The time for making poverty history is now


In rich countries a handful of dollars does not go very far, indeed most people in the UK wouldn’t think twice about spending this on a cup of coffee.  But one in five people in the world today has no choice but to survive on less than US$2 a day, and 1.5 billion people struggle to live on less than US$1. The vast majority of those affected are children, each an individual story of unfulfilled hope and potential.

Few would dispute that ‘a world free from poverty’ is the overwhelming challenge of the 21st century. The crucial issue is how to achieve this. In Just Give Money to the Poor:  The Development Revolution from the Global South (Kumarian Press, 2010), Hanlon, Barrientos and Hulme discuss a wave of new thinking on development that is sweeping across the South. Instead of relying on a large and expensive aid industry to find ways to ‘help the poor’, it is better to transfer money and resources directly to the households in poverty so that they are able to find effective the most effective ways to escape from poverty.

This is the premise behind social transfer programmes such as Mexico’s Oportunidades, Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, South Africa’s Child Support Grant, and India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. They all provide regular transfers of money to households in poverty with the aim of improving their nutrition, making sure children go to school, and ensuring that expectant mothers have regular check-ups.

This does not rule out the need for investment in economic growth and basic services. Small transfers to very poor households help provide access to new economic opportunities and vital health and education services. Without such transfers, the costs of transport, school uniforms, medicines, and job search could well be prohibitive.

Social transfer programmes do not throw money from helicopters. They carefully select and monitor recipients, ensure they are well informed about objectives, and track outcomes. In Latin America, transfers are paid directly to mothers thus strengthening their voice within the household. The responsibilities of the government and the households are carefully discussed at registration.

Despite attempts by the aid industry to take credit for these initiatives, social transfer programmes are most often national responses to local problems. Brazil’s Bolsa Familia began as a municipal programme in Campinas in 1994/5 and is built on domestic learning and experience of what works to reduce poverty. India’s National Employment Guarantee Scheme, which guarantees one hundred days labour on demand to unemployed rural heads of household, also builds on a careful assessment of similar programmes in Maharashtra and elsewhere.  . Social transfer programmes have high set up costs and for this reason international assistance is important in low income countries. Nonetheless, sustainability and legitimacy requires domestic political support and finance in the medium term. Giving money to households in poverty is a ‘Southern project’, as the considerable diversity of programmes around the developing world demonstrates.

Important challenges remain, especially in low income countries lacking the capacity to design, deliver, and finance social transfer programmes. In many countries their institutionalisation is precarious. The existing social transfer programmes need to be seen as a first stage in the development of  strong and stable institutions,  able to protect poor and vulnerable populations in the South from the volatility and crisis of the global economy on. Acknowledging these challenges, the book makes the important point that knowledge on how to eradicate poverty is already freely available if only we care to learn from the South.

Armando Barrientos – Professor and Research Director, Brooks World Poverty Institute

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92 Responses to “The time for making poverty history is now”

  1. From Poverty to Power by Duncan Green » Blog Archive » ‘Just Give Money to the Poor: the Development Revolution from the Global South’, an excellent overview of cash transfers Says:

    […] has no doubts about their merits. But Joseph Hanlon, Armando Barrientos (see his blog on the book here) and Hulme are academics with a long track record on development, and their conclusion is not a […]

  2. Firman Says:

    thanks for this articles

  3. ROLLY Says:

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    Let us break this record in 2010!

    Be the voice for the millions of poor people living across India.

    ~ Aamir Khan stood up against poverty! ~

    ~ AR Rahman stood up against poverty! ~

    ~ Rahul Dravid stood up against poverty! ~

    ~ Rahul Bose stood up against poverty! ~

    ~ Kiran Bedi stood up against poverty! ~

    It is Time for You to STAND UP AGAINST POVERTY NOW!
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  4. Suleiman Haruna Says:

    It seems to me a great idea to distribute aid directly to very poor families; the snag, however is in the shocking numbers you get to be faced with especially in countries like Nigeria where i come from. 70% of our 150 million population are said to be poor. This is manifest in the number of beggars and street urchins eking out a living on major highways, exposed to grave dangers. The National Poverty Eradication Program, NAPEP seems to be more concerned with training for skill acquisition than with offering stipends to desperate families. I hope the handout option works so that Nigeria can learn from it. Suleiman Haruna, Public Information Officer and graduate student, Development Communications. Nigeria

  5. Families for Survival UK Says:

    Poverty is the biggest challenge in 21st century. The differences between LEDC and MEDC is massive. We can not overcome this problem overnight but its good to see so many people try for it.

    Please visit our website to learn about a new dimension of fighting poverty.

  6. Alex Says:

    Poverty and hunger indeed are the hardest problems to solve. Please join the discussion on the G-global platform.

  7. DianaDiana Says:

    Awesome Article! Thanks for the Article! I work for The Borgen Project and our main goals are to fight against poverty. We build support in Congress for initiatives that improve living conditions for people hit hardest by poverty and hunger. And it is definitely a struggle! Visit the site for more info.

  8. Melbar Masora Says:

    indeed poverty is one of the problems faced by most counties,in addition to unemployment and economic is however more intense in most developing countries especially in Africa.l believe the most contributing factor to poverty is a poor and unstable economy.this may be due to political,social or economic aspects.l really wonder how we can eradicate poverty because l believe it is high time we fight against it.

  9. Kulani Says:

    We have the policies and the resources we need to end poverty. What we need now is political will,it takes good policies, public and private sector will to take the initiative to engage in initiatives that will provide economic growth,stability and accelerated growth.

    • Darren 14057159 Says:

      I respect your optimism but I do not believe that we have the correct policies in place to end poverty, otherwise these plans would be reducing the amount of poor people in our country right now. At the moment more and more people move below the bread-line everyday. I do think that we have the resources to lessen poverty; but I believe it will take an incorruptible, unselfish government to truly eradicate poverty – which is not possible in the current political climate.

