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Developing a poverty index for African economies using the consensual approach : the case of Mashonaland West, Zimbabwe.

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This thesis is articles-based submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. It consists of articles that were submitted and published, and others that were submitted and awaiting comments. This thesis makes a contribution to the ongoing debate on the most appropriate method of measuring poverty for interventionist purposes in rural areas. It is infonned by the Zimbabwe experience that income-based measures may not always adequately target those most in need of social support. A new approach is posited that focuses on the nonincome component of poverty. The aim is to assist 'technocrats' to better target the poor in need of a social safety net in crisis situations. The search is for a 'credible' measure that will be acceptable to various interest groups including the poor. Thus the proposed measure derived by means of a consensual approach meets this objective. The literature review describes and discusses the weaknesses of conventional poverty measures, divided into two broad categories of those pre- and post-dating Sen's introduction of the capability concept. The thesis then uses these to explore the conventional approaches (the dominant income measures) and flag their operational deficiencies, and then postulates an asset threshold model, the minimally adequate asset level (MAAL), based on the consensual approach. It also postulates the Poverty Diagnostic Model (PDM) which helps to describe and analyse factors that impact poverty at the individual level and helps in unpacking the linkages between the detenninants of poverty given its multi-dimensionality and how these are conditioned by both internal and external factors. Additionally to the contributions, this thesis posits drawing asset-poverty lines as well as combined asset and income poverty lines as a new contribution to yield asset-based Foster-Greer- Thorbecke (FGT) index, asset-income FGT index, networth FGT index and asset-gini coefficient. It also provides new tools with differentiating capacity to identify those who are either asset poor or income poor or both; as well as those who are 'networth poor', understood as asset-income threshold less debt. It advocates scaling of assets to enable capturing of the asset-holding of the poorest of the poor to fonn intensity scales on which an asset threshold is based. A further contribution of this thesis is the introduction of the notion of enclavity within a family around husband/wife relationships as a new fonn of resilience/collectivity due to deepening poverty. There is evidence to suggest that ethics and networks breakdown as a result of poverty. The final contribution of this thesis is the definition of a poverty line on the basis of an asset threshold using the consensual approach as postulated by Mack and Lansley (1985): thus this thesis posits an asset-by-asset point index.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2008.


Poverty--Zimbabwe., Poverty--Measurement., Theses--Development studies., Zimbabwe--Economic conditions.