In a bid to present a more realistic figure, the government has decided to change the methodology of measuring poverty, which is likely to increase the percentage of people living below the poverty line from the current estimate of 8% to as high as 30% of the total population. The government on Friday discussed the possibility of including non-food items like availability of education and health facilities in its calculations while working out the new poverty level in the country. The Ministry of Finance and the Planning Commission have decided to work together to sort out a decade-old issue and are expected to announce the new poverty figure by the mid of next month, said Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. There have been changes in the poverty profile in the last decade, in part a direct result of interventions such as the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) as well as changes in patterns of employment. The latter has produced cyclic poverty, where families and individuals dip in and out of poverty dependent on their employment status, and the level of income relative to basic family needs. In terms of objective measurement, poverty has become something of a moving target — which is no excuse for not tracking it more effectively than it has been historically. Getting a better measurement of poverty is going to enable a more effective framing of the redistributive responses to the Sustainable Development Goals, which are the successors of the widely missed — in terms of hitting the target — Millennium Development Goals. Slaying the poverty monster is incremental, there is no single solution and is a generational struggle spanning many electoral cycles. Getting the numbers right is as good a place as any to start the battle.