Human Rights and Choice in Poverty: Food Insecurity, Dependency, and Human Rights-Based Development Aid for the Third World Rural Poor

Synopsis

This interdisciplinary study applies human rights theory to the problems of rural poverty in the Third World. Considering the interdependence of minimal food and health security with minimal assurance of basic freedoms, political scientist Alan G. Smith traces the linkage to the need of the food-insecure to seek "clientelistic dependencies" on better-off neighbors--relationships that often operate to restrict freedom of choice. In contrast to conventional rural development aid, which can introduce new client dependency if pursued alone, Smith stresses the need to find other forms of aid that would provide the option of assured minimal survival while avoiding the constraints imposed by dependency. Arguing for bolstering bottom-up human rights momentum, he suggests the transfer of simple, appropriate tools into the hands of the target group. Recipients would make use of them to enhance autonomous food-crop production, thereby making client dependency a matter of choice rather than necessity.