Policy options that could make poverty reduction efforts more effective in the future for emerging economies

“It is the wearer of the shoe, who knows where it hurts.”

-Swahili Proverb.

Poverty reduction efforts take various forms and target various segments of the population. Some governments prefer top down approaches with wide and varying macroeconomic policies infrastructure development, massive public works programs, and creation of basket funds for youths, women, and marginalized groups. On the other hand, other governments prefer bottoms up approach, including but not limited to formation of groups, livelihood programs at household levels, and incubation programs for agribusiness and ICT related areas. However, the adoption of participatory approaches and inclusion in the development processes is emerging as a leader to improve their capabilities and functioning that enable them to take charge of their affairs (Gondi, 2005) so as to reduce poverty. Armatya Sen, the classical economist, argued in his leading lecture titled Equality of What at Stanford University in 1979, that building capacities is the best way to ensure development is both impactful, and sustainable. It is participatory approach to development that builds capacities.

The strategy to do this is twofold, including both direct and indirect participation.

On the one part, there has to be direct people engagement and participation approach. This is when people are given full rights and powers to ensure that poverty reduction efforts are successfully implemented with hands on approach on the field activities. This involves full knowledge, awareness and interest of the participants. It is basically a community/team based approach. For example; modulation and implementation of the poverty reduction efforts; maintaining and follow-up of the implemented poverty reduction efforts; ownership of the planning and implementation of the community development projects; people acting as agents of the implemented poverty reduction efforts; and conducting research and identification of the detailed causes of poverty so as to have empirical basis for advocacy, planning, and programming.

On the other part, there is need for indirect people engagement where people fully own the rights to ensure that poverty reduction efforts are implemented. This may be done through concentrating on individual needs starting from individuals in the family to individuals in the society. Here people are not always aware of the fact that they are ensuring poverty reduction efforts but they only concentrate on personal problems and as a result there is effective poverty reduction effort. This may be due to the fact that individual needs are different yet living in the same environment makes it a uniform approach to address group need. For example; self-talent and ability discovery and development (finding out the best in one self); development of family (building a nuclear family); personal economic development (building one’s financial mescal); personal network development (creating beneficial friends around you); and developing self-happy and desired future (preparing for a good retirement).

In conclusion, development is both a means, and an end, and hence, fighting poverty must also be seen as a matter of both strategy and results.