History of the IMMP

The IMMP is the result of a portfolio of research undertaken at the Australian National University that commenced in 2008 and has been led by Professor Sharon Bessell and Associate Professor Janet Hunt.

The Assessing Development project (2009-2013) used a three-stage research design, developed by Professor Bessell, to develop a just and justifiable measure of poverty, capable of revealing gender disparities. The first stage of that project involved qualitative research using participatory methods across six countries to identify the dimensions that women and men living in contexts of poverty consider most important. Funded through an Australian Research Council Linkage grant, the Assessing Development project involved partnerships with a range of research institutions and civil society organisations: including the International Women’s Development Agency, Oxfam Southern Africa, the Philippines Health and Social Science Association, the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of Olso. It resulted in a new approach to measuring poverty, called the Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM) during its next phase of development.

From 2016-2020, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provided $11 million to further develop the Measure and test it in a range of countries and contexts. The IDM Program was a partnership between the Australian National University (ANU) and the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA). Research at ANU included further refinement and peer review of the survey tools, development of enumerator training programs, and piloting and cognitive testing of the surveys – culminating in large scale surveys of multidimensional poverty in Indonesia and South Africa, and accompanying qualitative research. The country studies involved partnerships with SurveyMETER, the University of Hasanuddin, KOMPAK, and Puskapa at the University of Indonesia in Indonesia and with ikapadata, the South African Medical Research Council, and the Sexual Violence Initiative in South Africa. ANU then undertook the complex work of constructing a composite index of poverty, led by Associate Professor Janet Hunt with the ANU IDM research team and in partnership with Professor Mark McGillivary from Deakin University. In the final year of the Program, IWDA undertook a country study in the Solomon Islands, using the revised and reviewed survey tools. The IDM Program included a strong focus on stakeholder engagement, communication, and capacity building to ensure partner organisations could take the measure forward in their own work. At the conclusion of the program, the value of the new approach to measuring multidimensional poverty was well demonstrated.

In mid-2020, with development and testing completed, the Measure was renamed the Individual Measure of Multidimensional Poverty (IMMP), and taken forward as part of a larger poverty research agenda within the Poverty and Inequality Research Centre at the Australian National University. Throughout the development of the Measure, the ANU has collaborated with other research institutions, government agencies and civil society organisations, to strengthen the rigour of the measure and to disseminate findings, and has engaged in capacity-building to enable partner organisations to take the methodology that underpins the IMMP forward in their own work. 



The 2016-2020 ANU IDM team

The development of the IDM, and its culmination as the IMMP in June 2020, involved a large team of researchers. The core ANU team was:


Professor Sharon Bessell co-led the ANU-IDM team from 2016-2020, with overall responsibility for the Program.  Sharon also co-led the IDM Indonesia study and was closely involved in the IDM qualitative follow-up study in Indonesia and contributed to the revision of the IDM surveys and scoring.  Sharon was a chief investigator on the Assessing Development project, and designed the 3-phase research methodology that led to the IDM and, subsequently, the IMMP.

Associate Professor Janet Hunt co-led the ANU-IDM team from 2016-2020. She worked closely on the revision of the IDM surveys and the IDM South Africa study, and was centrally involved in the development of IDM scoring scheme and index construction. Janet was a chief investigator on the Assessing Development project.

Dr Angie Bexley led the analysis of the descriptive statistics from the IDM Indonesia study and has worked closely with stakeholders in Indonesia. Angie is lead author of the IDM Indonesia reports.

Dr Helen Suich led the IDM South Africa study, including the statistical analysis, and is lead author of the IDM South Africa report. She worked closely with stakeholders in South Africa and was central to the review of the IDM surveys, development of enumerator training materials, the IDM scoring scheme, and the index construction.

Dr Mandy Yap co-led the IDM Indonesia study; she worked closely with stakeholders in Indonesia and was central to the revision of the IDM surveys, the development of enumerator training materials and, the IDM scoring scheme.

Dr Masud Hasan was responsible for the development of the IDM index and the statistical analysis of the IDM data from Indonesia.

Trang Pham worked on both the Indonesia and South Africa country studies and on the survey revision, development of enumerator training materials, the IDM scoring scheme, and index construction.

Celia Vuckovic was the IDM program officer.

Ewelina Przybyszewski was the IDM program and communications officer.

Susan Ward was the program manager (2018-2020)

Darlene Sebalj was program manager (2017-2018)

Rowena Childs was program coordinator (2016-2017)

The robustness and innovation of the IMMP is grounded in participatory beginnings and underpinned by the strength of academic and policy expertise that has shaped the research over many years.

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