Switch headers Switch to TIGweb.org

Are you an TIG Member?
Click here to switch to TIGweb.org

HomeHomeExpress YourselfPanoramaShould Governments Guarantee Freedom from Poverty?
a TakingITGlobal online publication

(Advanced Search)

Panorama Home
Issue Archive
Current Issue
Next Issue
Featured Writer
TIG Magazine
Short Story
My Content
Should Governments Guarantee Freedom from Poverty? Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Franklin Cudjoe, Ghana Aug 8, 2002
Human Rights   Opinions
 1 2   Next page »


Poverty is no stranger to the world. Nearly one in four people (1.3 billion people in total) live in absolute poverty, surviving on less than $1 a day. The world Health Organization terms it “the world’s deadliest disease and the biggest single underlying cause of disease and suffering”. Others call it ‘the lack of choices for one’s life.’
According to the Ghana Living Standard Survey 2000 edition, hardcore poverty exists in the Northern, Upper West, Upper East and Central Regions of Ghana. Of this, however, it is the women and children who bear the greatest brunt.

Poverty can be summed up as the state in which one’s daily life is based on survival, with no power to choose or control one’s destiny or to materialize one’s aspirations. Yet governments rule over these people. Surely no one can call a society healthy if the vast majority of its members are poor and miserable (Smith, 1976). The extent to which poverty levels can be reduced in any society depends largely on not only governments but also good governance.

Strategies for poverty reduction and ensuring freedom from poverty have, since the fifties, gone through many transformations. Some of these strategies have emphasized investments in physical capital and infrastructure as the primary means of development, while others have focused on health and education, or improving economic management.
The world Development Report of 1990 proposed a two-part strategy: promote labour-intensive growth through economic openness and investment in infrastructure and provide basic services to poor people in health and education.
Three methods have been proposed for attacking poverty. These are promoting opportunities, facilitating empowerment and enhancing security. I have a friend who puts it this way: “Governments should adopt the principle of subsidiary and solidarity”.
The material opportunities that the poor identify with are jobs, access to credit, roads, electricity, markets for their produce, schools, water, sanitation, and health services.
The choice and implementation of public actions that are responsive to the needs of the poor depend on the interaction of political, social and other institutional processes.
Reducing vulnerability to economic shock, natural disasters, ill health, disability, and personal violence is an intrinsic part of enhancing well being and encourages investment in human capital and in higher-risk, higher-return activities.

The above strategies need to be actualized. However, there is no simple universal blueprint for implementing this strategy. We in developing countries, for instance, need to prepare our own mix of policies to reduce poverty, reflecting national and local realities vis a vis the resources of individual countries.
Under the opportunity factor, action needs to be taken to encourage effective private sector participation by way of investment. This means that governments must reduce the risk for private investors through stable monetary and fiscal policy, stable investment regimes, sound financial systems and a clear and transparent business environment. But it also involves ensuring the rule of law and taking measures to fight corruption---we must eliminate business environments based on kickbacks, subsidies for large investors, special deals and favoured monopolies. Governments must also use international markets to increase their incomes for national development.
Governments must also build up the assets of poor people by first increasing spending on poor people, expanding the supply of basic social and economic services and relaxing constraints on the demand side (through, for example, scholarships for poor children). Second, ensure good quality service delivery through institutional action involving sound governance and the use of multiple agents.
Third, and most importantly, is the participation of poor communities and households in choosing and implementing services and monitoring them to keep providers accountable. This has been tried in projects in El Salvador, Tunisia and Uganda.
Governments must also address asset inequalities across gender; ethnic, racial and social divides.

To empower an area requires that we lay aside our political and legal biases to allow for inclusive development - this means having transparent institutions with democratic and participatory mechanisms for making decisions and monitoring their implementation.
There should be the creation of public administrations that foster growth and equity, promoting inclusive decentralization and community development. This is because decentralization can bring service agencies closer to poor communities and poor people. Empowerment means promoting gender equality.
Finally, empowerment means supporting poor people’s social capital, supporting their networks (NGOs) and linking them to intermediary organizations and broader markets and public institutions. Doing this also requires that governments improve legal, regulatory, and institutional environments for groups that represent the poor.

 1 2   Next page »   


You must be logged in to add tags.

Writer Profile
Franklin Cudjoe

This user has not written anything in his panorama profile yet.
You must be a TakingITGlobal member to post a comment. Sign up for free or login.