Poverty Reduction through Small Enterprises

Read at <poverty@developmentgateway.org>
This week’s Poverty page highlights a paper by Paul Vandenberg and published by the International Labor Organization (ILO). This paper examines the connections between the work of the ILO’s Small Enterprise Development Programme (SEED) on developing the small enterprise economy and the task of poverty reduction.

There is increasing recognition that private sector development has an important role to play in poverty reduction. The private sector, including small enterprises, creates and sustains the jobs necessary for poor people to work and earn the income needed to purchase goods and services. Two years ago, the ILO’s Small Enterprise Development Programme (SEED) initiated a process of internal discussion and review, assisted by outside experts, on the important issue of poverty reduction. This paper is a product of that process.

The paper also outlines the international initiatives of the past half-decade which have raised the profile of poverty as the prime issue of economic development and social justice. The increasing importance given to how private sector development can support poverty reduction is also discussed.

In addition, the paper highlights the difficulties of assessing the impact of enterprise development not just on the enterprises themselves, but on poor workers, entrepreneurs and their families. It is an issue into which the ILO and the international community need to channel more energy. In the fifth chapter, the paper outlines a strategy that SEED might adopt ? after further consultation and revision ? to focus its programme on poverty.

We invite you to submit your resources and express your opinion on this subject.

[Adapted from Abstract]

Read this highlight visiting:

Rural Development Project in Morocco

 Read at <dgAlert@developmentgateway.org>

Rural Development Project in the Eastern Middle Atlas Mountains

“This project seeks to improve the living conditions of rural populations in one of Morocco’s poorest regions. Small-scale farmers, women, unemployed young people and landless labourers are among the project participants. A number of different development activities are being pursued: improved natural resource management, rational water use, improved farming techniques, soil and water conservation, rehabilitation of rural tracks, access to rural financial services, promotion of microenterprise, and any other activity identified by the population. All formulation of development plans, programming and implementation of activities will be carried out by the beneficiaries in collaboration with the project team, to ensure that their immediate needs are assigned priority. Over time, the poor people living in this region will become active participants in the community-based management of a development process geared towards growth and diversification of their incomes.”

Microfinance and poverty alleviation (dgAlert)

 Seen at <dgAlert@developmentgateway.org>


What can increase the effectiveness of microfinance as a poverty alleviation tool?

Using Latin America as a case study, the paper critically examines the sustainability of micro credit, and the role that government actors have in this sector. The authors underline that government agencies are influential in shaping the operational environment of micro finance institutions (MFIs), as well as developing and supporting linkages between microfinance and other financial flows. Authors: Tulchin, D; Grossman, J. (ed.) / Social Enterprise Associates , 2006

Achieving Food Security in Africa (dgAlert)

Today at <dgAlert@developmentgateway.org>

Achieving Food Security in Africa: Challenges and Issues

Achieving food security in its totality continues to be a challenge not only for the developing nations, but also for the developed world. The difference lies in the magnitude of the problem in terms of its severity and proportion of the population affected. In developed nations the problem is alleviated by providing targeted food security interventions, including food aid in the form of direct food relief, food stamps, or indirectly through subsidized food production. These efforts have significantly reduced food insecurity in these regions. Similar approaches are employed in developing countries but with less success. The discrepancy in the results may be due to insufficient resource base, shorter duration of intervention, or different systems most of which are inherently heterogeneous among other factors. Food security; a situation in which all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active healthy life1; is affected by a complexity of factors. These include unstable social and political environments that preclude sustainable economic growth, war and civil strive, macroeconomic imbalances in trade, natural resource constraints, poor human resource base, gender inequality, inadequate education, poor health, natural disasters, such as floods and locust infestation, and the absence of good governance. All these factors contribute to either insufficient national food availability or insufficient access to food by households and individuals. The root cause of food insecurity in developing countries is the inability of people to gain access to food due to poverty”.


One of the factors influencing food security in the drylands is erratic rainfall (drought).

Suppose we can solve this problem by applying a very simple method : soil conditioning with the water stocking and fertilising TerraCottem mixture. What can we expect ?

1. Less or even no dependence of agriculture and horticulture on weather conditions.

2. Gradually improving soil quality.

3. Gradually improving plant production with a minimum of irrigation water.

4. Protection of the aquifers.

5. Growing quantity of drinking water in the wells.

Maybe you don’t believe me ? OK, but why don’t you set up a serious test with TerraCottem yourself ? Cost-effectiveness ? You will be amazed by the return on investment !

