Covid-19: Nearly 60 million of India’s poor most vulnerable, says Oxford study
Using a multidimensional poverty index (MPI) developed with the UN Development Programme, researchers at the University of Oxford said on Thursday that nearly 60 million poor in India are at ‘high risk’ from the coronavirus pandemic.
A briefing from the Oxford Poverty and Human development Initiative (OPHI) says that India tops the list of 10 countries most vulnerable to the virus; others include the most poor in China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Uganda and Afghanistan.
The team used existing poverty data to analyse the vulnerability of populations on the basis of three indicators: lack of access to clean drinking water, under-nutrition and a lack of clean cooking fuel. The deprivations have long been associated with weakened immune systems and respiratory systems.
Co-author Christian Oldiges said that for India, data relied on the National Family Health Survey 2015/16, and the population total is based on the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ 2017 revision.
Oldiges said: “Out of the 1.3 billion people in India, 974 million (or 72%) are at risk to COVID-19 as they suffer from one of the three following indicators: malnourishment, no access to clean water, no clean cooking fuel”.
“62.5 million (or 5%) are at high risk, suffering from all three indicators at the same time. 371 million (or 28%) are at risk and are multidimensionally poor (according to the global MPI; i.e. they are deprived in more than one third of the 10 weighted MPI indicators)”.
“58 million (or 4.3%) are at high risk and are MPI poor (highest number globally in absolute number of population)”, he added.
Led by Sabina Alkire, the OPHI team said that globally, around 3.5 billion people live with at least one deprivation. Nearly 472 million people live with all three. Over 5% in South Asia are simultaneously deprived in nutrition, water and cooking fuel.
Alkire added: “We are analysing poverty data productively to inform both the Covid-19 emergency and post-emergency response. As the year unfolds, we will continue to work with our creative and committed colleagues in poverty reduction around the world as we track the long-term profound effects of Covid-19 on global poverty.”