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  Global Views
Poverty Reduction in Interventions
Special Contribution
By Ram Kumar Phuyal
Hunger in Africa

Poverty is a deprivation of essential assets and opportunities to which every human is entitled. Everyone should have access to basic education and primary health services. Poor households have the right to sustain themselves by their labor and be reasonably rewarded, as well as having some protection from external shocks. Beyond income and basic services, individuals and societies are also poor—and tend to remain so—if they are not empowered to participate in making the decisions that shape their lives. The poor are not of a homogenous group. Just as the nature of poverty is diverse, so, too, are its causes and victims. The poor may not have acquired essential assets because they live in a remote or resource poor area; or because they are vulnerable on account of age, health, living environment, or occupation. They may be denied access to assets because they belong to an ethnic minority or a community considered socially inferior, or simply because they are female or disabled. Indeed, the effect of famine and food security are also of not less values. At a broader level, poverty may stem from situations where gross inequality of assets persists because of vested interests and entrenched power structures.


Famine and food security are at opposite ends of a spectrum. It is only in modern times that entire societies, as opposed to privileged members of those societies, have been able to escape from chronic hunger and the constant threat of famine. Many countries in the developing world, especially in Africa and South Asia, have not managed to achieve this objective. In these countries, the challenge of understanding the factors that cause widespread hunger and vulnerability to famines, and the mechanisms available to alleviate their impact, has remained important. So one should emphasizes that there is a different way to approach the problem, however. Rather than asking how to cope with hunger and famine, the question might be how to escape from their threat altogether. The main premise of this article is that an early escape from hunger is not primarily the result of private decisions in response to free-market forces. Improved food security stems directly from a set of government policies that integrate the food economy into a development strategy that seeks rapid economic growth with improved income distribution. Countries in East and Southeast Asia offer evidence that with such policies, poor countries can escape from hunger in two decades or less, that is, in the space of a single generation.


Identifying and measuring poverty is an important issue facing policymakers every where in the world. Every year the US Bureau of Labor Statistics goes through the exercise of counting the poor. It describes poor people—their age, education, location, race, family composition and employment. Instead of defining "the poverty threshold of income," it calculates 6l different levels of poverty: for elderly couples, for one person and for families with different numbers of adults and children. But this definition of poverty itself almost 30 years old. Policy still depends on the pioneering work of Mollie Orshanksy, a brilliant economist who invented the basic method in 1965, and who received little or no credit for her research, even as it affected millions of lives. She knew that, in the mid-Sixties, people spent about one-third of their income for food. She defined poverty, therefore, as three times the dollar amount needed to buy a nutritious but low-cost diet.

Actually poverty should be first measured on the basis of income, expenditures, or consumption of every household and should be clearly defined poverty line i.e. absolute or relative. Whether the size and the composition of households are modified(economy of scale) etc. It should be mentioned that there is no perfect indicator identifying the living standard. Each of existing indicators has its advantages and disadvantages, which cannot serve as a basis for the rejection of poverty measurement. However, one should be careful towards poverty assessment and should be well aware of the method of the development of indicators we want to use.

Within this general framework, household survey could be consider as one of the reliable sources of information to be used for the purpose of poverty assessment in the country. By this survey Living Standard Indicators can be obtained such as Financial poverty i.e. the low income and insufficient consumption and Non-financial poverty that covers; Poor health, low level of education , Social exclusion , Vulnerability, Lack of freedom or no "freedom of voice" to identify those all things a monetary measurement is required and this is belong with the most reliable aggregated indicator i.e. income or consumption. In the majority of industrially developed countries, including the USA, the living standard and poverty are measured not on the basis of consumption but on the basis of income. In countries with low level of living standards the indicator of consumption is used. Each of the indicators has its advantages and disadvantages. During the live circle incomes are more liable to fluctuations than the consumption. It is hard to monitor some components of income like income from employment in shadow economy. In such a difficult phase of the dynamics of an economy, the latest concept 'Have Occupation & Eradicate Poverty' of Prof. Mohammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Prize winner for the year 2006, could be an appropriate tools for reducing the poverty level. Undoubtedly, the methodology of his great model can be a milestone not only to the policy makers but also would be an encouraging awards to all the poor people of the world for their direct involvement in some innovative works with their existing level of own resources.


Finally, essential assets may not be available to the poor
because of the lack of political will, inadequate governance, and inappropriate public policies and programs. The primary responsibility for finding solutions to poverty lies with countries themselves, but success will depend on the united efforts of government and civil society, and on strong and sustained support from the international community. For all stakeholders, the strategies chosen to reduce poverty must be comprehensive enough to address all of its many causes. So, the state has to concentrate on the twin pillars of pro-poor, sustainable economic growth and social development as the key elements in any framework for reducing poverty.

Successful achievement of either element requires sound macroeconomic management and good governance, the third pillar. Together, the three pillars result in socially inclusive development. However, for socially inclusive development to be achieved, better understanding is needed of the environmental implications of policies to reduce poverty, and of the impacts on the poor of environmental policies. The poverty-environment nexus has, essentially, two broad components. On one hand, are the "brown issues" involving polluting industries that locate in areas populated by the poor on account of lax regulation and enforcement. Also included in this category is the air and water pollution that occurs in mega cities, where the poor live in the worst affected localities. On the other hand, are the "green issues" of deforestation, rapid depletion of natural resources, and land degradation. Both sets of issues have a direct bearing on the deepening of poverty.

Eventually, poverty-reducing interventions can be short term, such as those that sustain the supply of basic services to the poor during emergencies ; medium term, such as those that help address structural issues affecting delivery of basic services and other targeted poverty interventions; or long term, such as those that stimulate pro-poor growth and encourage expansion of the private sectors.

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Mr. Ram Kumar Phuyal, who is currently a Nepalese Ph.D. scholar in Econometrics at Chonnam National University, S. Korea, serves as a special columnist for The Seoul Times. Mr. Phuyal specializes in writing on economic policy. He earned his master's degree from Tribhuvan University in Nepal.






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