Designing a Multidimensional Poverty Index (2021)

In this course, you will learn to develop a holistic multidimensional poverty index that integrates the income dimension with deprivations across health, education, housing, sanitation, employment and livelihoods, food security, environment, and other living standards to inform the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Start date: 22 February 2021
End date: 2 April 2021
Duration: 6 weeks
Estimated effort: 2 – 3 hours per week
Languages: English, French, Spanish
 Course type: Massive Open Online Course

Course syllabus FAQs Meet the experts

UNDP and OPHI are pleased to offer a FREE six-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Designing a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in English, French, and Spanish. This course draws on the handbook, "How to Build a National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI): Using the MPI to inform the SDGs," launched by UNDP and OPHI in July 2019. The MPI complements traditional monetary poverty measures by capturing severe deprivations in education, health, living standards, employment, safety, and many other dimensions of poverty. Using country and sub-national examples, this course offers detailed practical guidance for policymakers, technical experts, and other stakeholders on how to design an MPI at the national and local levels.

Course highlights and outcomes

  • Gain hands-on tools to develop a comprehensive MPI capturing multiple simultaneous deprivations faced by the poor
  • Take a deep dive into rich learning materials
  • Receive a certificate of completion from premier international development institutions

Course topics

  • Week 1: Introduction to the Multidimensional Poverty Index
  • Week 2: Generating support for the national MPI
  • Week 3: The technical process of creating a national MPI – Part 1
  • Week 4: The technical process of creating a national MPI – Part 2
  • Week 5: Using national MPIs as policy tools
  • Week 6: Applying the MPI towards a COVID-19 recovery

Learning objectives

By the time the course is completed, you will be able to:

  • Understand the steps involved in developing a robust MPI
  • Examine the normative choices and technical requirements of multidimensional poverty measurement
  • Understand the key aspects of stakeholder engagement in designing and using an MPI
  • Monitor, analyze and report progress in reducing multidimensional poverty at national and local levels, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Course completion requirements

To receive the certificate of course completion, participants must:

  • Complete five online lessons
  • Pass five weekly quizzes
  • Watch all course lectures
  • Pass the final test
  • Complete the course survey

Click “Enroll” to register today. We invite you to introduce yourself to fellow course participants on the Meet and Greet forum below.

Every Monday of the course starting on 22 February you will receive an email outlining the content of the week. If you do not receive instructional emails from Learning for Nature in your inbox, please check your Spam folder or click on week’s titles below to view the same instructions in the course room. Content will be published each Sunday for the week ahead. If you have any questions, please contact the Learning for Nature team at

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Course Includes

  • Course Certificate

Course syllabus

Module 1Module 2Module 3Module 4Module 5Module 6

Week 1: Introduction to a multidimensional approach to poverty elimination

This module provides the background for undertaking the multidimensional approach to poverty eradication. It explains the difference between monetary and multidimensional poverty, outlines motivations for the multidimensional approach to poverty eradication, defines a national MPI and explains its objectives and value.

REQUIRED: Lesson and Quiz

Lesson 1: Introduction to the multidimensional approach to poverty eradication (45 minutes)


  • Describe the difference between monetary and multidimensional poverty
  • Outline motivations for the multidimensional approach to poverty eradication
  • Define a national MPI and its objectives
  • Explain the value of a national MPI

Quiz 1: Introduction to the multidimensional approach to poverty eradication

Quiz 1 checks your comprehension of the material covered in Lesson 1.

REQUIRED: Lectures

  • Sabina Alkire “National MPIs and Sustainable Development Goals”
  • Achim Steiner “Importance and applications of national MPIs”

RECOMMENDED: Case studies

  • Panama
  • Dominican Republic

OPTIONAL: Discussion forum

  1. Where does your country stand in terms of the level of income and multidimensional poverty? If your country is not listed, then select a country you are interested in.

    • Review “Table 1: MPI Developing Countries” of the Global MPI 2019 Illuminating Inequalities report and one Country Briefing of your choice, and share the statistics for your country and your reflections on the discussion forum.
    • Reflect on the differences between the percentage of the population living below the income poverty line and the population in multidimensional poverty for your selected country. What factors do you think contribute to this difference?

  2. Which of the possible policy uses of national MPIs do you think would be most appealing to policymakers in your country? Please explain.
  3. Review the list of countries that have implemented national or local MPIs as official poverty measures here. Select one of the countries from the list and research the information about that country’s MPI available online. Based on your research, identify the motivation of your selected country to compute a national MPI and share your findings on the discussion forum.

