Assisting those in poverty

Improving impoverished lives
Raising subsistence lifestyle
Designing effective programmes to meet the needs of the poor
Recognizing the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion
The global human ecosystem is threatened by grave imbalances in productivity and in the distribution of goods and services. A significant proportion of humanity still lives in dire poverty, and projected trends are for an increasing divergence between those that benefit from economic and technological development, and those that do not. This unsustainable progression of extremes of wealth and poverty threatens the stability of the whole human system, and with it the global environment.

In 1960 nearly 70 percent of the people in the world lived at or below the subsistence level. Today less than a third do, and the number enjoying fairly satisfactory conditions (as measured by the United Nations Human Development Index) rose from 25 percent in 1960 to 60 percent in 1992. Over the twenty-five years before 1992 average per capita consumption in developing countries increased 75 percent in real terms. The pace of improvements is also increasing. In developing countries in that period, for example, power generation and the number of telephone lines per capita doubled, while the number of households with access to clean water grew by half. Percentages aside, in 2003 nearly 3 billion people live on less than USD$2 a day and some 1 billion - or about 23 per cent of the developing world's population - struggle along on USD$1 a day or less.

Article 30 of the European Social Charter (Revised) (Strasbourg 1996) provides: With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion, the Parties undertake: a) to take measures within the framework of an overall and co-ordinated approach to promote the effective access of persons who live or risk living in a situation of social exclusion or poverty, as well as their families, to, in particular, employment, housing, training, education, culture and social and medical assistance; b) to review these measures with a view to their adaptation if necessary.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends developing policies in extension, training, pricing, input distribution, credit and taxation to ensure necessary incentives and equitable access by the poor to production-support services.

Since 1961, ACCION International has fought poverty and hunger in the Americas by encouraging the economic self-reliance of the working poor by providing basic tools, credit and business training. The ACCION network covers over 50 affiliate organizations in 14 Latin American countries and the USA. Since 1991, they have expanded to 116 new cities and towns in Latin America. In 1992, ACCION provided US$113 million in loans to over 146,700 small businesses, creating or strengthening over 144,200 jobs and benefiting hundreds of thousands of family members. In 1993, 54% of borrowers were women, and the repayment rate for small-scale business was 98%. In Bolivia, ACCION helped create the first Latin American commercial bank (BancoSol) dedicated to providing financial services to the self-employed poor, with loans averaging US$400 for over 120,000 clients since lending commenced in 1992. ACCION also operates financial services through FinanSol and Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito Solidarios in Colombia.

Christian Aid works in over 60 countries helping people, regardless of religion or race, to improve their own lives and tackle the causes of poverty and injustice.

The Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) is a partnership organization, working in over 1000 communities worldwide to tackle the causes of poverty regardless of race, religion or politics. CAFOD works hand in hand with local people to help them to respond to their own real needs, helping them to help themselves, and enabling them to work and plan for a better, safer future.

CARE International is a confederation of 10 national members in North America, Europe, Japan and Australia. CARE assists the world's poor in their efforts to achieve social and economic well-being. Their work reaches 24 million people in 62 nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Programmes include emergency relief and rehabilitation; education; health and population: children's health, reproductive health and water and sanitation; and income: small economic activity development, agriculture and community development and environment.

ActionAid focuses on long-term development, tackling the root causes of poverty. ActionAid works directly with communities on projects for 10 years or more to help them improve the quality of their lives. Based on its grassroots work with communities, ActionAid shares its practical experience and knowledge with national and international agencies and governments. By contributing to debates on poverty issues and policy decision-making ActionAid advocates for change in favour of the poor.

Continued acceptance of poverty expresses a loss of fundamental human values, of international will.
Constrained by:
Practising poverty
Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal