To rejuvenate the slow poverty alleviation process in Sri Lanka, the first step would be to better understand the geographical distribution of poverty, which in turn would require estimating poverty at a level of disaggregation lower than the district level. This policy note summarizes results and experience of a poverty mapping exercise in Sri Lanka that has been conducted in close collaboration with the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) since 2003. The results of poverty mapping successfully indicate where pockets of severe poverty remain in Sri Lanka, and provide interesting insights-poverty measured as a percentage of population is higher in remote areas, while the absolute number of the poor is larger in urban areas. Also, preliminary results drawn from a map with very high resolution indicate that there are some pockets of poverty even in Colombo District-the growth center of the country. The aim of this report is threefold. First, the report demonstrates that the poverty mapping method developed by Elbers at al (2003) is a useful tool to illustrate the spatial heterogeneity in poverty incidence in Sri Lanka at different levels of resolution (section 2). Second, it highlights the importance of capacity building in ensuring the sustainability of the poverty mapping work (section 3). Third, it discusses new observations regarding the statistical properties of the methodology (section 4).
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