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Poverty Mapping in Bhutan

November 1, 2010

November 1, 2010 - The report provides new insights into geographic distribution of poverty in Bhutan and improves data collection, identifying pockets of poverty and affluence so assistance can be more efficiently provided to those living in lagging areas.

Executive Summary

Small Area Estimation (SAE) of Poverty in Rural Bhutan undertaken in close collaboration with the Royal Government of Bhutan to provide a more localized picture of poverty down to the gewog (block) level. The analysis was carried for the purpose of effective resource allocation to all the gewogs. Generally, poor gewogs tend to have limited access to markets and road networks. Furthermore, the poverty incidence of each gewog is highly associated with school attendance of children and rural electrification.

Section 1: Introduction

Over the past 10 years, Bhutan has performed remarkably well in reducing poverty. However, vast differences in poverty levels persist. In order to fulfill Bhutan’s development philosophy of gross national happiness, and poverty reduction, it is essential to understand its geographic and spatial patterns. In the case of Bhutan, its land-locked geography and sparse population pose major challenges for poverty reduction. Poverty maps will help the government and development partners locate pockets of poverty which might otherwise be overlooked.

Section 2: Poverty Mapping Model

The section explores the methodology of poverty mapping. Historically, poverty has been measured by using sample survey consumption data, in which household per capita expenditures are compared against a poverty line. In order to estimate poverty at a disaggregated level, the Bhutan team selected the Small Area Estimation method developed by Elbers to produce statistically reliable poverty estimates at the gewog level.

Section 3: Poverty Mapping Results

This section shares the results of the study through a number of graphs and charts. The rural poverty rates range from 6 percent in Bjachho gewog to 55 percent in Logchina gewog. In terms of policy implications, poverty maps are useful to identify such pockets of poverty and also of wealth. It is useful to fine-tune policies and resource allocation for each small area.

Section 4: Conclusion

Poverty mapping is a powerful tool to illustrate the geography of poverty at the gewog level; it can help identify pockets of poverty, as well as pockets of affluence. Its use can be broadened by combining it with other GIS databases such as human development, agriculture, and transportation. Geographical presentation of these development indicators can be valuable for designing and planning poverty alleviation strategies.