Over the last few decades, new magento development services on poverty have emerged. They challenge the traditional idea that lowness of income or consumption alone defines poverty. Studies of the problems of poor people and their communities and of the obstacles and opportunities to improving their situation have led to an understanding of poverty as a state of several deprivations including income. Poverty, at any level and in any country, is now widely considered to be a multidimensional problem because different types of deprivations in human lives are often interrelated and reinforce one another.
The new perspectives on poverty see it as a human condition that reflects failures in many aspects of human life and show up as hunger, unemployment, homelessness, health problems, powerlessness and victimization, and social injustice. They all add up to an assault on human well-being and dignity.
Considering the economic aspect, now it is well established that market forces alone cannot eliminate poverty. Instead, they promote inequality in wealth distribution necessitating government intervention for redistribution. However, redistribution of wealth is also not very efficient in removing poverty. In fact, the state must ensure many other things for effective poverty eradication such as expanding education and healthcare facilities, removing all forms of discriminations like those coming from gender, class or race bias to ensure social justice, remove barriers to promote participation of the poor in the social and political processes and so on.
These factors often reinforce one another. For example, lack of education is also an obstacle to other important aspects of a person’s wellbeing; for instance, employment and income and it may also lead to low awareness about nutrition, health and sanitation as well as other things vital for leading a good life. Similarly, poor health or under-nutrition degrades the overall performance of the person. Social exclusion and discrimination deny the opportunity of participation in social or political activities that affect their lives. In nutshell, all these things decrease the capabilities of the poor – looking from the capability approach of Amartya Sen.
Emerging Global Consensus
There is nothing new in these ideas but what is relatively new is the emerging consensus among development specialists and policy makers around the world on these ideas. This was reflected in the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, and as a conceptual shift in the treatment of poverty by the World Bank in their World Development Reports in the WDR 2000/01, which analyzed poverty in terms of opportunities, empowerment and vulnerability, compared with usual income focused perspective since 1980. More recently in 2010, a multidimensional poverty index was launched that probes poverty through 10 indicators and presents a graphic landscape of deprivations. It further highlights the limitations and pitfalls of the income poverty lines.
This consensus emerged as a result of some very important international debates on the 1990s. The Copenhagen Declaration at the World Summit on Social Development (WSSD) in 1995 described poverty as “a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs such as food, shelter, safe drinking water, sanitation, health, education, and information“. At the summit, world leaders reached a new consensus to put people at the center of development. They also pledged to eradicate poverty, create full employment and foster social integration.
The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) of 1994 held in Cairo resulted in a paradigm shift in the population control thought-process. It introduced the concept of “reproductive rights” of women and turned the population issue into a “development problem” while keeping women in the center of attention. It prescribed women empowerment as an important social development measure. It thus related population and women empowerment with the process of development.