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Poverty Alleviation and Job Creation

Christianity Today recently ran this article: “Cost-Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor,” citing the opinions of 16 economists who specialize in analyzing development programs. The economists, who responded separately to a survey provided by Christianity Today, largely agreed on their rankings of poverty alleviation strategies, yielding a top ten list. Peter Greer, president and CEO of HOPE International, has written an excellent response to this article. Read an excerpt of his response below.
It’s not news: Getting a job is probably the most basic way to get out of poverty. That’s why I’m amazed by the fact that in Christianity Today’s list of top 10 poverty alleviation strategies, only one directly involves job creation (microfinance). See list below.
  1. Get clean water to rural villages.
  2. Fund de-worming treatments for children.
  3. Provide mosquito nets.
  4. Sponsor a child.
  5. Give wood-burning stoves.
  6. Give a microfinance loan.
  7. Fund reparative surgeries.
  8. Donate a farm animal.
  9. Drink fair-trade coffee.
  10. Give a kid a laptop.
These solutions are critically important, but primarily address poverty’s symptoms instead of its root cause. They also emphasize what “we” can provide instead of recognizing that imported solutions rarely last. Job creation is doing more than just treating poverty’s symptoms. It challenges the notion that the poor are helpless, powerless, and voiceless.  With a job, the poor can work to provide for their families. They can use their creativity and pursue their dreams. And they can build a better world for their children.
Read the remainder of Greer’s post, which highlights specific organizations that are getting it right when it comes to job creation in the developing world.