Most countries around the world define poverty as the lack of money. However, the poor themselves consider their experience of poverty much more broadly. A person who is poor can suffer multiple disadvantages at the same time – for example they may have poor health or malnutrition, a lack of clean water or electricity, poor quality of work or little schooling. Focusing on one factor alone, such as income, is not enough to capture the true reality of poverty.
Multidimensional poverty measures can be used to create a more comprehensive picture. They reveal who is poor and how they are poor – the range of different disadvantages they experience. As well as providing a headline measure of poverty, multidimensional measures can be broken down to reveal the poverty level in different areas of a country and among different sub-groups of people.