Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Dynamics of Poverty in Developing Countries: Review of Poverty Reduction Approaches

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Dynamics of Poverty in Developing Countries: Review of Poverty Reduction Approaches

Article excerpt


The term poverty has been described in different ways throughout the world due to its multidimensional nature. Whereas some countries and geographical regions view poverty as deprivation, others are concerned with social exclusion and inequality in resource distribution. Despite the differences in poverty interpretations, many countries in the developing world have adopted universal poverty reduction approaches over the years. This paper analyzes the conceptual underpinnings of poverty focusing on its evolution, the multidimensional definitions, and poverty reduction efforts implemented over the past 50 years. Using secondary data analysis, the paper reveals the universal approaches to poverty reduction have yielded few successes, and recommends that poverty should be viewed as a global phenomenon but tackled at the local level using local indicators. To achieve sustainable development, developing countries should focus on meeting the basic needs of their inhabitants and be committed to ensuring stable political and economic environment.

Keywords: developing countries, poverty, poverty reduction, sustainable development

1. Introduction

Poverty is one of the most widespread and persistent social problems in the world especially in the developing countries (Deguara, 2008; Knowles, 2000; Lehning, Vu, & Pintak, 2006; Todaro & Smith, 2006). However, it continues unabated despite many efforts by national and international community (Atinmo, Mirmiran, Oyewole, Belahsen, & Serra-Majem, 2009). Global statistics on poverty are alarming, as close to half of the world's seven billion people live on less than US$2 a day, and are denied basic human development opportunities such as education, health, dignity, freedom, socio-political participation and access to resources (Singleton, 2003; Vollmer, 2010). According to Bastiaensen, De Herdt and D'Exelle (2005) poverty is not an individual characteristic, but rather characterizes the situation in which individuals or groups of people find themselves at a point in time, making poverty an intractable problem for social scientists and policymakers (Rupasingha & Goetz, 2003).

The most widely held view is that poverty is detrimental to sustainable development, and that it encourages "negative and unsustainable natural resource exploitation practices" (Ashiomanedu, 2008, p.156). Pearce and Barbier (2000) observe that the relationship between the environment and the economy is central to sustainable development, thus worsening poverty condition is detrimental to development and environmental conservation objectives. Owing to the challenge poverty poses to sustainable development, poverty eradication has become the "greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, particularly for developing countries" (United Nations [UN], 2002, p.9). As a result the "nature and causes of poverty and interventions to improve the living conditions of the poor continue to be a priority area of research" (Rao, 2003, p.2).

Given that over 2.5 billion people in the world earn an income of US$ 2 or less a day and are confronted with the reality and severity of poverty (Watkins, 2005), both the developed and the developing countries are seeking sustainable solutions to the phenomenon (Morazes & Pintak, 2006). Current global commitment to reduce poverty is shown through the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (UN, 2010). However as Domfeh and Bawole (2009) claim, the form and nature of poverty vary from one region to the other. This paper therefore examines the historical trend of poverty discussions and the multidimensional definitions of poverty with reference to the developing countries. The paper further reviews the poverty reduction programs implemented over the past 50 years, their successes and challenges.

2. Method

This review is based on the analysis of old and recent literature. …

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