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News & Events 2004/03

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 [PPT:394KB].

Workshop on Poverty Assessment and Business Development Services,
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 Services:

  • 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 provider?
  • What are the most frequently used BDS models?

Identifying Clients:

  • 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 assessment?
  • Do BDS programs engage in market research to design products for end clients?
  • 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 [PDF: 13KB]

Workshop on Participatory Poverty Assessment Tools, March 4, 2004

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 [PDF: 13KB].

Presentation of the Project at the Asia/Pacific Regional Microcredit Summit Meeting of Councils

The Asia/Pacific 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 meeting.

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 criteria.

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 methods.

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 [PDF: 179KB].



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