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Poverty mapping to support development in Bhutan

Bhutan: World Bank team has done poverty mapping of Bhutan in collaboration with Bhutan’s National Statistics Bureau (NSB) and the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC).

The team uses a “Small Area Estimation” method developed by Elbers et al. (2003). This method uses both the 2005 Population Census and the 2007 household living standard survey (BLSS) to produce reliable poverty estimates at lower levels of disaggregation than existing survey data permits. In case of Bhutan, the team managed to come up with reliable poverty estimates at the sub-district (known as Gewog in Bhutan) level.

Experts believe that they can learn more from the poverty map by comparing it with other maps such as maps of transport networks, locations of public service centres and market access. Using the poverty map can also help identify the kind of investments necessary to lift such areas out of poverty. For example, by putting the poverty map along with a map of market accessibility indicator, they can learn about the pattern.

Looking at the two maps, one can see a correlation between poverty and accessibility. In general, poor areas tend to have low access to markets and poor connection to road networks. It is also worth noting that the maps only show correlations, and not causal relationships.

As of now, the GNHC has been using the poverty estimates at the Gewog level to allocate annual block grants.

Source: World Bank