The Affero Blog
Todays blog post is intended to spark conversation and/or even debate.
Global poverty is discussed everywhere today, newspapers, magazines, online, blogs, courtrooms, schools, marketplaces, homes and by governments. Many people have written great books with ideas and potential solutions to ending extreme poverty. But, is it simply a utopian idea that poverty can be eliminated worldwide? Can poverty truly be dealt with in our lifetime, and if so… how?
Poverty is a very real issue facing billions round the world. Poverty is material, emotional, personal and some could argue even spiritual, as it affects the whole person, community and even nation. So what role does government play in helping to eradicate poverty?
Jeffrey Sachs has one viewpoint -
One the other end of the spectrum would be
What do you think? Is it possible? How? What role does government play? Lets discuss…
I was watching “The End” today which is subtitled “Jake’s Story”. Jake Harriman and our friends at NURU International are battling extreme poverty by supporting amazing work in agriculture, water and sanitation, healthcare, community economic development and education. You can watch this video to see how NURU works. Others like Eugene Cho and his team at One Day’s Wages also support NURU through their innovative platform.
I first learned of ODW through their work after the floods in Pakistan. There are amazing people and organizations doing amazing work to end extreme global poverty. This is very good news. ODW asks supporters to consider the impact of your one day’s wages, which they calculate to be equal to about 0.4% of your annual salary. At ODW, 100% of your donations go directly to organizations and projects.
As I’ve shared in a previous post, Affero is a movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty. Whether you intend to give a day’s wages or a little as $1 a month, we invite you to join the movement.
Consider this: 75 million children are out of school around the world. This would be like every primary school-aged child in Europe and North America being out of school.
Receiving an education is vital to the eradication of poverty worldwide and crucial in rebuilding devastated countries and economies. Much work has been done in this area in the past 10 years but more needs to be done. In South-Asia the adult literacy rate is 63 percent, nearly 20 percent lower than the global rate, while only 43 percent of females are likely to attend secondary school. In some African countries like Burkina Faso, the adult literacy rate is only 23.6%. Access to primary education and schools for all children is a vital need to combat this major global problem. With your help, organizations like Doulos Discovery School are making a difference.
Did you know that 900 million people to do not have access to clean water and lack basic sanitation cause 80% of all sickness and disease? Our friends at Lifewater International envision is a world where every person has safe water, improved sanitation, hygiene education, and the skills they need to pass on these resources to future generations. For three decades, Lifewater has worked to provide safe water to communities around the world by working with in-country partner organizations. Lifewater has seen thousands of communities and almost two million lives transformed by clean, safe water and improved health.
Thank you for joining the movement and for sharing the good news. Together, we share the stories and raise awareness. Together, we are doing a world of good.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
This competition is a fun global action awareness campaign. All you have to do is update your facebook status to something about helping combat poverty and injustice.
- One book for the coolest facebook status update.
- A second book for whoever scores the most points in the comp.
WINNERS CHOOSE FROM THESE THREE BOOKS
The status updates need to be about seeking justice, global action, etc. Keep them positive, inspiring, challenging or fun. Link to a website, share a quote or anything else you can think of.
HOW DO YOU SCORE POINTS?
- Each unique facebook or twitter update earns you ten points.
- 2 points for linking back to this post in your status.
WHAT DO I DO?
- Fill in form linked below with each status update
Lets see if we can start a global action tidal wave of awareness. How cool would it be if we had thousands of people thinking about global issues and deciding to act this week because of our status updates?
WINNERS ANNOUNCED IN ONE WEEK ON SUNDAY 22ND AUGUST
CONTEST OPEN INTERNATIONALLY
To enter comp click here
Remember, you can just do one status update if you want. Coolest update will be judged by the Affero team and posted on our blog.
Lets make this huge!
Adapted from Mandate eNewsletter written by Steve Corbett and Dr. Brian Fikkert from The Chalmers Center
Do you remember the major earthquake has devastated China, leaving millions without food, adequate clothing, or shelter? Have you followed the trend of the growing number of homeless men in our cities? Men who are also without food, adequate clothing, or shelter. At first glance the appropriate responses to each of these crises would seem to be very similar. After all, the people in both situations all need food, clothing, and housing, and providing these things to both groups seems to be the obvious solution.
The material needs of these people may be similar. Yet these people face different crises in very different situations. As is explained in with in one webinar I recently watched, applying the same remedy to each situation might very well do harm. As in all situations, truly loving the poor requires careful analysis in order to design the appropriate response.
