AusAID 'mapping' poverty at local level in Fiji

    A street in Suva, the capital of Fiji. Poverty mapping of the country will help guide the Australian Agency for International Development's efforts to deliver health, education and economic opportunities to the poorest communities. Photo by: kyle post / CC BY

    Development efforts on poverty reduction are widespread, but often fail to make the planned impact due to lack of detailed information at a local level.

    How can donors and aid implementers figure out where the specific communities they should target are, and what services they need?

    The Australian Agency for International Development is reporting good results in Fiji through “poverty mapping,” a technique based on a World Bank method that combines national census data and household income and expenditure survey data to find where the poorest communities really are.

    In Fiji, AusAID has for the first time made detailed estimates of poverty at a district level across a whole nation, using data from the national census and expenditure figures. Apart from the poverty maps, the agency was able to gather new information on poverty incidence in the country according to different household and individual characteristics, which helps to better track the root causes and what determines poverty in Fiji.

    “This approach is distinct from previous poverty estimates, which were based solely on reported income … [We] included information on household expenditure in addition to income to measure consumption. As a result, [we can now] identify variations in [the] cost of living in different parts of Fiji and provide a more comprehensive account of poverty,” an AusAID spokesperson told Devex.

    The poverty maps will help guide the agency’s efforts to deliver health, education and economic opportunities to Fiji’s poorest people, explained the spokesperson. A similar survey is already being conducted in Vanuatu, and Kiribati and other Pacific island nations will soon follow.

    AusAID staff also provide technical assistance to local officials, including  training in poverty analysis software, as part of the agency’s strategy to engage local partners and build their capacity to do the work on their own in the future. 

    Feedback from local partners in Fiji, the spokesperson noted, has so far been generally positive, as the detailed poverty maps can spark a national debate on policies and plans for the country’s development.

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    About the author

    • Carlos Santamaria

      Carlos is a former associate editor for breaking news in Devex's Manila-based news team. He joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE ,and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York, and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.