“The MPI is a great contribution to transparency in public management“

4 February, 2022
Foto: INE Paraguay

Iván Ojeda, a graduate in Administration from the Universidad Nacional de Asunción, and a specialist in Governance, Political Management and Public Sector Management from George Washington University, is the first Director of Paraguay’s newly created National Institute of Statistics (INE). Upon accepting this appointment, Ojeda took on a double challenge: founding this new institution and supporting the process for the development of the new National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in Paraguay. In this interview, Ojeda talks about the main challenges involved in the creation of Paraguay’s MPI, and its importance for public policy.

What was the process of creating the MPI like?

The creation process required about two years of intense work. First of all, the Poverty Committee was enlarged, to face the challenge of building the MPI, with the participation of Paraguayan government agencies, public policymakers and implementers, international organisations, independent research centres in Paraguay, and, of course, independent researchers who had been studying the development of the methodology for a long time. There were 14 meetings of the General Technical Committee, as well as 21 bilateral meetings held between 18 May 2018 and 28 April 2021.

When forming the Committee, we sought to define: the purpose of the measurement, the unit of analysis, the dimensions, the indicators of the dimensions, the weights of each dimension, the weights of the indicators within each dimension, and also the multidimensional poverty threshold. We wanted to identify who is poor in terms of multidimensional poverty, and finally define a communications plan.

That was the process we followed to conclude with the launch, where we were honoured and privileged by the presence of both Sabina Alkire and Gonzalo Hernández Licona.

What challenges did you face in making the Multidimensional Poverty Index?

A lot of challenges and limitations, ranging from the economic ones to the ones related to methodology, and even legal limitations at some point. But we overcame all of them.

Another limitation was obviously the issue of the pandemic. We had planned to launch our National MPI a year earlier, but this complex context that the world is experiencing today meant that we delayed the launch a little bit. However, we continued working, we carried on with the construction and validation, and finally we were able to make it happen.

Another important challenge we had was the demand from the civil society and the citizens to have a complementary measurement, or a measurement that would give us a much more comprehensive vision of the problem of poverty in Paraguay. Therefore, we set out to also have these measurements, so that Paraguay grows and consolidates with a very robust, sound methodology, and, finally, this was also added to another milestone that Paraguay had, which is the modernisation of our laws.

After 78 years, Paraguay has a National Institute of Statistics (INE). Previously, it operated as the General Directorate of Statistics, Surveys and Censuses, and, as of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, we managed to promulgate a law, which is one of the most modern in the world and in the region, with many reinforcements in principles. Through this new law, INE is the governing body and coordinator of the national statistical system, which greatly strengthened the MPI process.

And in technical terms, did you face any major challenges?

Yes, the biggest challenge was to achieve consensus, because here we had decision-makers or institutions, public policy generators, public policy implementers, international organisations, and also users or researchers, so this enlarged committee had to come to an agreement. The great victory that Paraguay has had is to show that we can agree on some issues, with members from well-defined, very different sectors, but with a common goal: to provide the country and the users with a complementary measurement of monetary poverty, which is the MPI.

Firstly, we agreed on the dimensions. In this sense, the determining factor was to identify the source of information. In this case, the Permanent Household Survey is the starting point for our MPI, since this kind of survey had been applied for some years.

Behind each dimension and behind each indicator, there is a very specific public policy. So, this tool not only helps us to visualise the situation in the dimensions of Labour and Social Security, Housing and Services, Health and Environment, and Education, but also helps us to monitor the public policies that aim to influence these indicators.

Another challenge was the economic issue. Sometimes it was necessary to hire specialists, to cover their costs of travel and accommodation. Although OPHI did not set any conditions or charge for many things, there are basic logistical costs that have to be covered, and international organisations, such as the World Bank, the UNDP, and OPHI helped a lot in this process.


We can share experiences not only in measurement, but also in the implementation of programmes, and in the formulation of policies, so that we have the same impact.

The legal challenge was the creation of the National Statistics Institute (INE), because under the new law it is clearer, for example, that the INE is responsible for the coordination of the national statistical system, which has the obligation to provide information to the Institute.

What uses will this MPI of Paraguay have in terms of public policy or other uses by the State?

The first is that today, after 24 years of measuring monetary poverty, users have a much broader picture of the poverty issue.

Secondly, it will be a key tool to address the postpandemic period. We know that we have to go at a different pace. We can no longer go at the pace we have been going at, because today the world, the planet, is facing a global crisis, which is the pandemic.

Therefore, we have to move at a much faster pace, much more effectively, but in order to know where we want to go, we have to have a starting point, and here the MPI is of fundamental importance, as it gives us a very clear baseline. It provides decision-makers and policymakers with the elements, or the dimensions and indicators, that must be improved.

We clearly know that we have to expand our sanitation system, or that we have to reduce unemployment, or that we have to improve the quality of our housing materials, or that we have to try to ensure people no longer live in overcrowded homes. So, every public institution, every governmental and non-governmental body will know what they have to do, and everything will be stipulated.

The MPI is a great contribution to transparency in public management. Citizens demand greater efficiency in public spending, and the MPI aims to achieve this. We, public officials, aim for greater efficiency in public spending, so that citizens can see and feel that it is worthwhile paying their taxes. Nowadays, Paraguay has a tax burden of around 13%. We are far below many countries, and there are still many demands, so this is another great benefit that the MPI will bring.

It also helps us to set a milestone, so why not enjoy this success we have achieved after 24 years? And we have to highlight the effectiveness of international cooperation, as well. Opening up, allowing international agencies and organisations to enter our national statistics offices, or INE Paraguay, and transparently showing them everything we have, inviting them to show us the latest trends in methodological matters, is also evidence that there is effective and positive international cooperation so that our countries can all improve our measurements.

Another great success, another great benefit or advantage is that we have generated national technical capacity. Thanks to the participation of OPHI, today there is a national capacity in Paraguay for monitoring or for the permanent evaluation of the measurement.

We also have the inputs to be comparable with other countries, and this is another great advantage, because if we have a problem of housing materials, a problem of overcrowding or a problem of sanitation, we can ask our colleague countries who monitor this what they have done to improve this measurement. In other words, we say to them “we have this problem: what have you done to solve it?” and we can share experiences not only in measurement, but also in the implementation of programmes, and in the formulation of policies, so that we have the same impact.

Obviously, there are asymmetries between countries, and there are very specific characteristics of each country, but there are also common issues. For example, there is this endemic phenomenon of poverty, or the endemic problem of informal employment in Latin America and the Caribbean, where it is around 55%. Paraguay today has an informality rate of 65%. These are common issues to our countries. They are challenges that we face as a country, and also as a region.

We are very happy because every day we find a new use for the MPI.


This interview was published in Dimensions 13


More on MPI-Paraguay.


Multidimensional Poverty National MPI Paraguay