  10. Jenna Says:

    14021103…We all need to play our part if we wish to solve the poverty epidemic that is being experienced around the world. There are many great initiatives out there like NEDAP which are helping to fight poverty by bringing more foreign investors into Africa. Although organisations like NEPAD exist we also all need to play our own role in helping fight poverty. Any small contribution can make a difference.

  11. Nick Dutuma Says:

    It is a great initiative to provide such schemes and project to alleviate poverty. Looking at the intensity of poverty in most developing countries, the only sustainable way to fight it, will be through equipping people with education. Although it does not immediately fight poverty immediately,but in the long run, it has proven to gradually fight poverty. I believe it is the only way a child who is living under the poverty line can pull him/herself out of the this intangible enemy. Education does not guarantee a wealthy life but it guarantee a basic living and it broadens one’s intellectual mentality of resulting in a person opening new windows of opportunities. By education, I’m not only refering to the sitting in a classroom but also educational programmes and projects that can immediately provide much-needed knowledge to all disadvantaged people. The biggest challenge in most of these countries is that most people, physologically, people believe that one should work for someone after studies or one should look for a job. But rather people should pursue entrepreneurship and have a mindset of being an entrepreneur. Once we understand this, we can alleviate poverty within a short period of time. Above all, the time to fight poverty is now.

    • Nhlakanipho Cele Says:

      Absolutely agree with your point Nick. Your reasons and recommendations can really help alleviate poverty and giving an opportunity for growth to take place with a nation

  12. Erika Says:

    I can strongly debate against the granting system. Firstly, by just giving money and resources to the poor, what are we teaching them? That they do not need to work, since money and resources will still keep coming? Secondly, will it not discourage the middle class to work, and to join the group that receives monthly grants?
    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. A proverbial saying which suggests that the ability to work is of greater benefit than a one-off handout. (The Phrase finder, 2014)
    I personally think that firms teaching small or poor towns the ability to survive, manage and grow in their own circumstances have achieved a better outcome than those giving charity. Firms like Virgin Unite and M.I.T, for example, taught citizens how to grow vegetables in a community garden, or to create dolls to sell, or taught children methods to solve their community’s environmental problems. In that way, the community can become independent and will more likely have a faster growing economy.

  13. Renscke van Zyl Says:

    Poverty is an enormous problem in developing countries like South Africa. One of the primary reasons of poverty is the lack of job opportunities. It seems that the only real sustainable solution to this problem, is a combination of “social transfer programs” combined with a community effort to create skills and developing entrepreneurship. Thus creating the opportunity of not only giving the poor fish, but in fact teaching them how to fish, so that they can provide themselves with a long term solution.

  14. Joan Says:

    One of the biggest challenges that the world faces is poverty. Poverty can occur in every way. Distributing funds to the most needy is correct but if we could implement something that could eradicate poverty permanently yet improve the world’s well-being. Distributing funds is not going to help eradicate poverty in the long run but will only put a great financial strain on a country’s performance. This requires co-operation,cohesiveness and transparency from every sector of the world in order to eradicate poverty permanently worldwide.

  15. Jana Schutte Says:

    I am sure that the awareness of poverty in poor countries is globally recognized.
    There are also many ways to solve this national problem. From what I have read, I understand that more and more countries are using social transfer programs to marginalize the national problem.
    I understand why countries use the specific method but I doubt that the long term outcome will be successful. The challenges that the country will face with this method will be greater than the long term outcome. International population growth remains one of the the biggest social development problems world wide.

  16. Joan Says:

    One of the biggest challenges that the world faces is poverty. Poverty can occur in every way. Distributing funds to the most needy is correct but if we could implement something that could eradicate poverty permanently yet improve the world’s well-being. Distributing funds is not going to help eradicate poverty in the long run but will only put a great financial strain on a country’s performance. This requires co-operation,cohesiveness and transparency from every sector of the world in order to eradicate poverty permanently worldwide.

  17. Bhavik M Naran Says:

    Social transfer programmes are great, if implemented properly. We have seen how effectively it has worked in South Africa with the child grant program. Yes, the system is vulnerable to abuse but this abuse can be countered if it is effectively administered. However, the question remains on whether or not government can afford such schemes. If the scheme is run by increasing government debt, then future generations will bear the burden of an increasing national debt. The cycle of poverty will only be broken if these schemes help in the education of poor children.

  18. Zani Roelofse Says:

    Poverty is a giant problem worldwide, and especially in South Africa. The cause of this is mainly the high rate of unemployment with which South Africa is faced. After reading this article and the comments I have to be against the granting system. Giving people free resources and money will not be beneficial to solving poverty. It will decrease the will to get an education, a degree and to seek employment. The reason for this is that it lacks purpose if you can get free money and resources when you are in unemployment which leads to poverty. It will be more useful to give people living in poverty the opportunity to increase their skills and this will then lead to them being better qualified for a employment. And the end of poverty lies in getting people employed.

  19. Alex Says:

    14055334, the statistics is scary! But looking at poverty it can be handled like a sickness, you have to keep giving it medicine until it is going better, thats why people should start now and never stop giving and supporting!

  20. Partric Says:

    Alex, you state that poverty can be treated like sickness? But what if you use the wrong method to treat the sickness? Meaning what if giving poor people money is not the correct method? Then the sickness just keep on growing?. Or getting stronger that at the end there is no return?…. But good way of seeing poverty

  21. Morongwa Tshetlo Says:

    Poverty is not only an economic problem, it is also a social issue which several developing countries face. Distributing financial aid to poor households is a good system to eradicate poverty, however, more focus should be placed on education and uplifting the community to sustain itself. Eradicating poverty is a process which requires individuals to stand together to fight against it. The poverty situation cannot be changed overnight.

