MEASURE U.P. began as a way to get around doing a science fair project; we knew that we weren’t as passionate about traditional science as we were about social sciences, and wanted to create something that was more geared towards our interests, including poverty reduction. As a result, we utilized our previous knowledge about the UN Multidimensional Poverty Index, as well as our observations, to investigate and expand upon the concept of measuring urban poverty.
Poverty is a multifaceted, vicious cycle that is not only about income. Those living in poverty are often trapped within it, both by stigma and by the many deprivations with which they are faced. The United Nations’ World Bank set the international poverty line at $1.90/day, or $13.30/week, when the reality is that this is hardly enough for households living in rural poverty, let alone in urban poverty. In addition, urban poverty is seldom measured in a way that comprehensively and multidimensionally examines poverty , and instead focuses on its monetary aspects. While the UN’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is used to measure the indices of over one hundred less developed countries around the globe, the contributing indicators are all very basic—they cannot be applied to populations living in urban poverty, especially those in more developed countries.
MEASURE U.P. seeks to multidimensionally measure urban poverty, by creating ten more applicable indicators and modifying the UN MPI formulas to fit them. Specifically, two education, three healthcare, and five living condition indicators were researched, analyzed, and proven to form a comprehensive picture of urban poverty in more developed countries. Furthermore, this project seeks to utilise proposed indicators to develop the structure for an organisation called HELP U.P., which would connect urban companies, industries and inhabitants with urban poor in need of loans. Modeled after successful microfinance social enterprises such as Kiva, and investment companies such as CircleUp, organizations like HELP U.P. could play a large part in the future of Canadian poverty reduction. If founded, HELP U.P. would put indices into practice, raise mean levels of proposed indicators, allow companies to engage in community betterment, and foster personal relationships and empathy development across wealth inequality gaps.
As with any innovation, modifications and extensions are continually being developed for MEASURE U.P. and HELP U.P. Since we are not extremely proficient in statistics, economics, business, or even poverty reduction, we cannot guarantee that our methodology is reliable, or that the company’s structure could be sustainably and successfully put into practice. On the other hand, raising individual indicators can only do so much; at the end of the day, any efforts to measure, monitor, and reduce poverty cannot be fully effective without government support. Moreover, occurrences including the status of water on most First Nations reserves are far beyond most of the challenges faced by the urban poor. These incidences must be addressed immediately, and without restrictions. We have proposed possible approaches towards measuring and solving poverty, yet without a collective agreement to implement them, our hands are tied.
We hope to continue to expand and develop our ideas in order to create a system in which poverty isn’t only looked at through numbers and statistics, but also through the deficits and the daily challenges that people living in poverty face. We strive to bring our lens of empathy, positivity and understanding to everything that we do, and since MEASURE U.P. is now a published initiative of the Hopelyfe Movement, it is no exception. You can read more about MEASURE U.P. here, and as usual, we would love to receive any feedback you have for us.