A helpful first step in thinking about working with the poor in any context is to discern whether the appropriate approach is to use relief, development, or some combination of the two. “Relief” can be defined as the urgent and temporary provision of resources to reduce immediate suffering from natural or man-made disasters. Relief is the first response that comes to most people’s minds when they see the suffering of others. “Development” can be defined as a process of ongoing change in which people are moved closer towards being in right relationship with God, with themselves, with others, and with creation. As people develop, amongst other things, they are better able to support themselves through their own work.
Both relief and development can be appropriate interventions. But if we do relief when we should do development, we can actually hurt the very people we are trying to help. For example, giving food to an able-bodied person who persistently refuses to take advantage of opportunities to work will simply enable them to continue to live irresponsibly, thereby hindering their “development” of better relationships with God, with themselves, with others, and with creation. In such a situation, not providing this person with relief would be the loving thing to do. But that doesn’t mean that our responsibilities towards them end. On the contrary, our neighbor in this instance needs “development,” which will be far more time-consuming for us, as we seek to walk alongside of this person and help them to develop better work habits.
Diagnosing the Situation. How can you discern whether relief or development is the appropriate approach? Unfortunately, there is no magic formula, but there are some principles you can use.
A good rule of thumb outlined in the When Helping Hurts self study course is that you should not habitually do for somebody what they can do for themselves, for if you do so you will undermine their development as stewards of their own gifts and abilities. Many well-meaning ministries routinely violate this principle, thereby doing serious harm to the development of the very people they are trying to help. For example, years ago one of the authors of this article helped to mobilize his church to volunteer at a homeless shelter. The church members graciously bought food, prepared a meal, served it to the residents of the shelter, and cleaned up afterwards. The homeless men were never asked to lift a finger in the entire process, thereby confirming their perspective that they were incapable of taking charge of their lives. A more developmental approach—and a more time-consuming one—would have involved the homeless men in every stage of the process, from planning the meal, to shopping for the food, to helping with serving and clean-up.
Providing Relief Effectively. If you determine that relief is the appropriate response, there are some principles that can help to make your efforts more effective.
First, relief needs to be immediate. If a person is in the midst of suffering from a crisis and cannot help themselves, a timely response is crucial. For example, when a large-scale, natural disaster hits, the victims cannot wait weeks while churches or organizations try to think of what they should do. Neither can they wait while organizations and churches try to secure funding. What is true for large-scale disasters is true for the battered woman who has bravely come to the church office seeking safe shelter. Sending her back home to wait while the church tries to find her some alternative shelter is not a good relief response.
In order to provide timely relief it is important to engage in disaster preparedness. This means simply looking ahead and forecasting the types of relief situations that the church or organization may encounter. Financial, material, and human resources can be identified and secured to be ready to be put into play at the right time. We can obtain or create a directory of services that are available in the community to address relief needs. We can organize ourselves by identifying who would be ready to give of themselves to help someone who is in the midst of a crisis. Such help could include opening their home for a few nights, providing transportation to an agency or taking a person out to eat.
Relief is temporary, provided only during the time that people are unable to help themselves. Determining when to stop relief is never easy. On the one hand, we can make the mistake of ending our assistance too early. An uninsured family facing ongoing medical bills due to an unforeseen health emergency may need more than a single gift of $100. On the other hand, if relief is given for too long, it can do harm. Because the primary relationship in relief work is that of provider and receiver, prolonged help can move beyond appropriate alleviation of suffering to the creation of unhealthy dependency. Again, do not habitually do for people what they can do for themselves.
Doing Development Successfully. The majority of poverty in the world does not stem from some temporary crisis such as an earthquake in China. Hence, providing temporary relief is unlikely to solve most of global poverty. A longer approach that gets at deeper issues will be needed.
What are those deeper issues? What is the cause of poverty?
Engaging in development work must understand its long-term nature. Development is a slow, ongoing process of change. It involves addressing large, foundational problems that are not quickly or easily fixed. Often we are addressing decades or even centuries of brokenness on both the personal and structural levels. Bringing reversal or renewal can also take such lengths of time.
