News & Events 2004/03
Presentation to the Poverty Assessment Working Group of the SEEP
Network, October 27, 2004
Against the backdrop of the Annual General Meetings of the SEEP Network,
IRIS presented an update on the project to the Poverty Assessment Working
Group. The presentation included a short review of the progress so far,
the unveiling of accuracy results from the Bangladesh field test and
LSMS data analysis, and an update on the practicality tests. A PowerPoint
presentation of the talk is available for download
Workshop on Poverty Assessment and Business Development
March 4, 2004
Business Development Services (BDS) pose a particular challenge for
the use of poverty assessment tools. BDS programs tend to be market
oriented, rather than institution focused, and features a host of different
delivery mechanisms. Equally important, their end clients cannot always
be easily identified. It is therefore important to bring to light the
specific circumstances and requirements of the BDS community in implementing
poverty assessment tools. USAID's Microenterprise Development division,
the SEEP Network and the IRIS Center organized a discussion on BDS and
poverty assessment. The discussion focused on typologies of BDS program
design and implementation, and on how the relationship between implementing
agencies, private sector partners and clients may affect the implementation
of tools. The agenda of the workshop was: Introduction: Welcome and
introduction. Present legislation, how it affects ME providers, general
methodology and how to stay involved. State of the Art in Business Development
- What are considered best practices in BDS?
- How does a focus on market orientation vs. institutional orientation
affect project implementation?
- What is the relationship between the facilitator and the service
- What are the most frequently used BDS models?
- What methods do BDS practitioners currently use to identify the
end client? Whose responsibility is it—the implementing agency
or the service provider?
Current Methodologies for Targeting and Impact Assessment:
- What methodologies are currently being used by BDS practitioners
to collect household data, either for poverty targeting or impact
- Do BDS programs engage in market research to design products for
- What kind? What other kinds of data are collected on end clients?
- What types of MIS systems do BDS programs use, if any?
Levels of Responsibility:
- Who is responsible for data collection, analysis?
- When and how can practitioners task their private sector partners
with data collection?
- What are the implications and costs to the partner?
- What, if any, management uses are there for such information?
- What incentives are in place, or could be adopted, to encourage
service providers to collect accurate data?
- What incentives are there for clients to provide such information?
Implementation and Sampling:
- How would different types of target clients affect the implementation
of the tools?
- Is it possible to make a distinction between new /entering clients
and older clients in BDS programs?
- How could representative sample of end clients be developed? When
or how would that be difficult?
An overview of the meeting is available for download
Workshop on Participatory Poverty Assessment Tools, March
Participatory poverty assessment tools such as Participatory Wealth
Ranking (PWR) are widely used throughout the developing world. In addition
to providing an indication of client poverty, they have many purposes,
including targeting and empowering poor clients (a description of PWR
and additional resources are available here). It is therefore important
to carefully evaluate their potential for helping USAID meet the congressional
mandate for low-cost poverty assessment tools that evaluate clients'
poverty levels. USAID's Microenterprise Development division, the SEEP
Network and the IRIS Center organized a methodological discussion on
PWR and how results produced by the tool, and others like it, can be
used by USAID to consistently and rigorously report the number of microenterprise
clients living on less than $1/day or in the bottom 50% below national
poverty lines. The discussion centered on the value of participatory
methods per se, but on the use of relative and qualitative information
(such as that gathered by PWR) to meet an absolute and quantitative
reporting target. Some of the questions that were discussed include:
What processes can be used to extrapolate from PWR results in several
communities to obtain an accurate estimate of the number of “very
poor” recipients, as defined above? What are the exact steps that
would be taken, from the inception of the PWR exercise to the actual
reporting to USAID? The idea of “anchoring” PWR (if one
specific household in a community is living on exactly a $1/day, all
recipients of USAID ME funding listed as poorer than this household
in the PWR would be included in the report to USAID) has been suggested
as a method to link PWR results with absolute, income-based poverty
lines. What are possible anchors and how are they implemented in practice?
It has been suggested that geographical targeting combined with PWR
would produce results detailed enough to report on the number of very
poor clients. What is the minimum level of precision of demographic
data (at the level of region, village, hamlet, etc.) required? Can PWR
identify poverty characteristics of households or groups? If the latter,
what degree of approximation would be produced, and would it be compatible
with the level of reporting detail requested by USAID and Congress?