Is this only a matter for NGOs ? Or for International Aid Organizations ? Or for National Governments ? Forget it ! It’s the concern of all of us, you and me ! So, let’s do something about it instead of just talking, talking, talking …

2001 Sanaura India
2001 : Sanaura (Himachal Pradesh, India), a RUCHI Foundation-project with the assistance of TC-DIALOGUE Foundation (Belgium) : tomato production on mountain slope terraces treated with TerraCottem.  See how happy local farmers are ?

2001 : Sanaura (Himachal Pradesh, India), un projet de la Fondation RUCHI (Inde) avec l’assistence de la Fondation TC-DIALOGUE (Belgique) : culture de tomates sur des terraces de flancs de montagne, traitées au TerraCottem.  Vous voyez le bonheur des agriculteurs locaux ?

Business and the Global Poor (dgAlert)

Read at <dgAlert@developmentgateway.org>


Business and the Global Poor

“Are the world’s poor, who individually have less than $5 a day in disposable income, a viable market for new goods and services? Consider the fact that there are four billion people around the globe that fit this description and you have the start of an answer. But businesses that want to enter this market at the bottom of the economic pyramid (BOP) must look beyond just selling products—they must find ways to create social and economic value, according to the editors of a new volume, Business Solutions for the Global Poor. Author(s): Silverthorne, S. (2007) Research & Ideas, Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge, February 5, 2007.


Instead of even thinking of creating “a viable market for new goods and services”, shouldn’t we first take care of the malnutrition of those 4 billion people around the world ?

Instead of creating markets between the developed world and the developing one, let us first fill the food markets in the drylands, not with left overs from our wealth, but with locally produced fresh crops.

That’s real investment in sustainable development : don’t give them mobile phone technology yet, give them first all technologies needed to stop desertification, to improve food production and reforestation, and to alleviate their poverty.

No one of us ever performed well with an empty stomach, not to mention with an anemic body (lack of minerals) or an infected one (e.g. because of avitaminosis).

Burkina 200-07
2000-07 : Members of the Dutch Committee Maastricht-Niou and the Belgian TC-DIALOGUE Foundation visiting their “Community Garden” project in Niou (Kourweogo Province, Burkina Faso). Here walking through an untreated sorghum field (height 50-60 cm).  TerraCottem-treated field in the background.

2000-07 : Membres du Comité Maastricht-Niou (Pays-Bas) et de la Fondation TC-DIALOGUE (Belgique) visitant leur projet de “Jardin Communautaire” à Niou (Province du Kourweogo, Burkina Faso). Ils traversent un champ de sorgho non-traité (hauteur 50-60 cm).  Champ traité au TerraCottem à l’arrière-plan.

2000-07 Niou
2000-07 : Community garden of the local women, treated with TerraCottem,  seeded with sorghum for the rainy season (height 230-250 cm).

2000-07 : Jardin communaitaire des femmes locales, traité au TerraCottem,  ensemencé avec du sorgho pour la saison des pluies (hauteur 230-250 cm).

Child poverty reduction (dgAlert)

Today at <dgAlert@developmentgateway.org>


What Works Best in Reducing Child Poverty: A Benefit or Work Strategy?

“Child poverty is firmly on the policy agenda in many OECD countries. One of the main issues in the debate is the appropriate balance between the so-called “benefits strategy” (increasing the adequacy of benefits for low-income families with children) and the so-called “work strategy” (promoting policies to increase employment among poor families). The need to choose between these two apparent alternatives is sometimes seen as a consequence of an unavoidable trade-off between adequacy of benefits, work incentives and the costs of assistance.” Author(s): Whiteford, P.; Adema, W. (2007) DIRECTORATE FOR EMPLOYMENT, LABOUR AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS, EMPLOYMENT, LABOUR AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, OECD, Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers No.51.”


I wonder what the impact of universally applied school gardening on child poverty would be. As poverty and desertification are intimately linked, I predict a positive effect through capacity building of the next generations. A hint for development of a “new” strategy ?  My suggestion for our UNICEF project in the refugee camps in Algeria : let’s start school gardening in all schools, be it only to provide fresh food to the kids at lunch time.  All additional positive effects are more than welcome.


Nice comment Hans STROCK (Great Big Plants)

I received this nice comment from Hans STROCK:



Thanks Willem! I’m glad you had a chance to check out the site! Sorry about the delay in response, things have been hectic lately. It’s good to see other people who agree with keeping kids involved with gardening. It’s always important to give children some culture and experience they can take with them when they get older. I think all children should have something fun and creative they can do. It helps them feel good about themselves. Keep up the good work!”

