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My reflection on Tigray Poverty Status Reports and Early Warning

My reflection on Tigray Poverty Status Reports and Early Warning

Hailai Abera Weldeslassie††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2018/10/21

I was watching the Tigray Government Parliament (Performance Reporting (2017/18) and Annual Plan 2018/19).

Funning enough, I was encouraged by the improvements and positive steps to make the discussions frank, open, fair, balanced and Productive. You would not believe that there seem to show limited efforts to demonstrate the check and balance exercises that are hallmarks of a democratic government. I must be honest that even the people who used to be passive, mumbles, and feckless people seem to be activated and showed some productive interactions much better than during the Tsegay and Abay cold and passive lost years (remember that I was in the parliament for almost two years -exactly 18 months- in a paid internship sponsored by the Inter-African group). For this infinitesimal positive change, I give the credit to the new leadership. 

In the middle of the discussion, what particularly caught my attention was that Debretsionís (PhD) optimistic commitment that the region is planning and committed to slashing poverty by 2 percentage point every year. If realized, this would be a very positive step and leap forward towards, resolving socioeconomic problems, gigantic unemployment and obliterating poverty in the next 25-30 years.

However, Debritsís claim that the poverty profile of the state is 29% should not only be taken with a big grain of salt in it but also it is ridiculous and laughable. Is this really a big deal? Yes. This is painfully worrying that they are going to use an erroneous, misrepresented an inaccurate and invalid baseline that will lead to a wrong planning and non-optimal resources allocation decision criteria. 

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Two points here

(1) With 95% of confidence level, I argue that the poverty profile of Tigray has never been less than 35 percentage point. Depending on the various methodologies applied, employed datasets, the selection of the poverty line and on the axiom and assumptions in assembling the overall poverty profile:
(a) Using the unidimensional ( income, consumption expenditure and KCalories intake, subjective and so forth); estimation results of the poverty measurement and analysis studies conducted in Tigray reveal that Headcount ratio (number of poor people in the population); on average, ranges between 39-43.5 percentage point which is much higher than what was presented in the official report today.

(b) According to the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI), Oxford University commonly known as the Alkire-Foster (AF) Approach; which considers not only income but also the overlapping deprivations in other dimensions such as education, health, living standards, womenís empowerment, planetary issues, and social networking and community participation. According to the OPHI, MPI approach, the MPI indices in Tigray ranges from 75-83 %, MPI Headcount ratio (i.e. the percentage of people who experience overlapping multidimensional deprivation and are poor). For a more information please look at the summary table below.

(2) Another troubling issues to note, while the world is advancing and pooling resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2016-2030), Agenda 2063 (AU strategic Plan) and the sustained and sustainable Green Economic Growth, where the pillar objective are eradicating chronic/extreme poverty for all people, everywhere and in all of its forms and shapes; end all forms of hunger, malnutrition and ensure accesses by all people by 2030 being the two top priorities among the 17 SDGs; Tigray seems entirely detached from the globe and doing business as usual, using primitive approaches while dealing with poverty.

Mind you, if we are going to adopt the SDG, poverty is not only going to be measured and analyzed multidimensionally (which now stands somewhere between 75-83 %), but also hunger and children malnutrition must be deracinated and sustained, and sustainable inclusive Green Economic Growth and prosperity should be promoted. These need pooling and soliciting huge resources (from billions to trillions of monies in US dollars-financial capital), skilled, enabled and experienced people (intellectual capital), Infrastructure, technology and innovation (disruptive technology and hi-tech, and hardware and software capital), harmonizing and coordinating social and cultural capital etc.

Therefore, I would like to politely, respectfully and kindly implore (in the name of the Lord) the Government of Tigray and Dr Debretsion to be vigilant, pool all sources of credible and valid information into consideration and exhaust all windows of opportunities in designing a big push grand economic plan for the next 25-30 years! Nevertheless, if our baseline for drawing the roadmap of the next strategic plan is going to count on the distorted, faked, manipulated and cooked data, I am not a special fortune teller, but I can speculate that we are planning to fall! 

In my view, thanks to the patriotic and valor people of Tigray; against all odds, there has positive energy and optimism in our ecosystem and natural habitat. We thank the Tigray people, the gallant security who put their dearest lives online to protect, defend and uphold the sovereignty, pride, identity, culture, history, civilization, values, traditions and points of pride of our people. 

Nonetheless now, on this milestone and critical time, we need a leader who not theorizes so much in confined office, holds unprofitable and unproductive meetings ("
ትንጎሾምንተገመድልኾነለይብተኽገምጋምወዲገምጋምመላህመሚክቡርወዲሰብ" but someone who takes up all responsibilities, decides on time based on a calculated risk, lead us by example and shows us (demonstrates) all that has been said (talked) how it is done! 

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