Second, everyone is living in poverty at some level, and thus everyone is in need of development. While many of us are not economically poor, we are all poor in the sense that we are all suffering from the effects of the fall. Embracing this truth is crucial if we are to have the humility of heart and mind that is necessary in order to help the economically poor. Such an attitude helps combat feelings of superiority as well as the god-complex that leads us to believe that we need to “save” the poor. Both of these mindsets can create paternalistic actions and programs that communicate to the economically poor that they are inferior to us. What is needed are people who are broken and ready to have their own lives changed even as they seek to be agents of change in the lives of others.
Third, development needs to be done at the individual as well as at the societal level. Thus, housing development can be the rehab of a single home of someone in your community, or it can be a major housing renewal throughout the neighborhood. Development can be tutoring a child after school, or it can be the creation of a quality school in the community.
Fourth, it can also be said that development is a process carried out through the vehicle of “products.” For example, wells for clean drinking water, improved crops, rehabilitated housing, more small businesses, and new schools are all products. They are easy to photograph and document. But the process used to create these products is at the heart of development. Did the low-income people participate in the process in such a way as to increase their knowledge, attitudes, skills, and power so as to better provide for their families and to create stronger, safer, and healthier communities? Did the well-to-do enter into the development process with the economically poor, or did they try to do development to the poor? If it was toinstead of with, then it is unlikely that real development occurred.
Indeed, one of the central factors in the quality and thus impact of the development process is the type and degree of participation of the poor in their own development. The more the poor are at the planning table, the more they are fully engaged in implementation of these plans, and the more they have a voice in the evaluation process (i.e. measuring success), the more effective the development process will be. The role of the worker in such participatory development is to be an encourager, a catalyst, a facilitator, and a networker.
So what does it all mean? What does it mean for us as a community? What can we do NOW? Let the discussion begin…
In a landmark vote, the UN General Assembly on Thursday declared Water to be a human right, “essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” With nearly 900 million people worldwide without safe drinking water and 2.6 billion without access to basic sanitation, the declaration by the UN seems a no-brainer – especially when they are responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million children each year.
However, the implications of declaring something a basic human right reach far beyond just an idealistic notion. Officially recognizing water and sanitation as a fundamental human right is a legal act with strong ramifications.
“Human rights are protected by internationally guaranteed standards that ensure the fundamental freedoms and dignity of individuals and communities.They include civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Human rights principally concern the relationship between the individual and the State. Governmental obligations with regard to human rights can broadly be categorized in obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill” (WHO, 2002).
And therein lies the problem. With the acknowledgement that it is a right comes the obligation to act – and in this arena, the principle actors are governments. By guaranteeing safe water to a population, there are overwhelming challenges that are expensive, time consuming, and more often than not, political. To often, governments are unwilling to shoulder this responsibility.
Ultimately, the question is – “how important is this?”. Personally, I tend to put very little reliance on governments and large agencies with large-scale initiatives. All too often they create dependence through top-down, paternalistic programs. And yet if we take an honest assessment of our own lives we come to the inevitable conclusion that we ourselves are highly dependent upon the infrastructure implemented and maintained by our governments. In development work, cooperation and collaboration with local government is an essential component – even at a grassroots level. By gaining buy-in and and long-term commitments from government for supporting essential services, the quality and sustainability of programs like safe water and sanitation are greatly enhanced. The greatest challenge, however has been gaining this buy-in. Though it won’t happen overnight, this resolution combined with ongoing efforts, will help governments to begin to take the necessary steps towards providing for their own people.
There is, however, one overarching attitude in the resolution that is regrettable – it is one that places primary responsibility on rich countries to bring change. This is one of the central themes that plagues international development. The trillions of dollars that have been poured into the developing world over the last three decades attests that money is not the primary barrier to poverty alleviation. Responsible use is. The West can only do so much – ultimately national governments must be willing to take responsibility for their own populations. Water and Sanitation provision is a great start.
Over and over you’ll hear me talk about our part in driving positive solutions. The expectations and demands you place on implementing organizations has a profound effect on how they execute programs. Ask the organizations you support how they garner buy-in and participation from local government and if their strategies incorporate handing off programs to local government or local organizations. Though not always done well, it is among the indicators used to judge the viability of a program.
Part of our mission at The Affero Project is to fight poverty, create jobs and transform lives by empowering the poor in developing countries. At times, we do this by partnering with organizations offering technical assistance and using innovative savings and microcredit programs. We support business training and holistic development strategies.
What is the need? The world has deep poverty amid plenty. 50% of the world’s population of 6 billion people survives on less than $2 a day. 20% of the world’s population survives on less than $1 a day. 20% of the world’s children never reach their fifth birthday. 50% of the world’s children suffer from some form of malnourishment.