  22. Mokgadi Hlahla Says:

    poverty indeed is a global issue and needs to be addressed. well at least something is being done for now, and i must say it is not such a bad idea to offer incentives to the poor, but it is also not the best idea since poverty still exists even today whereas the system of providing feeding schemes and allocating funds to these people have been going on for for quite along time. despite that, poverty rate still keeps on increasing. this simply shows that a more effective system should be implemented that will help us eradicate poverty permanently.

    if we as the nation want to eradicate poverty for good, we should Begin by taking school serious since poverty is thought to be caused by unemployment and in most cases, unemployment is caused by lack of education. there is no one who can reduce poverty rate if it is not us- meaning the youth, and the best way to achieve that is by focusing on our studies. at least if you have a qualification, there is hope and fat chances of escaping poverty.

  23. Irvin Njerekai Says:

    I agree a hundred percent with the fact that redistributing income does not help solve the problem of poverty that is so wide spread across the world. Redistributing income is a short sighted solution to the problem, yes, but it creates a huge burden on the other people who have to fund these grants and social transfers. I think in essence, it solves the symptoms of poverty rather than tackle the root of the problem. Thus educating the poor communities is more beneficial to the communities themselves and will eradicate poverty in the long run. The other problem is that countries that are most affected by poverty, and that’s most African, Asian and South American countries are good at coming up with policies but fall behind when it comes to implementation because other factors like corruption and poor infrastructure trickle into the equation.

    I also have a question, is it realistically possible to totally wipe out poverty? Because the truth is resources are fewer than the world population.

  24. Amanda Says:

    Poverty is a great challenge that needs to be dealt with in order for an economy to develop. It is important to develop ways of ending poverty. Helping poor people to get their basic needs can help end poverty.

  25. mashianyane phaladi Says:

    poverty is a dispossession of basic human needs and crucial problem in most of developing countries.There are formed Organisations aiming to alleviate this pandemic; ASGISA, RDP etc. from my perspection social transfer programmes is leading to weak economy based on youth”teenager pregnancy” since they take advantage of such programmes to eradicate their poverty. it’s not of lack of job opportunity thus the population gets bigger day to day,which we find workplaces swamped with individuals. And unemployment increase spontaneously. what i would say is the poverty is actually caused by Socio- economic issues along with the politics in a country redirecting to South African economy or country.


    14416124………i personally have a problem providing aid directly to the poverty stricken household. Giving them money direct eliminates the fact that they need to work very hard. It promotes laziness in the economy and most people would not be seeking to work as they know that their basic needs will be catered for. This in-turn leads to a stagnant economy as the will to work and produce more is limited.
    Personally i think the government and aid givers should opt to offer subsidies to industries working in providing basic commodities such as food transport and education. This will push for people to work and this might help lower poverty. Another major contributor to poverty is corruption in developing communities. We should work towards eradicating corruption so that the state resources are used correctly to help better living standards of the community as a whole.

  27. MJ Says:

    It’s true that in the short term social transfer programs will be successful, but not in the long term. Poverty is a big problem worldwide and we need to find a solution. Creating job opportunities, economic growth and education will help minimize the risk of poverty. People with jobs will receive an income and education will create the necessary skills and develop entrepreneurs

  28. Alicia van Brakel Says:

    The biggest contributing factor to poverty is a lack of education which in effect limits people to a job. This is especially evident in countries like South-Africa and most African countries. Currently 25% of South-Africa’s workforce is unemployed. It’s the highest its ever been and it’s continually on the rise. By simply offering a social grant to a family will not end poverty. This can lead to families not actively seeking a job as money is simply handed to them. Social grants also puts a lot of stress onto a government as they have to provide money to a family who does not contribute to the country’s economic growth. I believe the only way we can positively end poverty is by teaching people basic skills, by uplifting them in the community, and giving them a proper education.

  29. Mokgadi Hlahla Says:

    poverty indeed is a global issue and needs to be addressed. well at least something is being done about this. it not such a bad idea to offer money and to the poor, but it is also not the best idea, since poverty still exist even today whereas the system of providing feeding schemes and allocating funds to the needy have been going on for a long time but if you look further, poverty rate keeps on increasing. this simply shows that a more effective system needs to be implemented that will be able to eradicate poverty permanently. there is no one who can reduce poverty rate or end poverty if not us, and the best or better way to achieve that is by focusing on our studies . at least if we have a qualification, there is hope and a fat chance of escaping from poverty.

  30. Sinqobile Says:

    Poverty is one of the greatest socio-economic problems in the world. I strongly disagree with the poverty fighting mechanism involving hand-outs to the poor. The hand-out mechanism creates a constant dependence on those providing the hand-outs meaning those who are given the hand-outs will be unable to create their own wealth. this will cause poverty to be at a controlled level but will never totally eradicate it. Controlled poverty will bring forth a decline economic growth because the poor will not be encouraged to create more job opportunities.
    In order to eradicate poverty we should rather groom young innovators in a training programme that will teach them to start manage and grow companies which will create job opportunities in the rural areas.

  31. Sandy Says:

    Poverty has been and still is a biggest constraint on African Countries. Distributing funds to the poor is a good thing to help ease poverty but if more programmes are implemented to help decrease unemployment and anchor more skills in the countries. Yes, governments try to help with free education and health services to help ease poverty.

  32. Sinqobile Says:

    Poverty is one of the fastest growing social and economic problems faced worldwide. Even though grant systems and other welfare programs try to manage poverty they do no eradicate it completely. One way the poverty can be eradicated is by creating a training program run by a team of business people who have lifted themselves from poverty to wealth along with leadership trainers. These people will train young people to lift the burden of poverty by starting businesses.

