EU-funded researchers around the world are collecting new information on poverty from 21 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, gaining fresh insights and making recommendations governments can apply to improve lives.
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Great strides have been made in reducing poverty around the world. Still, 1.2 billion people remain in extreme poverty. Millions more live on poverty’s edges, vulnerable to economic shocks. Other factors, such as globalisation and rising economic and political inequality, have also created new challenges.
Researchers from the EU-funded NOPOOR project are taking a fresh look at poverty’s multi-dimensional nature in today’s world, and the reasons for its persistence. They are collecting additional statistical evidence on poverty from Africa, Asia and Latin America, leading to new insights. By the end of the project in March 2017, they aim to provide recommendations governments and aid organisations can apply to improve living conditions for the extreme poor across the world.
“Poverty remains a major problem in many countries and additional research is needed to better understand its causes, the new forms it takes today and how it resists current poverty reduction policies,” explains project coordinator Xavier Oudin of France’s Institut de recherche pour le développement. “Our ambition is to raise the awareness of policymakers and other stakeholders of the issues that our research is documenting.”
So far the researchers have:
assessed current methods to measure poverty and developed new indicators to fill existing gaps – such as on the quality of employment, which sheds light on the number of ‘working poor’;
created online databases collecting existing statistics and those developed by the project – a one-stop reference for researchers and policymakers worldwide;
compiled information on elections to pinpoint whether they have been ‘free and fair’ – providing a quantitative approach to governance issues, such as the accountability of leaders, which is known to be a determinant of the efficiency of poverty reduction policies;
studied the effects of globalisation, with preliminary results indicating that export processing zones, although creating jobs through foreign direct investments, may have adverse economic effects – the researchers have recommended that trade liberalisation should be balanced by offsetting industrial, labour and social policies;
examined the effects of industrial strategies – for example, a study looks at how some developing countries are adapting Germany’s use of vocational training programmes to create pools of specialised workers.
NOPOOR’s research will feed into local case studies on topics such as education and cash transfer policies. These will guide the project’s more general conclusions and policy recommendations. “At the moment we tend to think that there is not one policy that fits all,” says Oudin.
Collaboration to fight poverty
NOPOOR brings together some 100 researchers from Europe and developing countries: Peru, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Vietnam, India, Senegal, Ghana, South Africa and Madagascar. This collaboration with local researchers is essential to filling current information gaps on the factors affecting poverty levels, says Oudin.
“In several countries, it is very difficult to find figures covering a reasonable timespan, without which assessments of the evolution of people’s economic conditions are not possible,” he explains.
International participation will also help disseminate the project’s findings and recommendations to a wide audience. For example, the project has been organising meetings between NOPOOR’s researchers, local politicians and other stakeholders. The meetings resulted in valuable input on the priorities for poverty research and on how NOPOOR’s results could be helpful for policymaking.
At the end of the project, several conferences and workshops will be dedicated to the dissemination of results to local policymakers.
“This way the research will be disseminated directly to the people who need it,” says Oudin.
Check also the publication "Investing in European success - EU-Africa cooperation in science, technology and innovation"