Honduras uses a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index for policy targeting

3 December, 2020

By Maya Evans and Mónica Pinilla-Roncancio


The Government of Honduras has launched a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) to provide electronic vouchers for food, medicines and biosafety equipment targeted to independent workers and self-employed persons hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MVI measures who is most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 according to a number of overlapping variables, including the risk the virus poses to their health, and the financial consequences of pandemic measures adopted by the government on their households. It is one of the first tools of its kind in the world to identify individuals eligible for receiving support using a multidimensional approach.

Developed in Honduras, in partnership with the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the MVI offers a new and technically robust methodology to increase transparency in social protection programming, providing a robust targeting method ensuring that the vouchers reach the people who need them most.

The MVI works by identifying the most vulnerable individuals in one of the following categories: self-employed, unemployed, employed without social security and employer without social security. Using the Alkire-Foster method, developed in Oxford, the MVI highlights individuals facing multiple vulnerabilities to COVID-19 across 15 indicators categorised under four dimensions. If an individual is vulnerable according to 35% or more of these indicators, they are considered eligible for the voucher.

The President of Honduras, Juan-Orlando Hernández, said that the Single Voucher based on the MVI measure ‘represents a milestone. It will bring much more social benefit and inclusion to the different population sectors. A rigorous work, with high standards of transparency, is being made throughout the process in collaboration with UNDP. This is the money of the Honduran people directed in favour of those most affected by the pandemic. It represents an opportunity for the Government to fulfill its promise of social justice’.

The first dimension – belonging to a high-risk population – aims to capture households with the highest risk of getting infected by COVID-19. The second dimension – health, food security and household characteristics – aims to capture individuals who are living in precarious conditions or have faced food insecurity. The third dimension – economic resilience – aims to capture households’ ability to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 by liquidating their assets or having access to financial services. Finally, the fourth dimension of employment aims to capture individual vulnerability to the financial shock, with indicators relating to the type of employment they have, the sector they work in, and their access to social security. In most cases, the indicators relating to employment contributed the most to the MVI.

The structure of the measure is the product of multiple consultations with national institutions and international organisations. Nine different structures were analysed and their results compared, before the final structure of the measure was confirmed. The MVI is, therefore, robust to changes in the structure, weights, and vulnerability cut-offs.

The MVI is computed using data from the National Register of Participants (Registro Único de Participantes, RUP), which covers 1.5 million households, and represents 40% of the poorest population in Honduras. In addition, a bespoke online questionnaire was created for self-registration and additional registrations were made through a range of unions and different religious institutions and currently individuals can self-register using the web page designed for this purpose.

The first round of identified beneficiaries received the e-voucher in October. Over coming months, 260,000 people will receive a single electronic voucher redeemable in selected establishments around the country for food, medicines and biosafety equipment.


Dimensions and indicators of the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI)

Source: UNDP-Honduras.


This article was published in Dimensions 11


Honduras IVM Multidimensional Vulnerability MVI National Multidimensional Measures PNUD UNDP