  33. Ayesha Says:

    Poverty is the main source of problem, in developing countries as we all developed. As Renscke van Zyl has said. one of the main causes of poverty is the lack of job opportunities. one way of eradicating this, is having the government, create more job opportunities for the public. from the article we can see that, everyone is aware of this problem and certain actions have been taken in certain countries, to reduce the amount of poverty, it may be baby steps, but it is definitely a start

  34. Andrew Says:

    I disagree with this so-called solution to poverty, providing social grants or transfers seems to be the easy way out for poverty stricken families, although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it will be temporary and leave the family worse off in the long run.
    Coming from a developing country myself, south africa, I can personally say that if people suddenly receive money for doing nothing, they’ll stop working and become completely reliant upon these grants and not contribute to society and negatively contribute to the economy.
    I think that the correct way to trying to stop the seemingly insurmountable challenge that is poverty, is not social transfers, but education. Providing development and education to poverty stricken areas will definitely be a long process and not an immediate fix, but be a somewhat solution to the problem of poverty.
    I know that the world could never be fully eradicated of poverty due to the ever growing numbers in population, but education could be the best chance at making a difference.

  35. Callon Locke Says:

    I believe poverty is one of the greatest, if not the greatest challenge facing the world. The distribution of funds through grants may statistically reduce the overwhelming wealth distribution gap between those stuck in poverty and the wealthy, but does it realistically improve their standards of living? The granting system may provide the poor with funds to possibly escape poverty and get-by from day to day, however the granting system can create a dependence only on grant money, and does not help the poor find employment to support themselves. The granting system also does not educate, or teach the poor valuable skills that can be used to improve their living standards or find a job. I believe that it simply delays the effect of poverty. I also believe that in order to eradicate poverty, more skill-development initiatives need to be implemented. This way the poor will be taught to support themselves and not only rely on grants.

  36. Setsoaki Matubatuba (14363471) Says:

    The scariest aspect of this article is that the children are the ones which are suffering the most and they are the future of a nation, what does that effectively say about the future of a nation?

    The nature of this suggestion to combat poverty makes me very unsure whether it will be successful or not. The biggest problem that the countries facing poverty have in common is the high level of corruption: corruption from rebels as well as from the government officials. It is easy for rebels to take food away from those which need it the most, what will stop them from taking money and resources just as easily? Government officials being greedy is one contributing factor to poverty, what reason would they have to stop doing what they are already doing?
    The first step to fighting poverty in my eyes is to try solve the economical, political and social issues which the countries face before the transfer process can begin.

    Although the transfer process may sound like a good idea at first, how long will it last for? Will this programme be sustainable? Who exactly will benefit from this process as I doubt the government will be able to aid all the citizens living in poverty due to the high numbers

  37. Nhlakanipho Cele Says:

    Ladies and gentlemen, poverty is a huge challenge in this world today and we must acknowledge that social transfer system has managed deflate the real impact of poverty especially in South Africa. Its a great tool to empower individuals in poverty to have purchasing power to buy essentials they need to survive. the system also stimulates the economy as spending increases and gives the person in poverty a greater role to play and to participate in the economy. It is a good way to alleviate poverty but it is a short-term solution so governments and major stakeholders must engage diligently in how to empower the poverty stricken communities through great investments in programs such as education to help communities develop skills and entrepreneurial abilities that will effectively create jobs, bring economic growth,engaging the poor in the economy, improve social systems and inevitably alleviate poverty.

  38. Janice Says:

    The debate regarding how o alleviate is a rather continuous although your argument has some merit I agree with one of the comments , cash injections o a household may work in the short run but it also may create a culture of dependence on government for survival.It may even reduce motivation for entrepreneurial ventures.Perhaps more job orientated investments are worthwhile.

  39. Thereso Kekana Says:

    As a South African , I have seen first hand the devastating effects of poverty on citizens. Poverty is a result of a poor education system which hinders people from obtaining employment which will lead to a better standard of living. One way government can reduce poverty is to equip their citizens with the skills needed to obtain employment. Poverty leads to more socio economic issues like crime which have an even larger effect on the economy. The eradication of poverty is not an easy task but if people take control of their destinies by becoming entrepreneurs, the can help government can things

  40. Callie Bofilatos Says:

    I believe poverty is one of the biggest challenges the world as a whole faces. Not only does poverty effect the South, but it too has a major effect on the North. Living in South Africa, we are faced with this problem on a daily basis and it is easily shown by the many beggars and high reports of crime.
    However, I do not fully agree with the granting system. Giving a family money on a regular basis will not help them out of their situation without adequate knowledge on the ‘big world’. It is easy for them to misuse their grant on unnecessary items, and this is why I believe in the saying, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for day, but if you give a man a fishing rod, he will eat for a lifetime.”
    Not only do the families need financial help, they also need guidance as to where and on what to spend their money.
    I believe this is a strong article, and although written four years ago, a little help goes a long way.

  41. Francois Says:

    Poverty is one of the biggest challenge a country can face and occurs in ever way. One of the reasons is that people don’t have the necessarily skills to do a job. It seems that the only real solution to this problem, is a community effort to create skills and developing entrepreneurship. By providing these people with the necessarily skills they will be able to do much more over the long-term and not just now. Another way to solve this problem is using social transfer programs. We can not overcome this problem overnight but maybe if the world work together in the long-term.

  42. Ulrica Gerber Says:


    Poverty is probably one of the biggest problems in South Africa. I think the main reasons for this is the fact that the people in poor neighbourhoods never got the chance to be fully educated because they couldn’t afford it. The other reason for poverty is because there aren’t a lot of job opportunities in South Africa.

    I think it is a good idea to transfer the money to the households in poverty. Although, these households who receive the money, might think they will just get everything they want. They need to realize that they need to do something in return for the money. Together we can all fight poverty.

  43. Cobus Fell Says:

    14011833… Poverty is a big problem not just in the South but it is an international problem. The international breadline is set at US$1 per day per person. There is stated that 1.5 billion people struggle under the breadline of US$1 per day. Of these 1.5 billion people the most that struggle is children. The problem with the children who struggle with poverty is that they are the future of our countries. When people retire the new workforce is the children of today. Unfortunately when children are living under the breadline they can’t afford basic food source and mostly go hungry to school and they will not perform at full capacity. One program of the 21st century that will help poverty is the Social Transfer Programs these programs give money to poor people to help them find opportunities to get out of there situation. With this program children have the opportunity to go to school fully functional with food in there system to concentrate and learn. But to put these problems in the past these programmers need funding. We as the people need to help these programmers to be funded as well as on international funding from the government is required. If this program works with other programs like NEPAD we can help to end poverty in the world.

