In the summer of last year, I went on what was my first mission and my first time in Africa ever. During the build-up to the mission I was excited, stressed and eager to start whatever was awaiting me. Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world according to the World Bank. When using the international threshold of 1.25$ per day, 74% of the children are living in monetary poor households. The main objective of the project consisted of conducting a child poverty analysis contextualized to the Burundi norms and standards. This in order to provide policy recommendations and to come up with baseline for the Sustainable Development Goals 1.1.2.
Once we arrived in Bujumbura, my colleague and I met several stakeholders from ministries (education, nutrition, civil rights and information), UNICEF, WFP, and University of Burundi amongst others. After receiving input from all the various agencies, we were able to better understand the local context and we agreed together as to which indicators and dimensions reflect child poverty in Burundi. A select group comprising of local statisticians and researchers was introduced to the MODA methodology and its application on Stata. At the end of the first training we produced the Multidimensional Child Poverty Rate in Burundi for the purpose of monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals 1.1.2. The aim is to reduce this figure by at least half by 2030. On the second mission, the same participants were further trained in calculating and interpreting monetary and non-monetary poverty analysis results. The mission ended with a presentation of the final results where all key stakeholders were invited to. Everyone was satisfied with the obtained outcomes and ministries were looking forward to collaborate together, applying a cross-sectorial approach.
Immediately after the second mission in Burundi, we started with the next project, which was the inception mission for the Child Poverty study in Rwanda. Coming from Burundi, Kigali was extremely well developed, that I almost could not believe we only travelled 40 minutes by plane between the two countries.
Rwanda has a completely different story from Burundi. The civil war has left his imprint on its population; hard work and pressure are considered self-evident and together they aspire to build a brighter and better future. Our partners at UNICEF and the National Institute of Statistics in Rwanda (NISR) believe that investing in children’s well-being is a crucial part of these efforts.
For the first time as SPRI, we collaborated with Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI). The OPHI team are measuring and analyzing the adult poverty rate in Rwanda, while we are focusing on child poverty. We used the DHS (Demographic and Health Survey) 2014-2015 database for children under 5 years old and a national household dataset for children aged 15-17 years (EICV 2013-2014). In addition to a standard N-MODA analysis, we carried out a trend analysis, comparing the results from 2010 with results from 2014-2015. This is to show the growth Rwanda already made in the last years, given that it is one of the countries that made the most progress in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the main purpose of the project is to set a baseline for the future in context of the SDGs.
Like in Burundi, the Sustainable Development Goals are considered very important to the national poverty reduction strategy of these countries. To invest in the most vulnerable children now and target several problems at the same time will help lower the multidimensional poverty rate by 2030. In January-February 2017, we followed up the inception mission by intensively training some statisticians of the National Institute of Statistics in Rwanda (NISR) over a period of 2 weeks. The training took place in Huye in the South of Rwanda. It was an instructive collaboration where everyone learned from each other.
Two different projects, bringing each its own unique experiences. Although both countries are geographically so close to each other, they have their own history and narrative to tell. This underlines the importance of a national study (N-MODA). Child poverty needs to be contextualized to local settings in order to come up with a tailored and customized analysis. During both projects, I was able to learn so much being outside of my comfort zone, got to go places I would never go on my own and met the most interesting and warm people.