International attention is focused more sharply on poverty reduction than for 20 years. The international target proposed by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD has been widely adopted, namely to reduce by half by 2015 the proportion of people living in extreme poverty. But quite what this target might mean is obscured by the bewildering ambiguity with which the term ‘poverty’ is used, and by the many different indicators proposed to monitor poverty. Income poverty or human development? Sustainable livelihood or social inclusion? Current consumption or future security? Different concepts imply different interventions.