  44. Kudzai Ntlailane Says:

    Reading this blog actually got me wondering about the new way of eradicating poverty. As much as I agree with you about getting the resources and money directly to the households, that alone will not alleviate poverty to a great degree. I am from South Africa and you mentioned how we have social grants implemented already. I have seen the effects of this on our country, and where it has made a genuine difference, it has also caused a lot of problems. It is prone to corruption and is thus flawed. One problem with social grants in South Africa would be where mothers deliberately fall pregnant to reap the benefits of such a grant. If anything it increases the problem and places a big economic burden on the country. I am not saying it won’t work, I feel it’s a way forward but not necessarily the best way. Economic growth as you pointed out should never be ruled out of the equation.

  45. Kudzai Ntlailane Says:

    Reading this blog actually got me wondering about the new way of eradicating poverty. As much as I agree with you about getting the resources and money directly to the households, that alone will not alleviate poverty to a great degree. I am from South Africa and you mentioned how we have social grants implemented already. I have seen the effects of this on our country, and where it has made a genuine difference, it has also caused a lot of problems. It is prone to corruption and is flawed. One problem with social grants in South Africa would be where mothers deliberately fall pregnant to reap the benefits of such a grant. If anything it increases the problem and places a big economic burden on the country. I am not saying it will not work, I do feel it is a way forward but not necessarily the best way. Economic growth as you pointed out should never be ruled out of the equation.

  46. mashianyane phaladi Says:

    poverty is a dispossession of human basic needs and a drastic issue affecting the entire developing countries.this poverty gap will gradually increase as social transferring programmes continues to take place. The giving out to poor mechanism doesn’t refine a country’s economy but shrink the productivity and ability of an economy to grow.This issue is impacted by lot of issues such as politics and socio-economic issues involving the country, we must realise that in every hour an infant is born which increase the population rate and a graduate is looking for an occupied job and someone is retrenched at the same moment.The only way to alleviate poverty is to work together and i would say communities should establish a food garden to distribute to households through selling in order to earn income. The unemployed youth should volunteer in orphanage shelter or home-based organisation where in the end they will receive a stipends. Societies should encourage Education and Training programmes to the youth.

  47. Lelani Brenkman Says:

    It is a good initiative from the social transfer programmes encouraging children to go to school.I believe that basic education paves the way for many job opportunies in example teaching.I believe that entrepreneurship programs can help these people to use their poverty conditions to find effective solutions.It would be like fighting poverty with poverty.

  48. Mariska Brenkman Says:

    Poverty, one of the words that is rather well known and a physical state that consists in most of the countries world wide.I understand that reaching out and giving money to the poor will help loosen the strain of poverty in the long run but I don’t think it’s the most efficient solution.I recommend international programs like buildOn.These programs are developed to help countries and areas in need of a proper eductaion system by building them schools and giving them the opportunity to learn and grow as an individual.Giving people the necessary abilities that they need will help them find jobs.Having more people with the acquired skills to work will reduce the unemployment rate and definitely reduce poverty.I say, rather take that money and get programs like that to invest in your country so that you have a solution that will resolve the problem for a longer period of time.

  49. juliana kayombo Says:

    I think that the programs are very helpful in reducing the income bridge between the rich and the poor .Most people have skills but employment opportunities are not sufficient to the available population .Most graduates in Africa especially have no jobs thus they continue being dependent on their parents.Furthermore,the fact that most African families are extended families and many people depend on one person worsens the situation.
    The programs should continue but more emphasis should be on transferring income in terms of grants so that the poor people and also unemployed youth can be able to start up small businesses without facing the need to acquire loans which will be impossible to pay in the long run.

  50. u14010268 Says:

    personally i feel that that first step to eradicate poverty is for the public and private sectors is to work as a team and target community by community with a common aim

  51. Steven Mick Goosen Says:

    Poverty is a global problem, and most if not all countries recognize this as a major economic problem. Although countries recognize poverty as a problem, I feel that most countries aren’t doing enough to prevent poverty from increasing and aren’t spending enough time trying to find a solution to decrease it. If more time is put into preventing or decreasing poverty, I’m sure that poverty will decrease rapidly. In my opinion the social transfer program is an ‘alright’ way to help the poor, but after giving it thought, i feel that there is a lot of markets who can use more employees. Thus i think job creation is a great way to start to the race ” for making poverty history”. There is a lot of great ideas out there , put them together and create something extraordinary,

  52. Meegan Reddy Says:

    Poverty is a really big issue all around the world and its great to hear that funds are being transferred directly to households so that they can use it for the things they really need to try and survive, its nice to know that there are countries and people out there that are willing to help the poor, but I do agree with some of the comments about the funds not being able to eradicate poverty in the long run because they would just keep expecting the funds to flow their way whenever it is needed, putting financial strain on the countries that are funding them. I think that some of the funding should also be used for education so that eventually they can support themselves and help the economy grow. Its more fulfilling to know that you’ve earned the money than just being handed money and I think they should be given that opportunity to feel that fulfilment.

  53. Ndeyapo Karipi Says:

    Many households and people in nations have been saved by social transfer programmes such those mentioned. Children are being provided with aid for nutrition and education, no one can argue that this makes for a better day. I agree, there is a need to address global porverty urgently and more aggressively, a need to redirect the finances from war to social,global welfare.

    social transfer programmes me be a method that addresses the problem a urgently, it is however just a quick fix. “give aman a fish and you will feed him for a day, teach amn to fish and you will feed him for a life time”maimonides. I say the more effecient way and long lastin way to address global poverty is address the cause. matters such as politics,employment and environment should be addressed.

