The report recently released by the United Nations Development Programme and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) dwelling on who these people are states that in rural areas 82.4% of poor people who are deprived in school attendance live in households that are also deprived in housing, and 84.7% live in households that are also deprived in cooking fuel, whereas in urban areas the percentages are around 45% per cent and 41%.
“In both rural and urban areas nutritional deprivation is rampant, with around 60% of people experiencing it,” the . report states. However, the report also highlighted that schooling programmes such as the midday cooked meals scheme have played a role in addressing some interlinked deprivations affecting out-of-school children while also supporting their educational attainment.
Poverty causes many forms of social and economic disparities. The UNDP report only reaffirms how village school children are far worse off than their urban counterparts. Policy planners should act accordingly to reduce this disparity. NGOs too can contribute their bit.
Even as 415 million people exited multidimensional poverty in India in 15 years (2005/06 to 2019/21) with the incidence of poverty declining sharply fom 55% to 16.4%, the Index shows that the country despite what is cited to be a “tremendous gain and a historic change” continues to have the largest number of poor people worldwide (228.9 million in 2020). On trends in poverty reduction the report highlights that rural areas were the poorest and saw the fastest reduction in MPI value. The incidence of poverty fell from 36.6% in 2015/2016 to 21.2% in 2019/2021 in rural areas and from 9% to 5.5% in urban areas.
However, stark urban-rural disparities remain a concern as the report states that the percentage of people who are poor is around 21% in rural areas compared with 5.5% in urban areas. “Rural areas account for nearly 90% of poor people: 205 million of the nearly 229 million poor people live in rural areas -making them a clear priority,” it is highlighted.