More than half the world lives on less than $2 a day.

It's a startling truth that can sometimes make us feel helpless. Yet poverty can and must be fought. I recently asked our very own Dr Dennis Labayen, Field Operations Director, if he could identify 5 effective ways to fight poverty. Dennis has been working since 1973 to create a sustainable and permanent solution to poverty in many poor communities around the world. After years of research and implementation Dennis and his team have fine-tuned a process called 'Participatory Human Development'. The process is so effective that other NGO's are also being trained in these techniques and are adopting similar practices.

Here are his 5 ways to fight poverty.

1.    The people directly affected by the problems or issues of poverty in the community have to be actively and authentically participating in the efforts to fight poverty.  This means that the affected people themselves will be the major participants of the intervention to fight poverty.  Not only the formal  leaders need to be consulted, but also the affected themselves. Their worldview and situation should be taken into consideration and through facilitation they become part of the process of addressing and resolving their problems.

2.    Create an organised group within the community to help many people rather than working with a few individuals. Rather than working with individual persons it is more effective to facilitate collective and organized actions to help strengthen and empower people in poverty through an organization.  This means that it is not enough to provide assistance to individually affected persons alone but through a collective organization each individual is developed and steps are taken to address their problems and other problems in the future.

3.  The people affected need to identify the issues. It is more effective when issues and problems are identified by the people. They then begin to gain self-confidence and acquire capabilities in working together on simple issues and problems.   This means that their initial efforts and experience can be used towards addressing more complex problems and issues. It is in identifying and acting on their initial simple issues or problems that the affected people gain their self-confidence and capability to identify other issues or problems which need to be addressed. Though externally, well thought introduced projects can help fight poverty, without the people’s active involvement and linking these projects with their own situation, identified issues and problems, such projects will most likely not be sustained.

4.   People in poverty need to understand that they can often address and solve their own issues. The affected people going through the process of fighting poverty should have a raised level of consciousness about their situation and their capabilities in order to sustain their collective efforts and also to address other issues and problems.

5.   Fighting poverty takes time. The process of fighting poverty is not a simple and short–termed process, especially if we want a deep transformation to take place to those affected.  It takes time to enable and facilitate the affected people so they can break the “culture of silence” and become actors of their own development.

Many thanks to Dennis for sharing these thoughts.

We'd love to hear your comments and thoughts on his suggestions, or you may even have some of your own to add.

5 Ways to Fight Poverty by Dennis Labayen - Director of Field Operations - Outreach International