Report: COVID-19 reversing gains made in fighting poverty in Ukraine and worldwide

October 12, 2021

The impact of the pandemic has been greatest in countries worst affected by multidimensional poverty, exacerbating existing weaknesses and exposing new ones, according to new research

Kyiv, 12 October 2021 – The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed cracks in social protections systems, education, and workers’ vulnerability in Ukraine and around the world, undoing some of the progress made in fighting poverty, a new report on global multidimensional poverty has found.

The report – the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for 2021, produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) – measures poverty by considering various deprivations experienced by people in their daily lives, including poor health, insufficient education and a low standard of living.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has eroded development progress around the world, and we are still grappling to understand its full impacts," says Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. "This year's Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) reminds us of the need for a complete picture of how people are being affected by poverty, who they are and where they live, if we are to build forward better from this crisis and design effective responses that leave no one behind.”

While complete data on COVID-19’s impacts on the MPI are not yet available, the report suggests that those countries with higher levels of multidimensional poverty are likely to have been the worst hit by the pandemic.

In Ukraine, 0.2 percent of the population (107,000 people in 2019) are multidimensionally poor according to the latest available data, the report estimates. The intensity of deprivations in Ukraine, which is the average deprivation score among people living in multidimensional poverty, is 34.4 percent. Ukraine’s MPI value, which is the share of the population that is multidimensionally poor adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations, is 0.001. In comparison, Kazakhstan and Georgia have MPI values of 0.002 and 0.001, respectively.

Though worldwide multidimensional poverty remains high, there were still some encouraging signs of progress in a few countries – at least until the onset of COVID-19. Of the 80 countries and five billion people for which there is data over time, 70 reduced MPI in at least one period, with the fastest changes coming from Sierra Leone (2013–2017), followed by Togo (2013/2014–2017).

Nevertheless, the data paint a grim picture of the day-to-day reality of life for multidimensionally poor people:

 • 1 billion are exposed to solid cooking fuels, another billion live with inadequate sanitation, and another billion have substandard housing.

• 788 million live in a household with at least one undernourished person.

• 568 million lack improved drinking water within a 30-minute roundtrip walk.

“Achieving a future where all people enjoy core capabilities they value and have reason to value requires the global community to fix the structural inequalities that oppress and hinder progress,” says Sabina Alkire, Director of OPHI at the University of Oxford.

“Disaggregating multidimensional poverty data by ethnicity, race, caste and exploring gendered and intrahousehold patterns unmasks disparities and forms a vital guide to policymakers to leave no one behind in the last decade for action.”

Access full data and publication at

Briefing note for countries on the 2021 Multidimensional Poverty Index


UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at or follow at @UNDP.

The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) is an economic research and policy centre within the Oxford Department of International Development at the University of Oxford. OPHI aims to build and advance a more systematic methodological and economic framework for reducing multidimensional poverty, grounded in people’s experiences and values Learn more at or follow at @ophi_oxford

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