The unfinished task of eradicating rural poverty (2009)

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Poverty has many dimensions and each has its own causes and determinants that vary over time. At the  conceptional level, there is now a much deeper understanding of the nature and causes of poverty, but in practice, the negative and positive factors that may tend to increase or decrease poverty often operate simultaneously. It is therefore difficult to predict whether a given package of interventions will actually lead to poverty reduction.

The most common indicator of poverty is a pre-determined income level below which a family cannot survive. One dollar per day is widely accepted as the cut-off point to categorise those who are living in extreme poverty. There is also the related concept of consumption based poverty, or the basic needs perspective (minimum food per capita, access to clean drinking water, basic health facilities or primary education).

These supplementary indicators of poverty are dependent on family income, but not entirely. In some countries a given level of per capita income may not be accompanied by corresponding level of food security or access to basic needs. These relationships vary enormously from one country to another. A careful analysis of this relationship and the variation from one country to the other can provide a very good starting point for evolving a national strategy for poverty reduction. The causes of poverty are often  structural and inherent. The root of these structural causes lies in the basic social structure of a rural society, with its inequitable distribution of land and a feudal ethnic or tribal  system which often perpetuates this inequality Continuing population growth further reduces the per capita land holding or other assets of the family. The poor in any society are not a homogenous group, but an amalgam of different groups each with its own social or ethnic handicaps and political alignments. Women in general are more disadvantaged than men.
Language: English
Imprint: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) (background paper for the IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2009): http://www.ifad.org/poverty/aziz.pdf 2009
Series: Discussion paper,