The Minimum Expenditure Basket is a way of establishing poverty lines for refugee populations. It is emerging as the primary tool to develop a cost and market-based expression of minimum needs of refugees in any given country. It broadly follows the notion of a “cost of basic needs approach” as outlined in the World Bank Poverty Manual from 2005. Poverty is defined as a “deprivation in well-being”.
In Jordan, it was agreed to develop two poverty lines (the Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB) and the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB)) in order to:
a) Mirror the way the Government of Jordan calculates poverty lines relating to abject and absolute poverty;
b) Support the vulnerability calculations under the Vulnerability Assessment Framework (VAF).
The MEB is the expression of the monthly cost per capita that allows a Syrian refugee to live a dignified life outside the camps in Jordan. This implies the full access to rights and represents the minimum needed to live in dignity. It is more or less aligned with the definition of absolute poverty.
The SMEB is the expression of the minimum monthly cost per capita that is needed for physical survival and implies the deprivation of a series of rights. It is more or less aligned with the definition of abject poverty.
The poverty line approach and appeal have limitations. The approach is often contrasted with the multi-dimensional poverty index approach, which add a qualitative element to poverty calculations. The utility of a poverty line in the Jordanian refugee response context outweighs a more complex approach.