Unit 3 (fighting poverty)


You would notice that in choosing the right action plan from unit 2, we paid less attention to “impact”. This is because there are many constraints to the success of any new civil society project/initiative, especially when it is being developed by private citizens. The most important goal in the short term would be to get the project off the ground. The degree and sustainability of impact is something that would be prioritized after birthing the project.

Regardless of the option you would choose to work on, it is very important that you have at least a significant grasp of the different options available for combating poverty. While we will not dwell on intricate details, we have however provided summaries for you.

Economic inequality-

Economic inequality, sometimes called Income inequality is the extent to which income is distributed unevenly in a group of people. In general terms, Inequality is the state of not being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. Inequality is prone to confusion in public debate as it tends to mean different things to different people. Some distinctions are common however. Many authors distinguish “economic inequality”, mostly meaning “income inequality”, “monetary inequality” or, more broadly, inequality in “living conditions”. Others further distinguish a rights-based, legalistic approach to inequality.

Basically economic inequality boils down to two views. One is chiefly concerned with the inequality of outcomes in the material dimensions of well-being and that may be the result of circumstances beyond one’s control (ethnicity, family background, gender, and so on) as well as talent and effort. This view takes an ex-post or achievement-oriented perspective. The second view is concerned with the inequality of opportunities, that is, it focuses only in the circumstances beyond one’s control, that affect one’s potential outcomes. This is an ex-ante or potential achievement perspective.

Regardless of how you choose to view economic inequality, it sits right at the centre of poverty. While the government and large/experienced development organizations are best suited to make the most significant impact in combating economic inequalities, the most impactful way to combat income inequality if you are just starting out your own project/initiative, is to influence public policy via research, advocacy, consultations, etc. Although this effort might not produce immediate results, their medium-long term achievements can be tremendous.

Here are some public policies to consider advocating when combating income/economic inequality- minimum wage negotiations, income tax negotiations, progressive tax negotiations, job creation policies, child care (infant mortality and malnutrition).

Child mortality is a very serious problem, and a lot of people are fighting to reduce it in the developing world. In fact, the number of children younger than 5 who die each year from preventable causes has decreased dramatically — from 12.7 million in 1990 to 5.9 million in 2015. But that is not as fast enough as the World Health Organization and other international development organizations have proposed. Among the most important policies/programs and initiatives for combating infant mortality and malnutrition are immunization, female education, family spacing, food supplementation, nutrition for children under five years of age, control of nutritional deficiencies, etc.

Affordable education-

Considering the changing nature of the global economy, driven by technological advancements and globalization, it is now more important than ever to invest in human capital and ensure that everyone has the skills necessary to succeed. The UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report has revealed very compelling data on the impact off education on poverty. From the report, it is noteworthy to highlight the following:

171 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty if all children left school with basic reading skills. That’s equivalent to a 12% drop in the world total.

Absolute poverty could be reduced by 30% from learning improvements outlined by the Education Commission.

Education increases earnings by roughly 10% per each additional year of schooling.

For each $1 invested in an additional year of schooling earnings increase by $5 in low-income countries and $2.5 in lower-middle income countries.


If workers from poor and rich backgrounds received the same education, disparity between the two in working poverty could decrease by 39%. Although not every person without an education is living in extreme poverty, but most of the extremely poor lack basic education. Access to high-quality primary education and supporting child well-being is a globally-recognized solution to the cycle of poverty. It is estimated that if all adults completed secondary education, we could cut the global poverty rate by more than half. For many of the world’s poor, improved access to education might not be an immediate solution out of poverty, but it has proven to be an efficient long lasting solution to the global poverty problem.


Improved healthcare-

Poverty and poor health worldwide are inextricably linked. The causes of poor health for millions globally are rooted in political, social and economic injustices. Poverty is both a cause and a consequence of poor health. Poverty increases the chances of poor health. Poor health, in turn, traps communities in poverty. Infectious and neglected tropical diseases kill and weaken millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people each year. Indeed, there has been tremendous progress around the world, in improving healthcare amongst the world’s poorest, but there is still a lot to be done. The progress from previous and current efforts to addressing healthcare problems among the world’s poorest populations is highly encouraging. For instance, evidence from the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria strongly suggests that there are positive economic effects associated with health investments. Reducing diseases among the world’s poorest populations can improve economic outcomes through multiple channels. E-g via greater labour productivity and school attendance from less absenteeism, via better cognition and school performance through less disease in utero and in early life, and via greater incentives for education and savings with lengthened life expectancy.

Although there are other ways to help improve healthcare among the world’s poorest, but combating common diseases proves to be the most effective till date.



WASH simply refers to water, sanitation and hygiene. There is no disputing that water and poverty are inextricably linked. Lack of safe water and poverty are mutually reinforcing; access to consistent sources of clean water is crucial to poverty reduction. Currently, 748 million people live without access to safe water and 2.5 billion live without adequate sanitation.

Safe water means consistent access to and adequate supply of clean water suitable for drinking, bathing, cooking, and cleaning. According to the World Health Organization, this means safe drinking water from a source less than 1 kilometre (62 miles) away and at least 20 litres (5.28 gallons) per person per day. In some cases, safe water for irrigation or animals might be necessary to the extent that it affects individual human health and dignity.

From the local farmers market to large multinational corporations in agriculture, manufacturing, and service industries, all businesses rely on some extent on consistent access to safe water and sanitation. Water is essential for growing and processing raw goods for food and textiles. It is essential for industry and manufacturing, from local farmers washing produce to processing goods like coffee and cotton to steel manufacturing.

Water and poverty are intertwined for both employees and consumers. Without safe water and sanitation during the day, workers and customers have to leave their job or market to find water and a place to go to the bathroom. Employers who are able to provide safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities for their employees are able to retain healthier and more productive employees. Schools in rural areas often have a difficult time retaining teachers when they cannot provide sanitation facilities in or near the school. For those who live without safe water, adequate sanitation, and effective hygiene practices, water-borne disease is a constant threat to health, keeping people out of the work force and in poverty. Over 40 billion productive hours are lost each year to fetching water in sub-Saharan Africa. About half of the developing world’s hospital beds are occupied by people with water-related illness.

Considering a WASH related project/initiative would in no doubt be very effective in combating poverty in both long and short terms.


Please subject all your interested choices to the weighted rank test/method introduced in unit 2 of this course.

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