Turning rhetoric into action: building effective partnerships to combat extreme poverty and exclusion

Turning rhetoric into action: building effective partnerships to combat extreme poverty and exclusion

A partnership approach to tackling poverty

In order to tackle the persistent and increasing problem of poverty, it is necessary to concentrate on more than just economic growth or the improvement of social or welfare services. A partnership approach to tackling poverty is also needed. The best informed experts on poverty are those who face it on a daily basis. They must be listened to and associated in the planning and management of any efforts undertaken on their behalf. This is a major undertaking but is not beyond the resources nor the energies of government or non-government organisations, nor communities. It calls for strong planning and evaluation at international, national and local levels. [adapted from the authors]

This toolkit looks at element necessary when creating conditions for the participation of people living in extreme poverty. These include:

  • lack of expectation of the contribution of people living in extreme poverty: the position of individuals and families living in extreme poverty is affected by the way society views them. As they live on the margins of society, and have often benefited from only a minimum amount of schooling, they may not fully understand the social and economic systems that govern the society in which they live
  • reaching out, time and flexibility: people living in extreme poverty are often difficult to include in participatory projects
  • respecting and ensuring everyone's freedom: the very nature of such a project means that the different participants are from the beginning in a situation of inequality: in power, position, knowledge and means of expression
  • a will to create equal partnerships: the lives of people living in extreme poverty are little known or understood. Therefore, bringing together members of society from diverse backgrounds should be seen as an opportunity to learn from one another
  • involvement at every stage: to succeed in achieving a truly participative approach, the participation of people living in poverty should be an integral part of the process rather than an add-on at any given stage.