We Must Not Manage Poverty But Reduce It
Through innovation and generosity, the world has made amazing progress in improving the lives of its poorest people over the past 50 years.
– Bill Gates
Progress in human development has been a result of innovative and generous women and men who have devised plans and strategies, mobilized resources, challenged themselves, taken risks, and given of themselves to this end. Progress has been necessitated by leaders who have made or rallied behind humanitarian choices; leaders who have made a fundamental option for the poor especially the poorest of the poor.
I am inspired when leaders focus on poverty eradication or reduction rather than focusing on poverty management. Unrolling programmes for the provision of food, health, and shelter to the poor is poverty management, and this in turn perpetuates poverty making it a constant habitué in people’s lives. Aiming at poverty reduction leads us not only to look at and address the situation, which in this case is poverty, but it also causes us to look beyond and prescribe against what causes the status quo.
Eradication or reduction programmes do not deal with the effect but with the both the formal and efficient causes. When a choice for poverty reduction rather than poverty management is made, structures, plans, choices, mentalities, beliefs, and anything that gives life to the animal called poverty will be intolerable. I believe provision of aid, important though it is, is not the only ingredient in dealing with poverty. Promotion of ideas and innovations can be a powerful approach.
It is to be borne in mind that every choice is a renunciation. There is a common hypocrisy noticeable amongst many a leader. While on one hand they make choices about poverty reduction or eradication, on another hand they continue upholding practices and principles that are diametrically opposed to the choice made.
There are presently many humanitarian organisations in Zimbabwe, and they must not be unnecessarily multiplied. However, the human needs in Zimbabwe both qualitatively and quantitatively far outnumber the organisations that are endeavouring to meet these needs. The most important step in the establishment of this organisation is to do a needs assessment exercise and identify areas that still need to be given attention.
As I write this, what immediately comes to my mind is the area of education. We do have organisations that have dedicated themselves to educate the poor, and by this, they mean sending them to school. Their activities mainly consist of paying their fees, buying uniforms, and stationery. Programmes or activities geared towards educating the poor in the area of human formation need to be tailored and unrolled. These would compliment the formal education they receive in formal schools. The combination of these programmes will lead to a nation of successful, confident, and productive school leavers.
It is a sad scenario to see young men and women who were very successful in their formal school now failing dismally in life. There is need to tailor and promote programmes that would not only equip them with knowledge but guide them to make positive choices in life. Success and or failure is by and large a result of choices made. Some women failed in their formal education but became very successful in life. What happened? Choices made account for this.