Poverty has many faces, changes from place to place and across time, and has been described in many ways” (World Bank, 1995). The statement gives us the impression that poverty has various meanings, is calculated in various ways, and resolved in various ways as well. This article will try to provide a concise explanation of how poverty is interpreted in various perspectives, both global, national and local.
Mowafi (2015) formulated four concepts of poverty that are generally widely used in academic literature and international institutions, namely poverty as seen from income (income poverty ), the quality of human resources ( human poverty ), loss of ability ( capabilities deprivation ), and the concept of participatory from the poor ( voice of the poor ).
Income poverty, looking at poverty in two approaches. First, the absolute approach, which is calculating poverty based on minimum standards of need, for example income of 1.9 dollars per day. Those who have an income of less than 1.9 dolat per day per person are said to fall into the category of poor people. In 2015, the World Bank noted that 10% of the world’s population was classified as poor because it had an income of less than 1.9 dollars per day. Second, the relative approach, which is looking at individual poverty or a particular society relative to all existing communities. Of the two approaches, the absolute approach is considered the easiest method and is often used as an indicator to reduce poverty levels in the world, while the relative approach is rarely used as a reference in poverty alleviation programs,
Critics of the concept of absolute poverty which states that poverty can not only be seen from the income of 1.9 dollars but must better understand where the money is spent, because many people are found experiencing malnutrition, inability to read, and death at a young age, where the condition is not as well as necessarily can be seen from the absolute income. Responding to these weaknesses, UNDP uses poverty calculation methods by looking at human quality as seen from short life, lack of access to education, public access, and access to other resources (Mowafi, 2015). This human poverty approach looks more at human welfare indicators and provides insights for making investment policies that target health, education, employment, and other public access.
Kakwani (2006) introduced a new concept to see poverty by using the concept of loss of capabilities ( capabilities deprivation ). This loss of ability is defined as the loss of its ability to adequately control the resources in the market, the public, and other channels. Examples of capabilities deprivationis a rich person who experiences a disaster and then results in disability causing the person to be unable to carry out economic or social activities. People who are not able are then considered to be poor because their income is reduced. This concept is interesting as additional information to find out what causes poverty to occur, so that policies not only focus on structural issues, but also important to anticipate the possibility of poverty due to capabilities deprivation.
The study report revealed by Mowafi (2015) also explained that in the global academic debate there was a strong push to include the perspective of the poor in the process of establishing a practical and relevant definition of poverty. Voices of the Poor is based on the premise that “the poor are true poverty experts,” this study systematically analyzes open qualitative data obtained by using participatory methods to look for the poorest priorities of the poor in describing their reality. This study was later developed by the World Bank, although to date policies for measuring poverty are still dominated by absolute income calculations.
Notions of poverty in the global perspective are not all adopted by a country. Each country has its own interests in defining poverty according to the economic, political and social conditions of its population. For example, Canada, this country does not have a formal method of calculating poverty, they define low income residents who have less than half of the median income of the population and 14.9% of Canada’s population live in poverty (Sharpe, 2016). This percentage is higher than the level of Indonesia’s poor population of 10%. However, the average income of the Canadian population is much higher than that of Indonesia, so that the poor population in Canada is not necessarily classified as poor in Indonesia.
In Indonesia, there are many definitions of poverty, but formal data used to show poverty rates are using the poverty method calculated by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS). the criteria for poor families using the BPS method using the basic needs approach(basic desire), this is because poverty is seen as an inability from the economic side to meet basic food and non-food needs. Food sufficiency limit is calculated from the amount of rupiah spent on food that meets the minimum energy needs of 2100 calories per capita per day. Non-food sufficiency limit is calculated from the amount of rupiah spent on non-food that meets minimum needs such as housing, clothing, health, education, transportation, etc. BPS also determines 14 criteria for poor households that include food and non-food criteria.
Every poverty alleviation program in Indonesia basically uses this BPS poverty base data, but is modified according to the objectives of the program, for example to cut intergenerational poverty, so the calculation of the poor who receive direct assistance is intended to improve the lives of the next generation of poor families For example, the Family Hope Program assistance is only specifically for child education, health of pregnant women, toddler health, although it also does not rule out the possibility for poor elderly people and disabled patients.
The definition of poverty that is used at the national level, does not necessarily show poverty in a local perspective. As an illustration, the Baduy people when viewed using BPS criteria can be categorized in the poor population, because the type of floor they live in is made of soil, the walls of the house are made of bamboo, do not have defecation facilities, household lighting sources do not use electricity, water sources drink from wells / unprotected springs / rivers / rain water, etc. Even so, the poverty experienced by the Baduy is not entirely due to economic incapacity, because they actually have customary land for shelter and agricultural activities where the results are sufficient to meet the needs of all the Badut people, poverty here is more due to behavior in upholding adat. From the perspective of the causes of poverty, cultural factors that cause the Baduy to be poor.
The difference in poverty in global, national and local perspectives illustrates that poverty reduction policies at the global level cannot necessarily be applied to a country or even to the local level. Increasing school participation in the Baduy is not suitable because the Baduy culture prohibits their children from being exposed to modernization including schools. A deeper understanding of poverty is needed to implement poverty alleviation programs, the use of quantitative data such as those used by the World Bank and BPS also needs to be enriched with qualitative data to find out the poorest priorities of the poor in describing their reality as in the voice of the poor approach .