Most existing evaluation procedures are exclusively entrenched in poverty evaluation methodologies and need to be supplemented with some measurement of freedom.

We need to be better informed by a broader base in order to evaluate the capability of a person who is involved in the search for a better life.



For Amartya Sen, "The success of a society is to be evaluated primarily by the substantive freedoms that members of that society enjoy". Expansion of freedom is viewed both as the primary end and as the principal means of development. Thus one may assess the needs of development as the needs to remove un-freedoms from which the members of the society may suffer. His proposition of five components or instruments of freedom that have been explained earlier (political freedoms; economic facilities, social opportunities; transparency guarantees; and protective security) are interdependent and interconnected. Indeed these interconnections are central to a fuller understanding of the instrumental role of freedom.

Existing evaluations rely on an information base that cannot provide adequate knowledge for decisive action or policies. In the urban field, this information base is dominated by the income based poverty survey. One of the reasons for regarding this base as inadequate is that recent development literature has advocated the need for a shift towards participation and democratisation through bottom up policies. However, the view on how deprivation is measured has remained largely technocratic and top down in its evaluation. The evaluation process of measuring poverty is therefore out of synchrony with the policy goals because it does not address the potentials of individuals.
It has been argued in this paper that the pre-eminent goal of development policy should be to expand human freedom. In doing so, we have relied on the work of eminent economists Haq and Sen. Both have suggested that the existing approach that takes poverty eradication or income increments as goals in themselves is inadequate. Indeed, both economists have pointed out that poverty eradication is a means to human development, not its end. In order to redirect our development goals towards the ideal of expanding freedoms, one needs to pay closer attention to the evaluation procedures that are required to inform us of the nature of the change proposed. Clearly if one was to rely entirely on the existing evaluation methods, one would end up with inadequate data to redirect development policy goals. Most existing evaluation procedures are exclusively entrenched in poverty evaluation methodologies and need to be supplemented with some measurement of freedom. We need to be better informed by a broader base in order to evaluate the capability of a person who is involved in the search for a better life.

One of the reasons for applying non-income based measures was to try and resolve the discussion about how much money is required to escape poverty. Income levels measured in monetary terms could only approximate ways to measure the value of goods and services. Monetary valued incomes were regarded as indicative of the purchasing power of the family or individual. But such a measure does not reflect, in all cases, the well being of the person or his family. 'Income' is surely only a means to well being while, enhanced 'capability' represents a closer approximation to the ends of the benefit that the individual or family seeks.

When he first put forward his ideas of evaluating capabilities, Haq did point out that the potential shortcomings of the CPM evaluation were caused by the need to rely on data collected for more traditional evaluations: "Ideally in measuring deprivation in capabilities, indicators should be used that directly reflect capability shortfalls". Sen discusses possible strategies to adopt to evaluate capabilities. Not all capabilities are easy to measure on metric scales so that one may need to rely on supporting data from monetary based indices. In order to overcome these difficulties and to move forward on current data collection practices. Three alternative practical approaches are suggested:

  • Direct approach - which exclusively compares data that evaluates capabilities, employment, longevity, literacy, nutrition and so on.

  • Supplementary approach - which uses the traditional interpersonal income-based status evaluation and combines this with some direct approach capability data. Thus income level data could be combined with data on the availability of health care, evidence of gender bias in the family, extent of joblessness and so on.

  • Indirect approach - which modifies the traditional income-based data through influences derived from capability data. The monetary value is therefore altered by non-monetary values. The monetary value of income is modified by the weight given by literacy levels, gender bias, unemployment and so on.

Since the goal of the wider approach to development through ever-expanding freedoms focuses on the capabilities and potentials rather than on the income of an individual, it is capability that one needs to evaluate in order to determine its constraints. We would therefore need to determine both the extent of un-freedoms as well as the real incomes of the citizens. In order to do this we need to modify the selection of relative weights that are used in the evaluative process.