Well said, Hans ! In the western countries, so many people are complaining about the fact that young people are only interested in TV-programs. Why don’t we offer them a chance to do something useful and fun, instead of leaving them hanging (or laying) around in front of the TV-set? Impossible to change their attitude ? Yes, if you start early enough (e.g. with pubers). And what if you start even earlier, let’s say in primary school? I am sure kids love to do practical gardening in a very simple way. As a biology teacher I always got fantastic reactions when my pupils (12-18 years old) got an individual project to grow different plant species from seeds. They did it in plastic bottles at the window sills in my classroom ! They learned how to grow things with a strict minimum of water ! And they loved to write their personal report with observations and drawings. That is: EDUCATION WITH A PRACTICAL SENSE.
I am currently working out a similar project for the kids in the refugee camps in Algeria. Those children will most certainly be happy to have a “useful task” to grow vegetables in plastic bottles. There is not only the educational aspect of learning something about gardening, but one can also imagine how proud the kids will be to bring from time to time some vegetable (lettuce, parsley, onion, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, etc.) home. An later on they can always use these new skills (capacity building) to start gardening for their families. Wherever they are or will be!

I would like to suggest also the possibility of growing young fruit trees in plastic bottles at school. At the end of each school year, the children could then take “their tree(s)” home and plant them there. It would be a remarkable contribution to public health (vitamins through fruits), but also to reforestation in hostile environments like the Sahara desert in Algeria or, more generally, in all the drylands.

I really believe in a successful contribution to the combat of desertification and the alleviation of poverty when kids would do some gardening, be it in plastic bottles or even plastic bags, at school. Anyway, it can help to get rid of all those millions (billions ?) plastic containers (bags and bottles) dwelling around in the developing world (care for ecology and environment). A nice way to recycle those things, isn’t it ?

Any comments ? You are welcome.

Water management: more crop per drop

Read today at<dgAlert@developmentgateway.org>


Basin Water Management: Understanding Water Productivity

This research theme seeks to provide a better understanding of the tradeoffs and options in agricultural water management at the basin scale and contribute to improved equity and productivity in water use through the development of appropriate tools and methodologies for analysis and management. Key Research Areas Sustainable water use in agriculture: To develop, test and apply analytical frameworks, water accounting methodologies and supporting tools to quantify and manage water resources for agriculture at a basin scale and to assist managers apply them in selected basins. Understanding water productivity at basin scale: To understand the impacts of field, farm and system level improvements in land and water productivity at the basin scale and to provide methods and tools for planners to develop appropriate policies and supporting strategies to increase net basin level water productivity. Institutions, policies and economic instruments for better water management at a basin scale : To analyze, contextualize, evaluate and recommend appropriate institutional arrangements to manage water resources for agriculture at the basin scale, over a range of contrasting conditions, and with special emphasis on the balance between sustainable and productive use of water. Historically, water management for agriculture was equated with the development and operation of water systems and structures, largely for irrigation. However, the rapid growth of urban centers and industry has led to increasing competition for water across sectors. Thus, the key challenge now for agricultural water management is achieving “more crop per drop” ─ an approach that marked a paradigm shift in IWMI’s thinking on how to increase food production for a growing population while simultaneously meeting the water quality and quantity requirements of other economic and environmental sectors.

Freshwater conservation

An interesting announcement at <dgAlert@developmentgateway.org>:


An Economic Analysis of the Livelihood Impacts of Freshwater Conservation Initiatives

Freshwater ecosystems play an important role in all our lives. They are the mechanism whereby water is gathered and delivered for human use. They provide important services that are conservatively valued at hundreds of billions of dollars. In the developing world particularly, proper functioning of freshwater ecosystems have a proportionately greater impact on the livelihoods, health and security of the poor. MDG number 7 particularly aims to ensure environmental sustainability, including to “reduce by half the proportion of people living without sustainable access to safe drinking water”. However, the recently published Millennium Ecosystem Assessment concluded that the degradation of ecosystem services is a significant barrier to achieving the MDGs, and this impediment could grow significantly over the next 50 years. The harmful effects of ecosystem service degradation will continue to be borne disproportionately by the poor, and they are often the principal drivers of poverty and social conflict. The links between ecosystem services and poverty are strong. It is therefore essential to recognize and maximise the potential linkages between freshwater ecosystem conservation and poverty reduction. With this imperative in mind, WWF and its partner organizations are developing and implementing conservation projects with clear ecological goals and ambitious aims for improvements in livelihoods. The cases presented in this report illustrate how these links can be made successfully.

