Unit 2 (fighting poverty)

Choosing the right action plan

You might be passionate about combating poverty and even starting your own initiative, but before you start out it is best to understand the most effective action plans that you can adopt. There are many projects and efforts toward poverty eradication in the world today, but the challenges of poverty still persist due to the magnitude of the poverty problem itself.

It is important to note that you can combat poverty without having to start an entire project/non-profit or initiative. You can volunteer to be a part of various anti-poverty efforts or better still become a passionate donor to a poverty alleviation cause. However, if starting out a project or initiative is what you prefer or desire, then you should try to gain as much from this and successive units of this course.

There are various options you could consider in starting out your own poverty intervention scheme or initiative by but in this course we will be focusing on the most effective options to combating poverty, which includes job creation, economic equality, improved and affordable healthcare, child care (infant mortality and malnutrition), accessible and affordable education, social welfare service and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene).

In selecting your preferred action plan, there are certain things to consider, like availability of resources, financing, logistics, technical feasibility, etc. However, there are effective best practices to incorporate as you identify your preferred poverty alleviation action plan. These practises help fight the efficiency of your action plan, irrespective of which you end up going with. These practices have been identified by Outreach international’s Dr. Dennis Labayen as “participatory human development”, and are summarized below:

  1. The people directly affected by the problems or issues of poverty in the community have to be actively and authentically participating in their efforts to fight poverty. This means that the affected people themselves will be the major participants of the intervention to fight poverty. Formal leaders need to be consulted, as well as those affected. Their worldview should be taken into consideration, and through facilitation, they become part of the process of addressing and resolving the issues they face.
  2. Create an organized group within the community to help many people, rather than only a few individuals. Rather than working with individual persons, it is more effective to facilitate collective and organized actions to help strengthen and empower people in poverty through an organization. This means that it is not enough to provide assistance to individually affected persons alone, but through collective organization, each individual is developed and steps are taken to address their problems and other problems in the future.
  3. The people affected need to identify the issues. It is more effective when issues and problems are identified by the people facing them. They begin to gain self-confidence and acquire capabilities in working together on simple problems. This means that their initial efforts and experiences can be used toward addressing more complex problems and issues. It is in identifying and acting on their initial simple issues or problems that the affected people gain self-confidence and the capability to identify other matters which need to be addressed. Though externally introduced projects can help some of poverty’s effects, without the people’s active involvement linking these projects with their own identified issues and problems, such projects will most likely not be sustained or maintained.
  4. People in poverty need to understand that they can often address and solve their own issues. The affected people going through the process of fighting poverty should have a raised level of consciousness about their situation, and their own capabilities, in order to sustain their collective efforts and address future issues.
  5. Fighting poverty takes time. The process of fighting poverty is not simple, especially since a deep personal transformation needs to take place in those affected. It takes time to empower and facilitate affected people so they can become actors of their own development.

Ensuring that we take the above into consideration when developing our poverty action plan will not only help improve the plan’s efficiency but also its lifespan/longevity.

Selecting your option-

In selecting the best option, it is advisable to weigh your alternatives and assign ranks. You should spend time on this process, as this is a formative stage and hence requires detailed attention. In order to identify the best option for you:

  1. List out your available options. E-g economic inequality, affordable healthcare, access to education, job creation, WASH, etc.
  2. Assign ranks (maybe from 1 – 10) to the following selection criteria- financing, technical feasibility, logistics, time and any other parameter you think might be necessary.

Your eventual choice should be the option that carries the least average weight of your selection criteria or selected parameters. Thus, you have identified the initiative/project that would require less resources and without eliminating its capacity to scale up.

Please download the attached PDF(s) for this unit. (1. The NGO Handbook, a Handbook Series Edition. Published in 2012 by: Bureau of International Information Programs, United States Department of State. 2. Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro- World alliance for citizen participation (CIVICUS))


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