Inevitably these modified weights may not lend themselves easily to a uniformity of assessment techniques. Standard questionnaires cannot be used across different communities to evaluate their un-freedoms. Interpersonal comparisons cannot be made through standardised simple uniform question - answer procedures for data collection. The condition that is being evaluated as a constraint to freedom is, by its nature, a subjective condition. Therefore it is imperative that the current technocratic evaluations are supplemented with evaluations that have a democratic origin derived through a participatory process rather than a statistical quest. There is a need to use both qualitative as well as quantitative information.
In order to evaluate the condition of development of a community or a society, it becomes necessary to evaluate the status of the freedom of the individuals who compose the group under evaluation. In regarding these individuals as agents of change rather than patients of diagnoses or recipients of benefits, it becomes necessary to evaluate their capabilities rather than their economic condition. In other words, their deprivation is evaluated not in economic terms but in capability terms. Instead of simply evaluating income or expenditure, one needs to measure the potential of the individual and the constraints on that potential. By grouping constraints according to the five instruments of freedom, it is possible to evaluate them in terms of un-freedoms.

New indicators would provide an informational base with relative weights given to the five types of un-freedoms. Data could supply a cross measure between relative degrees of individual un-freedoms within a community as well as a basis for comparing the relative degrees of freedoms enjoyed by individuals in other communities. Thus one could look forward to new indices being brought out reflecting the degrees of freedom enjoyed by communities - a Human Freedom Index supplemented by sub indices that could measure each of the five instruments of freedom. Inclusive tables as well as exclusive composite indicators need to be collected and then used discriminatingly.

Composite indicators can be particularly useful to assess how different policy options can affect the prospects of enhancing freedoms. Thus development policy will need to balance the human achievement outcomes of a policy between the different types of achievements, which one may need to choose since all freedoms may not be accessible or realisable simultaneously. Policy makers may realise that, in the given circumstances of a case, it may be impossible to guarantee ideal political freedoms and policies would need to be devised that would distinguigh between the long term national level achievement goals and the short term localised ones.
If we are to move away from the economic centred view of development towards a wider more ethical centred goal of human freedom, we will need to set up a modified information base that is sensitive to freedom values rather than just to economistic values.

Some of the pioneering work of shifting the emphasis away from economic growth towards sustainable human development was done by the economist Mahbub ul Haq. He was convinced that development must deal with society at large and not limit itself solely to an economistic perspective. As such development becomes people centred and both socially and environmentally sensitive. During his years at the UNDP (1989-95) he began work on the question of developing indicators to measure human development.

The first Human Development Report was published in 1990 and it contained evaluated data for the first time, on a global scale, that questioned the measurement of human progress through the narrow perspective of economic growth data. The data in these reports, which became an annual feature of UNDP, began to demonstrate the need to shift away from concerns about inequalities and move towards concerns of inhumanity. In many ways, Haq's pioneering work, which culminated in the UNDP's annual Human Development Reports, began a process of questioning the traditional economic notions of 'trickle down' economics.

Economic growth was only the means to the real end, which was human development. Empowerment was more relevant as a policy goal than the quantum of the handout. The Human Development Report 2000 has focused on 'Human Rights and Human Development' and has considerably expanded the inherent linkages between human freedom and human development. This focus has clearly emerged out of the work of Amartya Sen who has written the first chapter of the Report. Haq highlighted the need for a better, more informative database and suggested the use of the "Capability Poverty Measure" (CPM) that was eventually included in the UNDP 1996 Human Development Report. This index supplemented the data derived from income poverty measurements and complemented the Human Development Index (HDI). The CPM data considered the percentage of people who lacked minimal essential human capabilities.

Three basic capabilities were measured with an overall emphasis on women:
  • Nutrition and health measured the proportion of children under the age of five who were under weight.

  • Safe reproduction measured the proportion of births that were unattended by health personnel.

  • Education level measured the degree of female literacy.

In this evaluation, human capabilities and potentials were directly linked to deprivations experienced by women who were considered as the centre of the family. Haq maintained that poverty could not be eradicated simply by increasing income. For a person or a family, the improvement of their condition would have to lead to an expansion of basic human capabilities leading in turn to the productive use of these capabilities.