When Helping Hurts. I posted “Not all poverty is created equal.” this weekend as my status on facebook. An interesting conversation followed. It seems that many folks recognize that many times in our attempts to alleviate poverty, we hurt the poor and ourselves.
One friend commented on my post pointing to a resource written in part by Brian Fikkert.
Good Intentions Are Not Enough. We need to address faulty assumptions about the causes of poverty. Many times our assumptions lead to strategies that do considerable harm to poor people as well as to themselves. “When Helping Hurts“ addresses these assumptions and offers several principles and strategies for poverty alleviation. It unpacks the distinctions between relief, rehabilitation, and development. The authors explain the difference between asset-based and needs-based strategies. Effective development is not done to people or for people but with people.
Is microenterprise development a proven solution? Microenterprise development is a very efficient way to help the poor in developing countries. Watch this quick video to catch a glimpse of this great work being done by organizations like Five Talents. With just a small amount of money, enterprising individuals can begin to break out of poverty. Providing poor entrepreneurs with capital and training to start and expand small businesses creates income for healthcare, education and food on the table.
What type of jobs are we talking about? The majority of businesses are in food production and sales, street vending, brick manufacturing, shoe making, carpentry, auto repair, beauty salons, office services and tailoring. These businesses provide a lifeline for families overcoming poverty.
With your help more enterprising poor will receive funding, consulting, or training. Will you join us and share with others how we can partner with people in the some of the poorest countries in the world? With your monthly giving, we can support great organizations financing thousands of $50 to $300 loans to poor entrepreneurs in countries like Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
How many times have I flushed the toilet today?
Today I’ve had a shower, washed my hands, washed the dishes (I am a real man), been to the bathroom, washed my car, drank water from the tap and watered my (dying) oh-so-thriving plants.
I like flushing the toilet. I really like it when my kids flush the toilet (hint hint:my son Samuel). I like hot showers.
I take water for granted. And why not? It’s always there…
Or is it?
Across our planet, 884 million people lack access to clean water. That’s just a statistic, right? Until you meet the someone who doesn’t have access to clean water, and we met many of those somebodies during our trip in Uganda.
Me and a Village in the North of Uganda
Lucas, Marc and I set out to visit a village near Lira. We drove in on a psycho rough road ending up spectacularly bogged in a creek. It was amusing. At first.
We went forward. Reversed. Wheels spinning but no progress. Marc and Lucas bounced and yahoo-ed on the back of the car while reversing (not exactly sure who’s idea that was!!?!). Finally, after an hour we spluttered out.
The little village had several huts which made up this impoverished community. As we drove in, the children came running out. The kids were pumped to see visitors, but seemed to hold a sadness. In fact, the whole village has a haunting story – it had only just been resettled. The villagers had returned from spending several years in an IDP(Internal displaced people’s) camp.
An IDP camp(a term new to me) is like a refugee camp except your within your own country. You are internally displaced.
The LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) reeked havoc on this community: killing and stealing children for their war.
The people told us that they were devastated and constantly worried the army would return, so they hadn’t resettled or planted their crops properly. They lacked a hope for the future, wearily hanging onto existence.
Until this trip, I didn’t quite realise how not having access to clean water impacted peoples lives. The people were drinking water that makes them sick, the children were most vulnerable. Until Lifewater International partnered with another organisation and helped out. It was still evident that many of the kids were malnourished and several of them had swollen bellies from worms. This well is bringing hope back to the community and saving lives.
In this region of Uganda only 46% of people have access to clean drinking water.
Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. (What the!? That’s insane!)
In the developing world, 24,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes like diarrhea contracted from unclean water. 1.4 million children die as a result of diarrhea each year.
How you can make an impact:
Vote for clean water on The Affero Project
Did you know that 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day? Or that 840 million people do not have enough to eat? That’s a lot of hungry people. Did you know that a billion people lack access to clean water and 2 billion lack access to sanitation? Meanwhile, millions of people die each year from the same malaria we’ve eradicated in the U.S. and 10 million children are expected to die this year from other preventable diseases.
These are the devastating realities of poverty today.