  54. Neil van der Merwe Says:

    Poverty is one of the most common problems in the world and needs to be overcome to ensure that all people have the same living standard. In South Africa there is a lack of enough job opportunities and even though a lot of taxes go to social transfer programs there is no proof that these taxes help in reducing poverty. Poverty is not only a given in South Africa, but also in the rest of the world and there is things we should do such as improve education, start better social programs and remove corruption to reduce poverty.

  55. Taboka Kombanie Says:

    Indeed ending poverty is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. Dolling billions in social grants has its place; it is good for the ultra-poor, for example, child headed households or those households headed by old women.

    Ending poverty requires teaching people how to fish and not just giving them fish. Parceling out social grants is like giving people fish. They are always going to be looking and beholden to governments for these handouts. Governments instead must be working with the private sector to encourage economic development in the form of supporting the youths to set up micro businesses. These small businesses create employment opportunities first for relatives and then extend to others. Through financial inclusion, organisations such as Opportunity International, VisionFund International, ACCION and FINCA to mention just a few, have microfinance banks that promote micro-enterprise development by providing loans, savings and micro-insurance to micro-entrepreneurs.

    In the case of Sub-Saharan Africa, governments and the private sector must invest in agriculture. Households must be supported with new farming technologies and training to be resilient in the face of climate change. If households can produce their own food it will be the first step to end poverty.

  56. Amanda Mabuza Says:

    This is a very interesting article. Being from South Africa where poverty remains one of the most critical socio-economic problem, I’m very intrigued by this article. With no doubt, in South Africa, poverty has decreased significantly. The government does not only achieve this by means of a subsidy but by means of free health care, education and housing. This relieves a lot of households facing poverty. Personally, I strongly believe that one of the most effective reliefs to poverty is education. With that being said, it come with difficulty to defeat poverty now but an educated generation possesses the power to break the strick. Furthermore, national consumption distribution also contributes to the poverty rate in South Africa. A more equal distribution has the potential to decrease poverty . To conclude, South Africa’s poverty situation is improving and the possibility of defeating world poverty presents itself.

  57. Katlego Says:

    This is a well written article and I agree with it. Poverty is one of the most daunting challenges the world as a whole faces. Governments of different countries try their utmost best to alleviate poverty, and according to me, slowly but surely the poverty level is decreasing. I believe it is mainly because of social transfer payments, as the article also suggests. Although there might still be uneven distribution of wealth and income,social transfers do try and bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. I believe even small contributions such as foreign investment can/do help reduce poverty. Every effort to try and alleviate poverty counts.

  58. Christiaan Says:


    I strongly believe that the grant money is needed initially. I also know that the programme has to be monitored very closely. The reason I say the money must only be granted initially, is because I believe that after the first children are educated, the money must be spent solely on free education to all. The children are the key to curing poverty. If the countries in the world could disband their military sectors there would be world peace and billions to kickstart this programme. Education grows leaders, and leaders become entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs make money flow in the market, and money flowing means no poverty. Give the poor an opportunity to work and make a living for themselves.

  59. ZwelakheBhengu Says:

    I am in agreement with this articles on the basis of improving transfer payment procedures such as South Africa’s Mother and Child Grant Payment Scheme to help alleviate extreme poverty where people are living off less than $2 dollars per day.

    However, I am not necessarily in agreement with the crux of the blog which is claiming that a more global increase of countries in the participation of transfer payments in their respective economies will help alleviate poverty in the most effective way.

    Being from South Africa and having seen on a first hand account, the amount given to those in need is often enough to survive which is permissible, but often misused. Often people receiving say $10 dollars per month will tend to misuse it vs. people who worked hard to earn that $10.

    With that being said, I believe that the future for the alleviation of poverty in such destitute conditions is yes to improve the quantity of transfer payments, however, such transfer payments should not be physical money, but rather ready made aids such as tinned foods, baby milk, clothes etc. Which is not liquid and will tend to not be as misused as direct money transfer which tend to get misused and hence defeat the whole purpose of transfer payments.

  60. Dylan G Says:

    Really good to see that there are ideas to end poverty , would be nice to see them more active and more succesful beacause at the moment we have corrupt government officials who take advantage of these schemes in order to get themselves in power and abuse the poor by not delivering what is promised and this is why economies are not growing , and people wonder why and increase all sorts of other things t make money example taxes , but yet we are becoming less able to afford it as time goes on

  61. Dieter Says:

    Poverty is one of those things that will always be around. Poverty can be minimized but will never be completely defeated. Poverty is brought in to play when there is low infrastructure, high unemployment and low government implemented safety nets (Welfare).
    In South Africa we have one of the highest infrastructures in Africa but it is very low compared to other large economies. The level of unemployment is higher than most other countries in the world. The biggest issue we have though is the lack of government safety nets. We are faced with a government who is not doing what is required of them but instead is doing the minimal to maximize profits for the government. Now focusing on profit isn’t a bad ideas when those profits are used to build and develop the country but in RSA those profits are used for government wages.This is where our biggest problem and poverty creator is.
    Just by increasing government spending is not a factor in RSA rather we should focus on consumption increases. We should get the people to spend more to increase aggregate demand which will lead to more jobs and this can increase the standard of living. This is RSA best hope for fighting poverty.

  62. sibusiso 12205592 Says:

    I actualu think poverty is a state of mind and the best solution is to set up forums and introduce new systems in schools to help growing kids to change their current state of thinking in that way, poverty can be made history 🙂

  63. Tanatswanashe Bvunyenge Says:

    Poverty is definitely a world wide epidemic that has crippled many nations. The fact that not only Africa is experiencing this problem, the entire world has become more aware of the problem. The efforts being put in by governments are not going in vain however one government can only do so much with the social grants and not deviate and neglect the rest of the country’s problems. However eradication of poverty isn’t as simple as giving money to the poor. To successfully eradicate the problem the world needs to have substantial solutions to make sure the problems will be alleviated permanently.