Green revolution in Africa

Read today at <dgAlert@developmentgateway.org>

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

September 8, 2006;
press release

Bill & Melinda Gates, Rockefeller Foundations Form Alliance to Help Spur “Green Revolution” in Africa

Major Effort to Move Millions of People out of Poverty and Hunger Begins with a $150 Million Investment to Improve Africa’s Seed Systems

SEATTLE, NEW YORK – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation announced today that they will form an alliance to contribute to a “Green Revolution” in Africa that will dramatically increase the productivity of small farms, moving tens of millions of people out of extreme poverty and significantly reducing hunger.

“The original Green Revolution was a huge success in many parts of the world,” said Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. “Unfortunately, in Africa, while there are many positive efforts, momentum is going the other way. Over the past 15 years, the number of Africans living on less than a dollar a day has increased by 50 percent. Working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and with African leaders, farmers and scientists, we’re committed to launching an African Green Revolution that will help tens of millions of people who are living on the brink of starvation in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Over the long term, the partnership, called Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), intends to improve agricultural development in Africa by addressing both farming and relevant economic issues, including soil fertility and irrigation, farmer management practices, and farmer access to markets and financing. Almost three-quarters of Africa’s land area is being farmed without improved inputs such as fertilizer and advanced seeds.

“No major region around the world has been able to make sustained economic gains without first making significant improvements in agricultural productivity,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation. “In Africa today, the great majority of poor people, many of them women with young children, depend on agriculture for food and income and remain impoverished and even go hungry. Yet, Melinda and I also have seen reason for hope – African plant scientists developing higher-yielding crops, African entrepreneurs starting seed companies to reach small farmers, and agrodealers reaching more and more small farmers with improved farm inputs and farm management practices. These strategies have the potential to transform the lives and health of millions of families. Working together with African leaders and the Rockefeller Foundation, we are embarking on a long-term effort focused on agricultural productivity, which will build on and extend this important work.”

Continue reading “Green revolution in Africa”

Agriculture for development (World Bank)


World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development

World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development

The theme of the World Bank’s World Development Report (WDR) 2008 is Agriculture for Development. A reconsideration of agriculture’s role in development has been long overdue. Developing country agriculture is caught up in the far-reaching changes brought by globalization, the advent of highly sophisticated and integrated supply chains, innovation in information technology and biosciences, and broad institutional changes—especially in the role of the state and in modes of governance and organization.
Contributed by Carmen V. Caballero on 06 Mar , 2007

Full text

Growth in agriculture makes a disproportionately positive contribution to reducing poverty. More than half of the population in developing countries lives in rural areas, where poverty is most extreme. By illuminating the links between agriculture, economic growth, and poverty reduction, this report offers a timely and nuanced assessment of how and where agriculture can best foster development.
François Bourguignon, Sr. Vice President, Chief Economist, The World Bank

For some countries, these changes have heralded renewed opportunities and benefits for agriculture. For other countries, the consequences have been quite different and food insecurity and poverty remain pervasive. Yet nearly every nation continues to face difficult decisions with respect to agriculture. Although agriculture is a private sector activity, it is uniquely dependent on good governance, wise public investments, and carefully focused public policy. An important question examined in this report is how to determine when public policy should concentrate on capturing the new growth opportunities available to agriculture and when it should concentrate on capturing opportunities in other sectors of the economy to help people exit agriculture. This report seeks to assess where, when, and how agriculture can be an effective instrument for economic development, especially development that favors the poor. It is likely to focus on strategies for:

* Unlocking agricultural growth to reduce poverty
* Seizing new opportunities for agricultural growth
* Enhancing the pro-poor character of agricultural growth
* Facilitating favorable exits from agriculture
* Achieving environmentally sustainable agricultural growth


I underscored the following sentences:

* Growth in agriculture makes a disproportionately positive contribution to reducing poverty.

* Yet nearly every nation continues to face difficult decisions with respect to agriculture.

* It is likely to focus on strategies for:

* Unlocking agricultural growth to reduce poverty
* Seizing new opportunities for agricultural growth
* Enhancing the pro-poor character of agricultural growth
* Facilitating favorable exits from agriculture
* Achieving environmentally sustainable agricultural growth.

Let us welcome this World Bank report very heartedly and hope it will strongly convince the developed and developing worlds to invest more in agriculture in the drylands and seize every opportunity for agricultural growth. No need to say that I am thinking in particular at investing in cost-effective technologies for soil conditioning, efficient use of irrigation water and fertilizers. Success stories in these fields can easily be applied at very large scale to alleviate poverty in the shortest time. For a positive look at such possibilities, please check former postings on this blog.