Week 2: Generating support for the national MPI

This module discusses the process of engagement with different actors and how institutional arrangements facilitate the process of designing, computing and using national MPIs. It also explains the relevance of a solid communications strategy to guarantee the sustainability of the measure over time.

REQUIRED: Lesson and Quiz

Lesson 2: Generating support for the national MPI (45 minutes)


  • Outline the four pivotal requirements for the sustainability and effectiveness of the national MPI as a policy tool
  • Convey the importance of having a clear sense of the relevant stakeholders and defining a compact strategy to bring key players on board at the right time
  • Describe the characteristics of a successful communications strategy for a national MPI process

Quiz 2: Generating support for the national MPI

Quiz 2 checks your comprehension of the material covered in Lesson 2.

REQUIRED: Lectures

  • Shakeel Ahmad “Changing the poverty narrative with a national MPI”
  • Monica Pinilla-Roncancio “Identifying MPI champions”

RECOMMENDED: Case studies

  • El Salvador
  • Europe and Central Asia

OPTIONAL: Discussion forum

  1. If you were to make an elevator pitch for your national MPI to your country’s top leadership, what would it look like? Share it on the discussion forum in writing or make a video of your pitch (maximum of 1 minute).
  2. Think of 3-5 facts or statistics you can use to draw stakeholders’ attention to the value of the national MPI in your context? Share them on the discussion forum.
  3. Follow a template for a communications plan for a national MPI presented in Lesson 2 (slide “A communications strategy template”) and brainstorm responses to the first five steps given your national context: overall goals, communications objectives, target audiences, key messages, communications tools.

Week 3: The technical process of creating a national MPI – Part 1

This module presents the Alkire-Foster method and discusses the process of building the multidimensional poverty measure, from the definition of the unit of identification to the selection of the poverty cut-off. The module also presents real examples of how countries have made these decisions and provides technical and normative arguments to validate each of them. Finally, the module's content discusses the different sources of information that can be used when developing a national MPI.

REQUIRED: Lesson and Quiz

Lesson 3: The technical process of creating a national MPI – Part 1 (45 min)


  • Describe each step of the design process for a national MPI
  • Showcase real examples of countries’ decisions in the design of their national MPI’s
  • Outline the different sources of information that can be used when developing a national MPI
  • Describe the steps involved in computing an MPI using the Alkire-Foster method

Quiz 3: The technical process of creating a national MPI – Part 1

Quiz 3 checks your comprehension of the material covered in Lesson 3.

REQUIRED: Lectures

  • James Foster “The Alkire Foster methodology”
  • Sabina Alkire “Interpreting the MPI”

RECOMMENDED: Case studies

  • National Multidimensional Poverty Index: South Africa
  • Global Multidimensional Poverty Index
  • Examples of national MPI design

OPTIONAL: Discussion forum

  1. Using the tips from Lesson 3, draft a purpose statement for a national MPI for your country or a country of your choice. Share it on the discussion forum.
  2. Review the list of countries that have implemented national or local MPIs as official poverty measures here. Select one of the countries from the list and analyze the choice of dimensions, indicators and weights in its MPI. Share the findings for a country of your choice on the discussion forum.
  3. Brainstorm the universe of indicators that could be relevant for your national MPI. Explain your choices.
  4. Assign weights to each indicator you included in the universe of indicators to indicate their relative importance. Explain your choices.
  5. Create alternative structures combining the different indicators included in the universe. The structures can include different indicators or sets of weights. Explain what differences you would expect to find.

Week 4: The technical process of creating a national MPI – Part 2

Module 4 explores how to analyze candidate measures, how to select the final version of the national MPI, and what additional analyses should be conducted. The module's content also discusses how to analyze changes over time and track progress in the MPI, and provides a summary of how the national MPI could be presented to the public.

REQUIRED: Lesson and Quiz

Lesson 4: The technical process of creating a national MPI – Part 2 (45 minutes)


  • Outline the steps needed to calculate and analyze the candidate measures for a national MPI
  • Explain the additional analyses that should be conducted before selecting the final version of an MPI
  • Explain how to conduct a detailed analysis of the results and final checks for a national MPI
  • Outline principles for the revision of a national MPI
  • Discuss ways to analyze changes over time and track progress in the MPI
  • Provide recommendations for presenting a national MPI to the public

Quiz 4: The technical process of creating a national MPI – Part 2

Quiz 4 checks your comprehension of the material covered in Lesson 4.