  64. Chris Says:

    Transferring money and resources to house holds is a fantastic idea, however in practise there are many problems that occur as a result of this.For example South Africa’s Child Support Grant is encouraging mothers who cant even look after themselves to have as many children as possible in order to receive more grant money which is spent on themselves as well as the children. At the end of the day the money is not used effectively for its intended purpose ( mother is feeding family off money intended to get children through school ect) and we have an increasing number of people living in poverty. Governments around the world will need to put methods in place to allow people to pull themselves out of poverty. In life when a person gets something for free they will not progress. They will sit an accept charity and with time expect it. People need to earn money in order to understand its true value and to make it in this world nothing comes for free.

  65. Ignitious Phoku Says:

    In a world where a few people own a substantially large portion on the wealth of the total wealth , it is not surprising that there are people who live on a dollar a day or even less… maybe the problem cant be solved by throwing money at it… we need to rethink the way societies have been organised and re-engineer the mechanisms by which wealth is distributed in our societies and in the world as a whole… throwing money at the problem does not solve anything it only numbs the pain and that not cure the wound…

  66. Jackline Muhanika Says:

    I think eradicating poverty will take tackling its roots. I completely agree with most people who have commented that the solution is education. Lack of knowledge and skills is what causes most poor people to be helpless, unable to do much in the situation there in. Looking at man’s history, man had problems in getting food until he discovered fire, it was knowledge that gave an ultimate solution. That being said I believe that poverty can be alleviated through empowering someone with knowledge/skills and ability to think critically to solve their problems. Social grants can be helpful in the short run but it is just a mere postponement of the problem. There is a saying that “knowledge is power”, give man knowledge and he will have better control over his life.

  67. Mabuse Maila Says:

    Transferring money to households is a good idea; however, it does not eliminate poverty but just freezes poverty. i think poor countries should invest in education and training and help citizens to grow their own foods.

  68. Kumbirai Garikai Says:

    Poverty is widely discussed topic in the twenty first century as a large fraction of the world population is poor and usually ignored these structures put in place to help the poor are greatly encouraged however my main concern is are these methods beneficial or destructive amongst the poor families. to a larger extent it may be considered destructive as most families will be depending on the government alone to make provisions for their welfare instead of making a plan and effort to fend for themselves.

  69. Thapelo Moloisane Says:

    Poverty will remain the biggest socio-economic challenge in the world for as long our people keep on being ignorant. I agree with the points raised from the article but certain thing things need to be done first. We should try to tackle the root of the problem first not the problem directly and that means the reason why poverty it is what it is today looking at the fact that over a billion people strive to survive on or less than a dollar per day is that our people lack the necessary knowledge and skills to help themselves. Being sorely dependent on our governments to take us out of our current situation is an answer in the long term. Being from South Africa, I have witness those receive social transfers, wasting them on luxury goods. I suggest we give the transfers to necessary institutions that will help eradicate poverty and not give the monies directly to the poor, this will bring necessary growth in both our people and the world. One last thing will be that our governments create policies that shall build a strong financial infrastructure that will be utilized to its full capacity for its nation and those that shall eradicate corruption and fight inequalities our people are facing.

  70. Bianca Says:


    Yes,poverty is a big problem in both third world countries and first world countries. I personally think that instead of just transferring money and resources to the unwealthy, we should try and develop more work opportunities and help them earn their own money. we need to help them to get some types of skills, knowledge is power and power earns money. By earning money they would feel like they stand for something and that they are contributing towards something. This would also motivate the unwealthy to ensure that their children go out and strive to do better than them.

  71. P.A Kekae (141 696 32) Says:

    Indeed POVERTY is one of the biggest problem we facing in our country… I like the idea of providing such schemes and project to alleviate poverty, maybe it might reduce the high percentage of poverty in South Africa..I also agree with everyone who has said that the solution can also be education. Lack of knowledge and skills is what causes most poor people to be helpless..

  72. thapedi Says:

    I totally agree with most of this comments. Poverty is a social economic issue that contributes to many other social economic factors like crime. Looking at the South African government, government programs come and go as political parties swing us back and forth between stock answers whose only effect seems to be who gets elected. If anything, the problems get worse, and people feel increasingly helpless and frustrated or if the problems don’t affect them personally, often feel nothing much at all. What happened to ubuntu?
    I think a solution to ending poverty is encouraging the youth to become future entrepreneurs, although not all of us were born to be entrepreneurs, government must spend more money in improving the educational system.

  73. Andre De Oliveira Says:

    I strongly agree that poverty is one of the biggest problems faced in our world today especially in third world countries such as South Africa and other developing countries in Africa. However I disagree with “just giving money to the less fortunate” as they learn nothing by just receiving money hence the saying “easy come easy go”. Rather educate the people and children as they are the ones who are mostly affected and teach them how to budget the money they have been given because I feel that a lot of today’s poverty arises from the lack of “Budgeting know-how”. On the other hand I acknowledge these social transfer programmes as they are trying to solve one of the biggest issues that we face in the 21st century i just feel there is a more sophisticated way to deal with poverty rather than just handing out money.

  74. Adriaan Cilliers Says:

    Iam positive to see that people are trying to solve the poverty crisis. But in my opinion they are using the wrong approach by just giving away money. By doing this the people become dependant on the money and will never learn to produce money for themselves. Any person would rather recieve money for doing nothing than to work, it is better to give courses on starting your own business and how to make a success of the business which would help the people produce for themselves rather than just doing nothing and recieve money. The giving away money plan will only produce benefits in the shortrun and it will not last, plans must be made to help these people in the longrun.

  75. Rene' Ballot Says:

    Poverty is one of the biggest problems we face in the world but especially in South Africa, as we can see in the text. I agree that the Social transfer programs helps reduce poverty but it does not take it away forever. We have to work as one to remove the problem as a whole. We see that the poverty line was about 53 percent in 1995; the figure subsequently varied, reaching 58 percent in 2001 and declining to 48 percent in 2008. Women must work together to change the way the world see them, because most women are jobless and earn less than men even though differences in years of education have largely been narrowed. Even though the Social transfer programs try to help the people I think there is better ways of doing so that will last in the long term and be sustainable, like instead of just giving money to the poor and encouraging them for doing nothing you can learn them skills like to start a business and create more work opportunities, or learn them to farm and make there own food. There is so many things that the government can do instead of giving them just money for doing nothing.