This week at Acton Institute, I met with thought leaders and proven practitioners from over 50 countries, all looking to bridge the gap between good intentions and sound economic practices. These are amazing people doing great things. During one session, I had a conversation with Dr. Michael Miller, who shared many crushing statistics and pointed out that the bulk of foreign aid has been largely ineffective in alleviating poverty. Michael reported that not only is there no correlation between aid given and economic growth achieved, many times foreign aid ends up subsiding oppressive regimes and harmfully politicizing attempts to foster development.
How can we change this? We need to have a heart and a mind for the poor.
In their book, When Helping Hurts, Steve Corbett and Brian Kikkert write that expensive and well-intended programs often penalize work, undermine families and create dependence – perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Trillions of dollars have been spent attempting to address world wide poverty. Yet these programs are failing miserably. What can be done?
This week I was encouraged by many examples of enterprising leaders developing new models of business succeeding in the poorest of countries, raising the worker’s wages and creating new jobs for others. For instance, you may have heard of micro-lending institutions like Kiva which connect micro-leanders and budding entrepreneurs online. With a few clicks, you can find an enterprising person from across the globe like Pendu Luisi, a 27 year old who borrowed $175 to open a cafe in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Pendu is highly motivated and simply needed to be given an opportunity to engage the powerfully productive free market. With the partnership of a micro-lender, Pendu is a successful entrepreneur with great hope for the future. I keep hearing stories like these and I am encouraged. This is good news and it is spreading. I recently heard the president of Rwanda say that entrepreneurism is the backbone of a new Rwanda. Innovative development efforts are focusing on the individual and are empowering micro-businesses owned and run by the poor like Pendu. This is working. New wealth is being unleashed through new businesses. Through exciting efforts like these, the poor are being given a hand up, instead of being dependent on a hand out. And as Pendu can atttest, business is good. She earns up to $5 a day and has even hired a shop assistant.
The Affero Project is on the move! We are a growing community working against poverty and injustice, committed to bringing hope and empowering people all over the world. While Marc and Lucas are in Africa this week, Christian and I are headed to Alive ’10, a music festival at Atwood Lake Park in Mineral City Park. We’ll be hanging out with some of our favorite affangelists, showing our “I’m In” promo in between performances and making loads new friends. So watch for my post next week and I’ll plan to share some highlights from this event.
When I was in downtown Grand Rapids this week walking to a meeting, I saw a bus with one of those “Rent this ad space” signs on it. It read, “MOVE YOUR MESSAGE” and it made me think of you. You’ve hear me say that you are the vehicle for spreading the word about Affero. It’s true. The way we share information on the internet now makes it possible for us to get together and get things done like never before. Thank you for sharing this post on via facebook, twitter and the rest. And if you haven’t already, get on the bus and don’t forget to spread the word. Peace.
What is poverty? It has been said that poverty is a result of relationships that do not work and that are not just.
Consider the poverty of pre-earthquake Haiti. Before the earthquake that shook Haiti, 75% of the people already lived on less than $2/day and over 50% lived on less than $1/day. Half of the people had no access to potable water and over 50% were illiterate. They had the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world outside sub-saharan Africa. 1/3 of women have been violently sexually abused and there are high rates of child abuse and trafficking. Clearly, relationships in Haiti need help.
Last week I met a courageous young missionary raising support so that she can serve full time as coordinator for Ten Days Mission Experience. When Kerren Barker was in high school, a friend invited her to join him on a missions trip to Haiti. This trip changed her life and set the stage for serving others through short term mission trips.
A local doctor, Dave Vanderpool, owns lave md, a practice that offers laser and vein esthetics. Dave uses his business to fund mobile medical disaster relief, meeting the medical needs of the vulnerable and underserved people in the United States and throughout the world. Every month, this doctor works three weeks stateside and one week serving in Haiti. He’s fostering relationships that work.
Next week, Marc and Lucas are taking The Affero Project to Africa. Watch for their posts to track with them and the good they are up to. Perhaps you’d like to go on a short term trip with us sometime? Kerren and Dave will tell you it’s life-changing.
I was reading a First Fruits report this week that made me think of you. Together, we are pioneering new ways to do philanthropy. We are a community vetting and evaluating partnerships that alleviate poverty and fight injustices. The Affero Project is a community educating and empowering one another, building relationships that work. In some ways we serve as an aggregator for good news. In other ways we act as a micro-donor advised fund where you bring your creative energy and circle of friends to the table so that we can do more good.
Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and tell them “I’m In.” If you haven’t already, join now. $1 can actually change the world. With your help, more people will give and more people will serve. More relationships around the globe will work. And it will make all the difference in the world.