REQUIRED: Lectures

  • Ricardo Nogales “Key take-aways from the technical process of national MPI design”
  • Davina Osei “Communicating the national MPI”

RECOMMENDED: Case studies

  • MPI for refugees in Uganda
  • Chile

OPTIONAL: Discussion forum

  1. When it comes to presenting your national MPI to the public, which stakeholder group do you anticipate being difficult to convince? What concerns do you think this group might have and how would you address them?
  2. In preparation for the launch of your national MPI, you will need to decide on each speakers’ key messages to make sure that critical points are covered and to avoid confusion. Imagine you are tasked with drafting the talking points for one of the high-level speakers. Share 3-5 talking points you would propose.
  3. In Lesson 4, John Hammock gives an example of a quick and simplified way of explaining the Alkire-Foster method to politicians. Draft a paragraph outlining how you would explain the AF method to politicians in your country.
  4. Imagine that you have run robustness analyses and statistical tests for your national MPI, and they conclude that your estimates and comparisons are not robust and/or statistically significant. What would be your next step?

Week 5: Using national MPIs as policy tools

Module 5 presents examples of how countries have used their national MPI as a policy tool to reduce multidimensional poverty.

REQUIRED: Lesson and Quiz

Lesson 5: Using national MPIs as policy tools (45 minutes)


  • Outline primary policy applications of national MPIs
  • Give an overview of multidimensional targeting and multidimensional impact evaluation as some of the applications of national MPIs
  • Share examples of ways in which countries have used MPIs in their national contexts

Quiz 5: Using national MPIs as policy tools

Quiz 5 checks your comprehension of the material covered in Lesson 5.

REQUIRED: Lectures

  • Luis Felipe López-Calva “Policy relevance of national MPIs”
  • Christian Oldiges “Policy applications of national MPIs”

RECOMMENDED: Case studies

  • National MPI in Mexico
  • National MPI in Bolivia
  • Subnational MPI in Tarija, Bolivia
  • National MPI in Pakistan

OPTIONAL: Discussion forum

  1. What are the primary policy applications you can foresee for your national MPI?
  2. The support of which stakeholders in your country would be critical to enable the MPI to be used as a policy tool?
  3. Imagine that you do not have political support for using your national MPI as a policy tool. What arguments would you present to politicians in your country to convince them to consider policy applications of the MPI?

Week 6: Applying the MPI towards a COVID-19 recovery

Module 6 presents the uses of the Multidimensional Poverty Index for policy interventions for a COVID-19 recovery.

REQUIRED: Lectures

  • Sabina Alkire “Using MPI during the COVID-19 pandemic”
  • Abdoulaye Mar Dieye “The value-added of a multidimensional poverty approach for a COVID-19 recovery strategy”

RECOMMENDED: Case studies

  • Vietnam
  • Panama

REQUIRED: Final test

The final test assesses your comprehension of the core information presented during the course.

REQUIRED: Course survey

Your feedback is important to us. We ask that you complete a short (anonymous) survey about your learning experience.

OPTIONAL: Discussion forum

  1. How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected Global MPI risk factors (undernutrition, unsafe drinking water, or solid cooking fuel) in your country?
  2. Imagine that your national government developed an MPI as a mechanism to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Identify 2-3 potential policies that the MPI would add to your country’s recovery plan?

Frequently Asked Questions

Course Experts

Francis Andrianarison

Francis is a senior economist with the United Nations Development Program in Cameroon and the Congo. He has more than twenty years of experience in strategic advisory to African governments, the private sector and other international organizations such as the World Bank, the EU, the FAO, the WWF. His area of expertise covers strategic planning, development finance, structural transformation, inequality, poverty and growth. He holds a degree in mathematics from the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Madagascar, an Economic Statistician engineering degree from CESD-ENSAE Paris, a degree in international economics and finance from Paris-IX Dauphine and a PhD in economics from the University of Laval-Canada.

Katie Bernhard

Katie Bernhard is a geographic data scientist and statistician with six years of experience in East and North Africa. As Data Analytics Specialist at UNDP Uganda, she develops poverty, vulnerability, and inequality statistics and analyzes cross-cutting environmental and humanitarian issues for strategic social policy and program advisory. Katie led the computation of the first Multidimensional Poverty Index for Refugees in Uganda and the first Sub-national Human Development Index in both Uganda and Rwanda, also with GIS applications. She also worked with UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa to compute a Sub-regional Human Security Index for the Horn of Africa.

