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Leave No One Behind Case Study

Transformative action to leave no one behind

14 Jun 2017byHaoliang Xu, Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP

We live in a dynamic world, where great progress has been made. Yet the gulf between rich and poor is widening, and the natural world is under ever greater threat. That’s why we need to make development more sustainable and inclusive, as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its pledge to “leave no one behind”.

It means that our interventions have to be transformative. They need to reach large numbers of people and strengthen the institutions and services that underpin both human and environmental well-being.

UNDP is fully committed to this vision. Indeed, UNDP Asia-Pacific has been through its own transformation, from traditional donor to development advisor and service provider. Ideas and innovation are now intrinsic to the way we work.

We bring together in-house expertise and an extensive network of public and private partners. Thinking and working together allows us to identify solutions to unlock and scale up progress that work across countries at diverse stages of development.

UNDP tracks emerging trends in real time and the insights we gain make our support to countries flexible and highly responsive, enabling countries to grasp new opportunities for sustainable development as they arise.

Here is some of what we have been doing in the Asia-Pacific region:

  • A pilot strategy to reduce poverty rates among slum dwellers in Bangladesh laid the foundation for a new National Urban Poverty Reduction Programme aimed at improving the lives of 6 million people.
  • In China, UNDP helped link the government, the private sector and the Global Environment Facility to reduce carbon emissions from the lighting industry by ramping up the production and marketing of high-efficiency light bulbs.
  • UNDP has helped hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar and the Solomon Islands gain access to financial services for the first time, through traditional models such as microfinance as well as more recent innovations such as banking by mobile phone.
  • Expanded legal services in Mongolia and Timor-Leste mean even people who live in poor and remote rural areas can realize legal rights and protections, often for the first time.

The 2030 Agenda challenges all countries. Yet, as the examples from our new collection of case studies show, solutions are within reach. A new era awaits: that of development benefitting everyone and the world we share.

A pilot strategy to reduce poverty rates among slum dwellers in Bangladesh laid the foundation for a new National Urban Poverty Reduction Programme aimed at improving the lives of 6 million people. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh

Blog postAsia & the PacificDevelopment EffectivenessGovernance and peacebuildingSustainable developmentHaoliang Xu

Key learnings

It is possible to have a poverty identification system that is national in scope, sufficiently accurate, accepted by communities and fully government-funded. The political and financial commitment of the national government, along with a cost-effective, community-based implementation, have allowed Cambodia’s Identification of Poor Households Programme, known as ‘IDPoor’, to scale up and become accepted as the country’s official targeting mechanism for programmes that support the poor.

IDPoor’s transparent, community-led process provides social value and keeps poverty on the political radar. An open, recurrent process like IDPoor brings communities together to talk about poverty, and helps to keep policy makers accountable for improving conditions for the poor and vulnerable.

To build trust in the data it generates, IDPoor needs to involve and be transparent with the stakeholders whom it expects to use the data. Strong monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, and a way to disseminate the findings, are just as important as collecting and providing quality data. Feedback fora or advisory groups can help to engage stakeholders and build confidence in the data so they are used for targeting.

Tension between speed and inclusivity is inherent in targeting mechanisms and needs to be balanced. The merits of ‘quick and digital’ should not necessarily be prioritised over the value of ‘inclusive and participatory’ – ideally, some combination of both should be used to maximise benefit and minimise error and cost according to government and community priorities.

The challenge

Approximately one in five Cambodians lives in poverty. By certain measures of multidimensional poverty, up to 50% of the population are either poor or vulnerable to becoming poor. While market liberalisation in the late 1990s led to rapid economic expansion, not all Cambodians benefited, and newly implemented health service user fees were beyond the reach of many. Through government action and foreign support, numerous social protection programmes for the poor were set up, including free health care and school scholarships. However, each programme and implementing organisation had its own criteria and process to identify the poor. This was inefficient, confusing and often did not reach the most vulnerable populations.

The response

The German government, through GIZ, has supported the Cambodian Ministry of Planning since 2005 to create and implement a new poverty identification mechanism that could serve as a single basis for targeting programmes for the poor. The result-ing programme, called ‘Identification of Poor Households’ or ‘IDPoor’, initially targeted rural areas – where 80% of Cambo dians live – and uses a hybrid model to combine the objectivity of a proxy means test survey with the accuracy and affordability of a community-based selection process. Government agencies and local or international organisations that provide programmes for the poor use IDPoor to target their beneficiaries, as they are now required by law to do.

Starting with a pilot in four communes in 2007, the IDPoor programme settled on a schedule of conducting its process in eight provinces per year, so that all 24 of Cambodia’s provinces are covered over a three-year period.

IDPoor faced a number of challenges and explored innovations to improve its performance. The Ministry of Planning improved implementation support and monitoring to make sure the process was correctly followed. Different definitions and perceptions of poverty raised questions at times about why IDPoor was not identifying some seemingly poor households, so greater out-reach and discussion with IDPoor data users and partners was needed. IDPoor also improved its information management and dissemination capacity by making the IDPoor database accessible online; adding visualisation and mapping features; and expanding interoperability and customised reporting. A pilot of some mobile technologies is also underway. The Ministry of Planning adapted IDPoor for urban settings and rolled out the first full urban round in 2017.

While the three-year cycle is impressive compared to poverty surveys in similar settings, households that miss the IDPoor round in their village must still wait until the next cycle to be evaluated for eligibility. With one in four Cambodians migrating for work, and with many households rapidly cycling in and out of poverty, IDPoor needs a broader way to allow households to apply for IDPoor in between rounds. An ‘On-Demand’ IDPoor mechanism is being piloted starting in late 2017.

What has been achieved

  • IDPoor reaches the whole country: As of 2013 all rural areas have been covered, and the addition of the urban process means that full national coverage will be reached in 2019.
  • IDPoor is fully funded by the Cambodian government for all operations related to rural implementation. This was achieved by early agreement between the Cambodian government, BMZ and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), through contracts that progressively shifted financial responsibility to the Ministry of Planning over time.
  • IDPoor is trusted and represents the community perspective on poverty: In each year, an estimated 1.6 million villagers take part in the selection of their Village Representative Groups (VRG), and 35,000 people participate directly in the IDPoor implementation process. As one Commune Council chief says, ‘We don’t want outsiders to come in and tell us who is poor. We know each other.’
  • The government and partners appreciate IDPoor’s value for programme planning and targeting: More and more partners are using IDPoor for targeting, increasing from 42 projects in 2012 to 136 projects in 2015, or 63% of all development programmes implemented in Cambodia. The Senior Minister of the Ministry of Planning, H.E. Chhay Than, sees this as an indicator of IDPoor’s success: ‘The more partners use IDPoor for their targeting, the more interventions reach the people who need them.’

IDPoor in a nutshellCopyright© BMZ

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