15 April 2012

Questionable South Sudan Poverty Statistics

Yes, it seems that today I will mostly be procrastinating in avoidance of finishing my report by reading the House of Commons report. Thanks for that Tom.

Here's a quote from the backgrounder section: 
Eight out of ten people live on an equivalent of less than one $1 (63p) per day.
Now maybe this is nitpicking, but the best data we have says that the poverty rate in South Sudan is 50% (against a national poverty line). You can't just throw out an 80% figure without saying why you chose to look at $1 a day, whether you are talking PPP or not, or providing a source.


Espen Beer Prydz said...

This 80% below a dollar a day figure keeps coming up here in Juba and is often quoted by the UN. I think it originates from a 2005/2006 assessment which was a lot less rigorous than the assessment conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2009. 

rovingbandit said...

I thought the totally-made-up-out-of-thin-air 2005 number was 90% below a dollar a day?

Abhijeet Singh said...

This is NOT nitpicking.

This 90% figure drives me nuts every time I hear it! It comes from this document (http://ssnbs.org/storage/Towards-Baseline.pdf) which was published in 2004 when pretty much nobody had any data on South Sudan. Here's the FULL justification for this figure (p65):

"With the estimated GNI, it is clear that poverty in southern Sudan is absolute. Table 1 gives information against the international poverty line defined as "percent of population with income below one dollar per day”. Figures are 66% in CAR and 82% in Uganda and Ethiopia. Although these are the highest figures in the world, it is hard to believe that the SOSUS figure could be any less than 90%."


Also, the entire report only talked about the SPLM controlled areas (i.e. does not include Juba, Wau, Malakal etc.). So to use ANY figures from these and say that these are figures for South Sudan as a whole is just silly.

I guess the 90% figure will continue to be used till the time it helps the UN and NGOs get more money approved (which is pretty much forever, at this point...); they seem to like evidence-based policy making but only so long as the evidence agrees entirely with their funding priorities....

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