Agustín Casarini

Agustín is an Argentinian economist. He has contributed to the computation of the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) since 2017 and has collaborated with other OPHI projects such as Changes over Time. Previously, he has worked in different government agencies at national and local levels in Argentina, and as a university professor of statistics and economics. Now he is also working as a Research Assistant in the field of health economics, investigating tobacco control policies in Latin America, as well as inequalities and social determinants of health.

Elena Danilova-Cross

Elena is a Programme Specialist on Poverty and Inequality at UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub. She has over 10 years of professional experience in integrating human and sustainable development into policy practice as well as statistical, mainstreaming, acceleration and policy support for Agenda 2030 and SDGs. Elena initiates and manages studies, research and publications on social inclusion, human development, multidimensional poverty and inequality, including coordination and quality assurance and evaluation of human development reporting, policy papers and other cross-thematic reports.

Bécaye Diarra

Bécaye is an Economic Advisor at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Côte d’Ivoire. He served in this same role in the Central African Republic (CAR) from 2009 to 2012 and in Mali from 2013 to 2019. Becaye holds a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) from Jean Moulin University of Lyon III (France) and a Master’s Degree in Economics from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium). He began his career as a Researcher at the Department of the University of Brussels in Applied Economics (DULBEA) from 1998 to 1999, then as Marketing Manager at the Senegalese National Company Lottery from 2000 to 2002. From 2003 to 2008, he was the Director of Business Development at the Agency for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises, thus dealing with the financing and upgrading of businesses.

Idrissa Diagne

Idrissa is a macroeconomist with basic training in mathematics, statistics and development economics. He is the Economic Advisor of UNDP in Gabon, a position also held in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin, Togo, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire. He also served as Inter-Regional Advisor at UN/DESA in New York and as Senior Technical Advisor in Niger on behalf of UN/DTCD. He is an Economic Statistician Engineer (CESD) of the National School of Statistics and Economic Administration (ENSAE).

Jakob Dirksen

Jakob is part of OPHI's research and outreach teams and the research assistant to OPHI director, Sabina Alkire. He is also lecturer and Research Associate at Leuphana University of Lüneburg. Previously, Jakob held research positions at the Blavatnik School of Government and Mansfield College and worked in diplomacy at the German Foreign Office. His research interests lie in theory and measurement of well-being, poverty and inequalities, sustainable development, and the capability approach.

Rolando Gonzales

Rolando is a consultant for the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), Oxford University. He is working as a postdoc data scientist at HZDR in Germany. He is receiving his PhD(c) at the University of Agder in Norway, and is also working as a Deputy Manager in the Risk Division of BCP Bank called CrediCorp. Previously, he was a consultant for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP). His research interests include socio-economic development, artificial intelligence, machine-learning, Bayesian methods, SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and epistemology.

Ricardo Isea Silva

Ricardo is a development economist with over ten years of professional work experience in international organizations and research centers. Over the last few years, he has worked at UNDP’s Development Policy Bureau, providing technical advice on sustainable development issues and facilitating the Community of Practice (CoP) on Poverty and Inequality. Ricardo is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the New School for Social Research (NY), where he has also worked as a lecturer in Critical Thinking.

Nathalie Milbach-Bouché

Nathalie is the UNDP Senior Strategic Advisor of Arab States at the Regional Hub in Amman. She is a development economist with over 20 years of professional experience in academia, the private sector, the UN and other development partners in more than 40 countries. Before her current role, she served successively as UNDP Inclusive Growth Team Leader for Arab States, UNDP Poverty Practice leader in Arab States and West and Central Africa. She has also served as a UNDP macroeconomic policy specialist for transition economies in Asia-Pacific and has worked as a senior economist for the FAO in Bangladesh, where she supported the National Food Policy Plan of Action and supervised research on food security. Before this, she led an EU-TACIS capacity development project in economic analysis, following five years of service as a teacher/researcher at the University of Auvergne, where she holds a PhD in Development Economics and a Master in project analysis.

Christian Oldiges

Christian currently serves as a Policy Specialist, Inclusive Growth at UNDP, New York. He has over 10 years of experience in development economics, policy advocacy and social protection. Previously, as Director of Policy Research at OPHI, he led on projects in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa to support governments and national bureaus of statistics in developing national multidimensional poverty indices together with UN agencies. In his postdoctoral research at Oxford, Christian wrote extensively on multidimensional poverty and its interlinkages with COVID-19, migration, and conflict, as well as on workfare programmes and food security. Currently, his paper with Sabina Alkire and Usha Kanagaratnam on India’s success in moving more than 270 million people out of multidimensional poverty is being published in World Development.