  76. C Mangcu 14382212 Says:

    Poverty has been and will be a major problem but what was shouldn’t be. I believe that we can work on eradicating the issue. I am not quite sure about the plan to give poor households the money directly because it may the the head of the house’s fault they are living in poverty. This is of course only my opinion and I’d appreciate an input and some enlightenment on the case, I could be wrong. Andre De Oliveira soaks only the truth when he says “Rather educate the people” because in most cases they are, like I mentioned, impoverished because they were unable to ,in a sense, “handle” money which they received from social grants. If they knew how to use the funds in a way that will help them get out of the poverty they live in, they would most likely, not be in the situation. Again, this is but my opinion and regardless, this article is an asset to economics students worldwide, I thank you.


    Poverty is an enormous problem, it can be caused by unemployment and poor unstable economy. It is most intense in the most countries especially in the continent Africa. It can be defined as a lack of basic needs and it can be eradicated easily by providing financial aid to the needy, the financial aid to be provided should not only be the money the needy get from the community’s efforts but it can also be in a form of giving them education so that they can also be able to take care of themselves, teach them how to take care of money meaning how to use it and give them information about budgeting and saving in this way we can eradicate this poverty easily so. For poverty to end everyone have to contribute, schemes, projects, and everyone who is not part of those mentioned have to contribute. Poverty can never be eradicated in the short long but it can be eradicated in the long run with everyone putting their efforts in these. Showing each other light and supporting each other can put poverty to an end with no hesitation.

  78. Chandre Says:

    I disagree that the poor should just be given free money and resources as I feel that they should be given education first so that they can learn to provide for themselves because if people I always given things for free without working for it or earning it they will become lazy and not appreciate it.

  79. Budeli Maanda Says:

    Poverty is a major problem that needs the interference of both the public sector(Government) and the private sector. Poor people should be taught to use their skills/talents so that they can generate their own income. South Africa’s child support grant is making people to sit down and do nothing because they are getting free money, so i think if the government implements programs that will teach people about using their own skills to generate money this will help rather than giving them free money.

  80. Sipho Ramalamula Says:

    Each and every decade poverty is increasing at a high rate and world’s organisation , the UN , is trying to make the situation better better than the way it is now. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the critical observation and the conscience of the world. Being quiet and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.

  81. Hadzhi Tshisikhawe Masala Says:

    Social transfer programme is one of the many ways to eradicate poverty ,effective in a short run and ineffictive in a long run .People tends to seek for more money in a long run thus encouraging them to have more children in attempt to reduce opinion is that education and job creation is the most effective way for reducing proverty ,lets teach the poor how to earn money by giving them skills needed for such, this will also improve their way of spending money ,money earned from hardwork is cautiously spent that money earned for free .education is the key to success, why not try it ? and end proverty

  82. Sipho Ramalamula Says:

    Poverty has taken away our brothers and sister due to the lack of so many resources.. so this is the right time for countries to be united and fight against poverty through providing infrastructures , health care facilities, food and more things that can heal our world.. I truly believe that in the next 50 years , poverty will be reduced if only countries are united.

  83. Tekano Says:

    Poverty is a major crisis in the continent I reside in, namely Africa. I am of the opinion that certain measures need to be taken in order to minimize the effects of poverty. It is an unfortunate and unwelcome truth that poverty will forever exist in the world we live in. What we can all do to sweeten this bitter taste called poverty is help out where we can and implement structures in poverty ridden areas that will improve the situation. This involves communities/nations working together help those that cannot help themselves.

  84. Memory Sikanda Says:

    Poverty is an economic challenge combated wold wide. Numerous initiatives such as those mentioned above have been taken to eradicate this problem and I believe that more can be done towards this cause. Moreover, I believe that it is important to give assistance to those less privileged or poverty stricken. The resources and money given to the poor is to help them help themselves. I don’t think it is or has been in vain, because many have used this donations to start up small businesses as a source of income for themselves and their families. If we work together and play our part in this fight against poverty, it’s very possible to end this enemy.

  85. Guide Madembo Says:

    It is true that the initiative of social transfer to combat poverty in some countries will only has noticeable positive changes in the beginning .Funding projects to help people who are trapped in the poverty circle is rather a much more appealing option because it not only helps the disadvantaged people but the community as a whole.

  86. Bruce Thomson Says:

    I believe that education is the one real way to help reduce world poverty. The process will take long and be hard work but eventually i believe it will pay off.

  87. Happiness Samuel Says:

    Eradicating poverty is not easy. i say this because of corruption that has dominated in our developing countries and has contributed to poverty. People want easy money and who would not forge their documents just so to get free money. From Armando Barrientos’s statement on Social transfer programmes being carefully select and monitor recipients, i do not believe that the government in south Africa is doing a good job on this.

    The South Africa’s Child Support Grant is meant to support those who are needy but you will find that due to people having connection with people in power, people undeserving of these funds are benefiting from them. Some people are just greedy and its hard for them to be loyal.

    The lack of transparency from our government is the reason why people will have questions as to where is the nations money going to because they see no improvement in their environment. When all of a sudden a president builds a R246m home, while there is a thousand of people living in a country without a roof over their head.

    I believe that there is a solution to every problem but poverty is one big a war that needs high strategies on alleviating it.

  88.  Just Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South - Global Development Institute Blog Says:

    […] following blog post by Armando Barrientos in 2010 summarises the key […]

  89. Just Give Money to the Poor: the Development Revolution from the Global South, an excellent overview of cash transfers - From Poverty to Power Says:

    […] has no doubts about their merits. But Joseph Hanlon, Armando Barrientos (see his blog on the book here) and Hulme are academics with a long track record on development, and their conclusion is not a […]

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