In the second session of the Working Group on Multi-Dimensional Poverty Christopher Maclay and Hannah Marsden presented their work with Shiree (Bangladesh), an organization working on income generation opportunities through cash transfers for the extreme poor in Bangladesh. They identified that the extreme poor, even when given the chance, rarely choose to invest their income in sustainable methods of development. It was proposed that studying the psychology of people living in extreme poverty would achieve greater understanding of how to develop effective programming for these people. The costing of psychological help as well as the proposed expansion was questioned, and the proponent acknowledged the difficulties but the necessity of this additional skill set and the future of the programme.(Irrational behaviour, agency and cash transfers - Christopher Maclay and Hannah Marsden, Shiree, www.Shiree.com)
Ownership and policy space in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers PRSPs - Meg Elkins, RMIT, Australia
Meg Elkins outlined her research on 81 World Bank PRSPs covering 58 countries, looking at 72 policy options to assess their correlation to either the Washington Consensus Model, Post-Washington Consensus Model and the New York Consensus Model. Her findings challenged previous contentions on the dominance of the Washington Consensus and growing in dominance of Post-Washington Consensus, but contended that the New York Consensus was equally as present as Washington Consensus thinking in the PRSP reports, challenging the hegemony of ideas. It was clarified that the PRSPs are a wish list, not actualities and thus further research must be done on their implementation.
Linking taxation to the relations of MDGs in Africa -Attiya Waris, University of Nairobi
Dr Waris presented her work on linking tax revenues to fund development on human rights. Her research presented the positive correlation between countries that provide taxation and countries on the path to complete their Millennium Development Goals. Out of the 51 African countries studied, the countries with an established tax system had higher literacy rates, lower infant mortality and better gender equality. However taxation did not positively correlate with HIV reduction. The reason for this was seen to be higher charity intervention in this area. Her findings also showed that often resource rich countries had poorer tax systems but were still not using their resources adequately for poverty reduction.
She proposed that the UN MDG monitoring framework should consider taxation as a development mechanism, and that more research should be done into tax justice, tax corruption, and tax conflict in developing countries. She was questioned on the problem of tax evasion by high earners and the ethics of expecting the poor to pay tax, especially when the revenues created by tax cannot be guaranteed to be used for poverty reduction.
Decentralization and Poverty reduction: exploring linkages and impact - Saijad Ali Khan, University of Hong Kong
Saijad Ali Khan proposed that decentralization could improve poverty reduction by reducing corruption.
His research showed that although poverty has not been the main motivation of decentralization to that point, decentralization did much to provide political stability, enhance participation of the people, ensure transparency and accountability and improve delivery of services, all factors that contribute to poverty reduction.
He also argued that decentralization could result in economic growth by improving the efficiency of resource allocation, reducing corruption and improving cost recovery. He also discovered that decentralization is much more effective if not imposed but allowed to grow organically.
The questions highlighted that decentralization does not always result in less corruption, using the case of the Indian state system.
Private education, religion and school targeting. Are private schools targeting the poor?The case of Madagascar - Franco-Borge Wietzke, London School of Economics, UK
Franco Borge Wietzke’s presentation discussed the proposed link between religious school targeting and religious inequality in education. His main findings were that private and religious schools were unevenly targeted geographically with bias to historically religious areas, and that this was exacerbating inequalities between religious groups. He also found that private schools were providing a better education, and the quality difference was also exacerbating religious divides.
His findings showed that children were not being discriminated against on account of class, yet private schools tended to be located in Christian areas, which were consequently the better off areas, which meant targeting non-Christian poor children difficult. Thus the geographical location of church schools creates a regressive impact on equality in Madagascar’s overall education system.
He concluded that, despite universal primary education, quality of education is determined by proximity to religious areas.
In the third session of the Working Group on Multi-Dimensional Poverty the following papers were discussed.
Beyond 2015: Sustainable achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the Case of St Lucia - David Durkee, University of East London.
St Lucia claimed to have achieved the Millennium Development Goals in 2004. David Archer completed fieldwork to see if all the conditions had really been met. Their findings acknowledged the massive contribution tourism attributes to St Lucia’s GDP, with 1 million tourists visiting the island per year. It was noted tourism is an industry which is both an obstacle and an engine for sustainable development.
David Durkee’s argument was that St Lucia has been able to cope with the negative effects of tourism with a community led approach. He related one case of a ‘Friday Fish Feast’ which generated jobs from tourism income. This allowed community relations to grow and flourish, attributing to the region’s overall development. Thus Durkee argued that community contribution to St Lucia’s achievement of the MDGs must be understood when looking at the proclaimed government achievement.
The questions centered around the analysis of the benefits of community level development, as well as the time old question of whether the MDGs are the best way to measure development.
New MDGs, Development Concepts and Principles in a post-2015 World - Elaine Unterhalter, Institute of Education UK
Elaine Unterhalter’s paper build on the development of the post MDGs. A discussion unfolded on new norms of development which should be advocated for from the grassroots e.g. through the work of activists, teachers.
Re conceptualising poverty for optimising poverty reduction: the basic means approach - Prince Osei-Wusu Adjei, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana.
Prince Osei-Wusu Adjei argued that poverty is now everybody’s business. His work focused on poverty reduction in rural Ghana, in regions which have failed to capitalize on Ghana’s overall development. His suggestion was to separate the effects of poverty from the causes of poverty. He saw the main cause of poverty as low income and poor poverty knowledge.
The questioning centered on the whether the poor are the best subjects to know about poverty, and it was agreed that local knowledge is essential in strategizing for change.
On not ‘Bouncing Back’ Questioning Resilience - Andrew Crabtree, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.
Andrew Crabtree presented his research on the psychosocial consequences of flooding following the 2008 Kosi River flood in India. His main discussion was on whether the notion of resilience can help understand such an event? The fieldwork provided examples of people failing to ‘bounce back’ after the loss of their livelihoods. It was found that resilience is greatest when people have the opportunity to make their lives better than before e.g. develop their livelihoods. Thus there needs to be the resources in place to develop this, otherwise there are high risks for post-disaster communities being plunged further into poverty.
Report by Emily Hickson.