Renata Pardo

Renata is an economist from Universidad de Los Andes with a master’s degree in Economics from Catholic University of Louvain. Currently working as Inclusive Growth Specialist for the Inclusive Growth and SDG Integrator Cluster of UNDP Panama Regional Hub. She has worked as consultant for different government agencies in Colombia, directly participated in the design of Colombia’s MPI, and was director of the Colombian Longitudinal Survey of Universidad de los Andes – ELCA. More recently, she developed a methodology for micro-simulating the effect of Covid-19 on multidimensional poverty in El Salvador and Ecuador.

Gonzalo Pizarro

Gonzalo joined the UN in October 2005 and currently serves as the Regional Adviser on SDG Integration for Arab States. His previous position was Regional Policy Adviser on SDGs and Human Development for Latin America and the Caribbean, where he led the design and delivery of UNDP’s offer on Inclusive Growth and SDGs, including support on design and use of MPIs at country level and in Middle Income Countries (MICs). He holds a Ph.D. in Water Resources Management from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Columbia University in New York.

Renata Rubian

Renata is a Policy Advisor for Inclusive Sustainable Growth at UNDP. She has over 18 years of experience working with international development for the United Nations, IUCN, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development. Her work focuses on multidimensional poverty and inequality in urban areas, supporting development planning at national and local levels. She leads on policy support to countries for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development using practical tools for SDG implementation.

Isiyaka Sabo

Isiyaka served as UNDP’s Senior Economic Advisor in Madagascar, Comoros, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and in Senegal where he is currently. Before joining UNDP, He was Economist at IMF CO in Niger, Macroeconomist at the West African Development Bank and Director of Economic Reforms and Financial Studies at Niger’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. He holds Diplomas of Engineer in Statistics and Master of Advanced Studies in Economic Policy Management from CERDI of the University of Auvergne Clermont-Ferrand France. He is certified in Economic Development Policies from the Institute of Economic Research and the Economic Planning Agency of Japan.

Rita Sciarra

Rita is an expert in international development and serves as Team Lead for inclusive Growth and Poverty Reduction for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Hub in Panama. She previously served as Strategic Advisor with the UNDP in Mexico supporting the country during its economic recovery process after the earthquake in 2018. Originally from Italy, she is fluent in four languages, with more than 14 years of experience in three different continents, in post-conflict and normal development conditions.

Momina Sohail

Momina works at UNDP as a Communications Officer for the Development Policy Unit, working on the Pakistan National Human Development Report as well as the SDGs Programme. She is a Commonwealth Scholar with a Master’s in Medical Anthropology from the University of Durham, UK. Momina is interested in ethnographically-grounded research, and the impact of opportunity and sensemaking on life outcomes.

Bishwa Nath Tiwari

Bishwa writes UNDP’s flagship reports. He leads the work on human development report, SDGs, multidimensional poverty and social protection in UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, and offers technical and advisory services to UNDP Country Offices in Asia and the Pacific region. Prior to joining Bangkok Regional Hub, he worked at UNDP Nepal and Bangladesh. He started his career as a teacher in Tribhuvan University, Nepal. Bishwa holds a PhD in Economics from University of Rajasthan, India, a Master in Environmental and Resource Economics from University of London, and a Master in Economics from Tribhuvan University, Nepal.

Mansour Ndiaye

Mansour is the head of the Inclusive Growth Team and has over 24 years of experience in economic and social policy making in Africa and beyond as a development economist. Mansour joined UNDP in 2010 as Economic Advisor in Niger. Prior to joining UNDP, Mansour served as an economist at the IMF and has held several management positions with BCEAO. He holds an MSc in Macroeconometric Modeling from the Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l’Administration Economique (ENSAE, ParisTech) and an MSc in Development Economics from the Université d’Auvergne.

Juliana Yael Milovich

Juliana is a researcher within the outreach team of OPHI, supporting governments in their development of national multidimensional poverty indices. She is also part of the Global MPI team, co-leading the work on non-DHS and non-MICS datasets in the Global MPI 2018, 2020 and 2021. She is also lecturer at the Institute of High Studies of Latin America (IHEAL), a multidisciplinary research centre located at the University Sorbonne Nouvelle (France). She holds a PhD in Economics from the University Paris Nanterre. Her current research focuses on the determinants of poverty and well-being and, more precisely, on the (overlapping) deprivations experienced by children in Guatemala.