Agricultural Development Economics


Choosing a method for poverty mapping
Benjamin Davis
Publication date
Poverty and food security are heterogeneous phenomena in most countries; types and depth of poverty, measured in different ways, vary between and within countries and regions. Poverty mapping in its various forms involves techniques that permit sufficient disaggregation of a poverty measure to local administrative levels or small geographical units. All poverty-mapping techniques imply alternative schemes for weighting a particular poverty index, and may imply alternative poverty ranking of the chosen unit. The methods used vary from participatory poverty profiles to sophisticated econometric techniques; most are under continuing development. Each has different data requirements and implementation costs, and different advantages and disadvantages. Statistical error and possible bias are significant issues in poverty mapping. The purpose of this paper is to discuss poverty and food-security mapping in terms of relevance and available options for analysis, policy design and implementation in the rural sectors of developing countries. The paper presents and compares the range of poverty and food-security mapping methodologies in use in order to provide guidance as to their potential and appropriateness in different policy applications. This is done by studying in detail a number of applications of poverty mapping to policy questions.