Such a contention can easily be understood if one considers the unchanged condition of a family whose income earner wastes his increased income on non- productive uses such as gambling or drinking. One of the reasons for applying non-income-based measures was to try and distinguish between the long-term national level achievement goals and the shorter term localised ones. Such shorter-term goals could distinguish between constraints to freedom that have local origins. Such an approach would regard the overarching obstructions to freedom to be composed of an aggregate of constraints at different levels. However, such desegregating of unfreedoms does not imply any hierarchies in the components of unfreedoms. All freedoms are interdependent and equally relevant.

The choice of aiming at removing particular unfreedoms and not others simply enables policy makers to make realistic choices between longer-term deep-rooted constraints and others that may have local or family level impacts on the citizen. A different level of policy may be required for enabling the removal of constraints that need fundamental political and social transformations.

Ideally, the goal of a policy maker should aim at creating 'enabling' environments in which people's capabilities can be enhanced and their range of choices expanded. Factors preventing such enabling environments to blossom are to be found within all levels of society and contribute to the persistence of different unfreedoms.

Effective policy making needs to be dynamic and adaptable, confering with the subjects of evaluation to determine their perceptions of un-freedoms before formulating a matrix for the evaluation of freedoms. The matrix for evaluation would emerge out of public discussions so that the weights given to the indicators are understood and agreed to by the community being surveyed: Public support is a precondition for identifying criteria for evaluation.

In the following table, existing participatory and sustainable indicators are organised within Sen's five instrumental freedoms, distinguishing between those indicators that are 'technocratic', typically quantitative and exogenous, and 'participatory' indicators that are qualitative and endogenous.


Effective policy making needs to be dynamic and adaptable, confering with the subjects of evaluation to determine their perceptions of un-freedoms before formulating a matrix for the evaluation of freedoms.

The matrix for evaluation would emerge out of public discussions so that the weights given to the indicators are understood and agreed to by the community being surveyed

Of Freedoms
Top Down, Deductive
Quantitative Evaluators
Bottom Up, Inductive
Qualitative Evaluators


Persons imprisoned

Voting rights

Access to written, electronic, broadcast media

Access to libraries

Women in government, police, etc.

Access to telecommunication

Constraints to voting

Access to voting booths

Constraints on legal access

Constraints on access to law and order services

Nature of land title

Constraints on access to information

Constraints to act as representatives

Constraints on use of telecommunications

Whether Constitution or national law promotes the right to adequate housing

Whether Constitution includes protections against eviction

Other housing related rights (including gender sensitive)

Institutional arrangements between central and local governments and balance of power between them


Male female employment


Earned income share in family

Loans from banks

Youth unemployment rate

Children in employment

Women’s GDP per capita

Percentage of family income retained by women

Loans from money lenders

Interest rate on loans compared to market rate

Individual disabilities

Constraints to mobility

Access to credit

Constraints on women to seek employment

Access to training facilities

Access to transport

Access to markets

Recovery of dues.


Life expectancy

Birth and death rates

Contraception rates

Infant mortality

Maternal mortality

Infant immunisation

Access to health services

Access to safe water and sanitation

Birth attended by health personal

Population per doctor

Underweight babies

Malnourished children

Calorie intake

Adult literacy

Mean years of schooling

Primary enrolment

Access to alternative medicine practitioners

Access to fuel

Stability of dwelling

Domestic injuries

Exposure to pollution

Constraints on water access

Constraints to school attendance

School drop out rate

Unattended children

Working children under 10

Children per class

Children per teacher

Distance from primary school

Areas considered as dangerous or inaccessible to the police



Settlement of transacted work

Time spent on bondage obligations

Facilities to report crime

Presence of women in police station

Unreported thefts

Unreported molestation

Non formal payments for services, shelter and work

Regular independent auditing of municipal accounts

Published contracts and tenders

Sanctions against faults of civil servants

Laws on disclosure of potential conflicts of interest

Civil society involved in alteration in zoning

Civil society involved in major public projects


Catastrophic deaths

Destroyed houses

Destroyed schools and health centres

Epidemic cases

Density of population before and after calamity

Existence of shelters

Access to communication networks

Access to emergency food programmes

Duration of migration

Distance of migration

Nature of resettlement

Emergency and delay

Constraints to access shelter

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