Ending Poverty in South Asia: Ideas That Work

Ending Poverty in South Asia: Ideas That Work

Ending Poverty in South Asia: Ideas That Work

Ending Poverty in South Asia: Ideas That Work

Synopsis

Development cannot be imposed from the outside. It has to happen from within. This groundbreaking book from South Asia shows how homegrown experiments can be scaled up to transform the lives of millions of poor women and men in the developing world. Here are stories of development ideas that work and of the visionary individuals who were determined to see them succeed. These achievements have taken place against all odds, in countries struggling with widespread corruption, weak governance, minimal infrastructure, deep-rooted social divisions, and poorly functioning judicial systems. South Asian economies are booming, yet millions are still excluded from participation in this growth. This book offers valuable lessons in how to make markets and services work to benefit poor people directly, enhancing their dignity and freedom of choice. Written by program insiders, these case studies show how governments, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector can initiate change, learning, expanding and adapting as they go. 'Ending Poverty in South Asia' is an essential tool for policy makers, social scientists, and development practitioners indeed for all who are interested in tackling poverty and growth issues from the bottom up.

Excerpt

The last two decades saw substantial change in the countries of South Asia. All countries of the subcontinent experienced more rapid growth than in the earlier decades and also saw a definite reduction in the incidence of poverty, resulting in the improvement of the lives of hundreds of millions of poor people. The extent of improvement in growth performance varied across countries and different factors were involved in different countries, but a common element was the adoption of broad based economic reforms involving rethinking of earlier approaches to development. The reforms in South Asia were notable in that they were homegrown, gradual, and accompanied by continual redesign and fine tuning.

Greater openness of economic policies was one common factor in the reforms in the countries of South Asia and it was accompanied by openness to new ideas. One of the new elements was a willingness to create space for innovations, fresh thinking and experimentation, with greater scope for decentralized initiative. This allowed visionary individuals from all segments—civil society, government, and the private sector—to undertake experiments designed to help poor people improve their lives. This book is about twelve such experiments in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. We have always had visionaries in South Asia. Some of their visions have been translated into action. But never before have so many of these innovations been 'scaled up', to benefit whole communities, districts, states, and even countries. What they did and how they did it is the subject of this book.

The book offers no pre-cooked blueprint for replication. Rather, it offers readers a look at what has worked in practice and suggests a framework for distilling the common elements across these case studies. The lessons are complex, and applying them will undoubtedly require redesign and fine-tuning to fit the initiatives to the local context. What is important, however, is that the experience of the last two decades shows us that reforms . . .

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