2. Working to ensure that 100 million of the world’s poorest families move from below US$1 a day adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) to above US $1 a day adjusted for PPP, by the end of 2015. (With an average of five per family this would mean that 500 million people would have risen above $1 a day, nearly completing the Millennium Development Goal on halving absolute poverty.)

The Microcredit Summit Campaign defines poorest as those who are in the bottom half of those living below their nation’s poverty line, or any of the 1.2 billion who live on less than 1 USD a day adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), when they started with a program. The Campaign’s greatest challenge lies in bridging the gap between its commitment to reaching the poorest and the lack of a sufficient number of effective poverty measurement tools in use. Therefore, every mention of the term ‘poorest’ should be read within the context of this dilemma.

The USAID legislation uses the term “very poor” for those under $1 per day purchasing power parity. For the purpose of this workshop “very poor” and “poorest” are used interchangeably.