Development Cooperation Handbook/The factors causing poverty and suffering
The factors causing poverty and suffering
Poverty is what prevents people from leading a long, healthy and creative life as well as from enjoying dignity, self-respect and the respect of others.
"Make poverty history" is a famous slogan launched in 2005 by a coalition of charities from Great Britain and Ireland. There is indeed merit in wanting to appeal to people's moral responsibility and pressure governments into taking actions for reducing poverty. Phrased in this way, however, the slogan appears to pretentious and somewhat inappropriate. "History" is not the dustbin of time! As Benedetto Croce, an Italian philosopher and writer, says "History is philosophy in motion", and "all history is contemporary history."
If we see "history" as the path taken by mankind to express its humanity and create civilized institutions, then we can say that poverty removal has always been a drive for progress. With successes and failures. With small and big mistakes. And each time mankind realised a mistake, civilizations found new way to reaffirm human aspiration towards greater and more shared prosperity.
The United Nations considers the "removal of poverty" as one of its fundamental scopes. Indeed, the first Millennium Development Goal MDGs is ""eradicate extreme poverty and hunger". These statements may also sound as institutional justifications rather than realistic programmes. They expose the U.N system to easy derogatory criticisms of "see, there is still abject poverty, so you are useless!". Indeed, we cannot think of a world agenda if we do not put, at its top, the effort to help poor communities improve their lives. Let's remove the pretense of "removing" poverty, ("the poor you will always have with you" - Gospel of Mark 14:7), and let's share the commitment to reduce and mitigate poverty. Let institutions, big and small, abandon the pretense that they can act as "poverty removers". Let's establish and animate networks, locally and globally, for contributing together to more civilized, equitable and inclusive societies.
To reduce poverty, we must first understand the factors that generate poverty; then we must generate political and cultural consensus to remove these factors. And generating this consensus is much more difficult than making statements of good intentions about the "removal" of poverty.
Lack of development is often seen as the factor that determines poverty. But in fact it is poverty that also prevents development. So, here we have a chicken-egg situation (does poverty come first or under-development?) we must get out of if we want to tackle the real causes of poverty.
It is ignorance and conflict that lead to the vicious circle of poverty and the lack of development. And it is knowledge and cooperation that lead to the virtuous circle of prosperity and progress. So, in order to create the conditions for a virtuous circle of development/cooperation, we should establish a healthy social climate of knowledge sharing and reciprocal empowerment.
|"Peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind" UNESCO Constitution|
In their effort to enable impoverished communities develop their potentialities, development cooperators share knowledge, skills and experiences across the world. They assist those who have been excluded from development by isolation, marginalization and conflicts. Their work is sometimes just tailored to provide urgent relief to the poor. In other cases, development cooperation is designed to give marginalized communities the capacity and resources to earn better. Besides short term targets addressed by cooperation programmes and plans, development cooperators seldom contribute to enabling that social dialogue by which people become aware of their potentialities and stand up to affirm their rights and advocate for justice. Development cooperation, therefore, is not "resource delivery" to beneficiaries in need (as is the case for Humanitarian aid. Development Cooperation is in itself the very process that allows persons to enter in a positive-sum social game and better express their potentials.
See also 
On other Wikibooks
- Information and Communication Technologies for Poverty Alleviation
- Investigating Critical & Contemporary Issues in Education/Challenges of Poverty
- Understanding Drivers of Poverty to Develop Theories of Change by Care
- Documentary series Why Poverty?"
- Allan, George (1972). "Croce and Whitehead On Concrescence". Process Studies 2 (2): 95–111. Allan lists the sources Croce, History as the Story of Liberty, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1941 (see Croce 1938) and Croce, History: Its Theory and Practice, New York: Russell & Russell, 1960.
The main factor of poverty is the poverty existing in people’s minds – for instance, a farmer with 10 acres land who says that he has no food for the next two months. People’s mind sets will need to be changed.
So long as people continue to feel dependency, they will not be able to develop. We will need to uproot the cause of poverty by supporting people in exploring new ways of improving their livelihoods. We need to revive small enterprises run by craftsmen that have been displaced by modern products manufactured by bigger companies, like clay tea cups that were made by potters or ropes that are now replaced by plastic ones made by bigger companies. If we want to remove poverty in the villages, we will have to revive small rural industries, promote these products and motivate the villagers.
"The first two things which come to my mind, since i am in India is 'Inclusion'. What strikes me here is that even thought there is a very high economic growth for many years but they do not manage to make the benefit of this growth inclusive and as a result there are 400 million people under 1 dollar a day.
The second thing is education. So many people are uneducated, the illiteracy rate is quite high. In addition to this there are also so many disparities between people. There are other factors too, but inclusion and education are the most important which come to my mind."