Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Addressing Chronic Poverty

Four years ago, the Chronic Poverty Research Centre published the Chronic Poverty Report 2004-05. This was the first major international development report to focus on the estimated 320 to 445 million people who live trapped in chronic poverty – people who will remain poor for much or all of their lives and whose children are likely to inherit their poverty. These chronically poor experience multiple deprivations, including hunger, under-nutrition, illiteracy, lack of access to safe drinking water and basic health services, social discrimination, physical insecurity and political exclusion. Many will die prematurely of easily preventable deaths.

If the first report examined the dimensions of the problem of chronic poverty, the Chronic Poverty Report 2008-09 looks at possible solutions. Through our research we identify five main traps that underpin chronic poverty – insecurity, limited citizenship, spatial disadvantage, social discrimination and poor work opportunities – and outline key policy responses to these.

We argue that the development of a ‘just social compact’ between citizens and states must be the focus for poverty eradication. Development actors can nurture such a compact through social protection, public services, effective anti-discrimination action, gender empowerment, economic growth and fiscal policy, and the management of migration and urbanisation processes.

To show the human face behind the statistics and policies, we intertwine the life stories of seven chronically poor people from across Asia and Africa into the report. The descriptions of the lives of Angel, Moses, Txab, Vuyiswa, Bakyt, and Maymana and Mofizul, help the reader to better appreciate the complex and varied causes of chronic poverty.

Most people in chronic poverty strive and work to improve their livelihoods, and to create a better future for their children, in difficult circumstances. They need real commitment matched by actions and resources, to support their efforts and overcome the obstacles that trap them in poverty.

We argue that tackling chronic poverty is the global priority of our time and that eradicating poverty by 2025 is a feasible goal – if national governments and international organisations are willing to make the necessary political commitments and resource allocations.

Read it all here.

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