Apart from difficulties in targeting, donors have experienced a number of difficulties in undertaking projects which directly address poverty problems at the grass-root level. This has much to do with the administration-intensive nature of projects whose disbursement might be quite small, problems of sustainability, the importance of involving local communities in enhancing the effectiveness of poor people at the local level in representing their own interests, and the possible reticence of recipient governments, as well as the need to take into account local realities. Building a significant technical assistance component into capital projects has been found to help cope with problems of sustainability. Many donors have opted to work through NGOs and other intermediaries; but in that case, further problems of impact and replicability have been found.
Reasons why many aid projects have proved to be ineffective include: (a) lack of commitment to help the poor (resulting in diversion of benefits to the non-poor); (b) macro-economic and sectoral policies ([eg] pricing policies in the agricultural sector and land-use policies in the urban areas) at variance with the objectives of the project; (c) frequent shifts in donors' concerns and policies which have often overshadowed the need for stable long-term strategies, and lack of coordination among donors; (d) neglect of the institutional and managerial aspects of poverty-oriented projects; and (e) inadequate participation of the beneficiaries (local community organizations, organized groups of poor workers, borrowers, women, [etc]) and little attention given to socio-cultural and political factors in recipient countries.
In the absence of reliable quantitative data, qualitative information can also be used, at least to identify and localize the poor and target programmes for them. For instance, populations in certain regions, certain ethnic groups, displaced and refugee populations, households headed by women, and such functional groups as smallholder farmers, the landless in rural areas, nomadic pastoralists and small-scale fishermen, are known to be specially vulnerable to poverty.