If not, how can PWR be used to gather household-level information? Can
PWR be useful for identifying relevant indicators for adapting individual
poverty measurement tools? If so, they would constitute a very useful
complement to these tools. Would PWR be the most cost effective means
of gathering this information? What are the issues to consider in order
to ensure correct and consistent implementation? An overview of the
meeting is available for download
Presentation of the Project at the Asia/Pacific Regional
Microcredit Summit Meeting of Councils
Regional Microcredit Summit Meeting of Councils was held February
16-19, 2004 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Dr. Manfred Zeller presented an update
on the Developing Poverty Assessment Tools Project in a panel discussion
on donor activities on poverty measurement. Advisory Panel members Chris
Dunford, Nina Nayar, and Anton Simanowitz were also be present at the
Workshop on Certification Criteria, January 30, 2004
About 40 microenterprise practitioners, USAID/MD staff, and IRIS staff
and consultants met for a morning of brainstorming about the criteria
that USAID may use for certification of poverty assessment tools. Lively
work sessions produced a number of concrete recommendations in the following
areas: measurement accuracy, cost and ease of use of tool implementation,
and utility for practitioners beyond compliance with the Congressional
Mandate. The final report of the workshop is now available for download
[PDF: 204KB]. Transcripts of the following sessions are also available:
Field Test Update (January 2004)
This update describes in more detail the approach that will be followed
for the accuracy tests.
The field testing methodology developed for the poverty assessment
project involves two rounds of field testing: tests of accuracy and
tests of practicality. The tests of accuracy, which will be conducted
in 2004, will be implemented by survey firms and test the ability of
various tools and indicators to predict poverty. The tests of practicality
will begin in late 2004, and will involve microenterprise practitioners
in implementing different tools while judging them on a range of practical
The IRIS team is in the process of building a questionnaire for accuracy
tests that we plan to field test in several countries. It compiles tools
and indicators submitted to us by members of the microenterprise community
in late 2003 into one composite survey instrument. This composite is
being used in light of the time constraints presented by the Congressional
legislation that prevent us from separately testing each type of tool
in a host of countries. The composite survey instrument will be adapted
in a visit to the country by members of the poverty assessment team
who will work with a local survey firm to revise, pilot and then implement
this questionnaire. We expect it will take 1 to 2 hours to implement.
This team will also train the survey firm to implement the expenditure
module of the LSMS (Living Standards Measurement Survey). The expenditure
module of the LSMS takes about 1 to 2 hours to implement. (It is very
important to note the distinction between the entire LSMS, which contains
modules on income, education, health, fertility, migration, etc. in
addition to the expenditure module and can take 8 hours to implement,
and the expenditure module which takes 1 to 2 hours).
The essence of our methodology in the tests of accuracy is to implement
the composite tool and the expenditure module on the same households.
We will then run individual level regressions to test how well various
indicators do in predicting poverty levels. We will also try other estimation
The survey team will be instructed to implement the composite survey
on the first field visit, and return exactly 14 days later to implement
the expenditure of the LSMS on the same households. The composite survey
will be implemented first to reflect how these tools will be implemented
in the field. Implementing the LSMS expenditure module second allows
for a bounded recall period (e.g., “how many potatoes have you
bought since our last visit?”), which makes it easier for the
household to provide more accurate responses. The LSMS expenditure module
can then serve as a benchmark against which the indicators in the first
questionnaire will be tested.
These tests will allow us to determine the accuracy of the indicators
in predicting poverty levels. They will also allow us to examine the
stability of predictors, i.e., are the indicators consistent across
countries in predicting poverty levels. Once recommendations about the
accuracy of various indicators are known, the team will deconstruct
the composite survey instrument into a series of tools that, with varying
degrees of accuracy, predict poverty. These tools will be implemented
by practitioners in the tests of practicality to better understand the
implementation and use of such tools. The results from both of these
types of testing will be compiled into a catalogue of tools that will
be presented to USAID at the end of this project and a practitioner's
handbook for use of such tools, including guidelines for local adaptation.
Project Launch, October 24, 2003
The general approach and goals of the project were presented to practitioners
as part of the SEEP Network's Annual General Meeting. The presentation
made that afternoon is available for download