Pauvreté, environnement et PNUD/PNUE

Découvert au site du PNUE (http://www.unep.org) :

Un nouveau centre PNUD/PNUE concrétise le lien entre la réduction de la pauvreté et la protection de l’environnement

Nairobi, 6 février 2007 –Le Programme des Nations Unies pour le développement (PNUD) et le Programme des Nations Unies pour l’Environnement (PNUE) ont cimenté le lien entre la lutte contre la pauvreté et la protection de l’environnement en lançant conjointement le Centre pour la pauvreté et l’environnement aujourd’hui à Nairobi, au cours de la 24e session du Conseil d’administration du PNUE.

Cet organe, qui représente l’un des premiers exemples concrets de la réforme en action de l’ONU, est destiné à aider les pays en développement à intégrer une gestion saine de l’environnement dans leurs politiques de croissance et de réduction de la pauvreté. Il jouera un rôle central dans l’accroissement des interventions environnementales de l’ONU dans le monde entier, en se concentrant surtout sur l’Afrique et l’Asie.

« L’éradication de la pauvreté et de la faim et la protection de l’environnement sont inséparables, a déclaré à Nairobi Kemal Derviş, Administrateur du PNUD. C’est pourquoi l’environnement doit concerner toute la famille onusienne. »

« Par ce communiqué, nous lançons aussi un message clair et sans équivoque, qui souligne la volonté de travailler ensemble du PNUD et du PNUE, non seulement dans l’esprit de la réforme de l’ONU mais aussi de façon concrète et orientée vers l’action, afin de soutenir nos Etats membres », a expliqué Achim Steiner, Directeur général du PNUE

Le renforcement des relations entre les deux instances de l’ONU va trouver une application pratique pour un large éventail de problèmes. Dans quelques mois, par exemple, cinq nations d’Afrique subsaharienne prendront mieux le contrôle de leur avenir écologique sous l’égide du Partenariat PNUD-PNUE sur le climat, grâce à un nouveau projet conjoint destiné à aider les pays plus pauvres à naviguer le mécanisme pour un développement propre du Protocole de Kyoto (MDP). Il s’agit d’une procédure reposant sur les mécanismes du marché qui permet aux nations plus industrialisées de gagner des crédits d’émission en finançant des projets qui contribuent à la réduction des gaz à effet de serre dans les pays en développement.

Le nouveau projet, qui a l’appui des gouvernements espagnol et suédois, devrait démarrer au Kenya, au Mozambique, en Tanzanie, en Zambie et dans un cinquième pays africain qui sera choisi dans les prochains mois. Il opérera d’abord à petite échelle mais il a le potentiel de s’étendre à d’autres pays et régions.

La nécessité d’une plus grande coopération dans le domaine du changement climatique apparaît plus clairement à la lumière de l’évaluation du Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat (GIEC), selon lequel les changements dans l’atmosphère, les océans, les glaciers et la calotte glaciaire attestent sans équivoque du réchauffement de la planète, selon le PNUD et le PNUE.

« Le rapport du GIEC, publié vendredi, dresse un sombre tableau scientifique de la réalité du changement climatique. Les choses ne vont pas s’améliorer. Il ne s’agit pas seulement de protéger l’avenir de nos enfants, parce que pour les pauvres – qui sont le plus exposés aux éléments et dépendent le plus directement de la nature –l’avenir est déjà là », a commenté M. Derviş.

« Si nous n’œuvrons pas ensemble pour aider les pays en développement à protéger leur environnement et à s’adapter au changement climatique, nous les laisserons couler. Littéralement ! » a-t-il averti.

« Le MDP pourrait générer des milliards de dollars d’investissement dans des technologies propres et vertes, a ajouté M. Steiner. A l’heure actuelle, la part du lion de tels investissements revient aux pays à développement rapide. Il est vital pour les autres pays en développement d’en recevoir une part équitable, ce qui est l’objectif premier de cette nouvelle initiative. »

Le partenariat sur le climat et le nouveau Centre pour la pauvreté et l’environnement sont complémentaires et sont chapeautées par une coopération renforcée entre le PNUD et le PNUE. Le Centre pour la pauvreté et l’environnement s’occupera d’améliorer la gestion de l’environnement et d’attirer des investissements dans ce domaine, alors que le Partenariat sur le climat s’efforcera de mieux équiper les pays en développement pour relever les défis que pose le changement climatique.


Renseignements pour les médias : PNUD : Ben Craft, New York, +1 212 906 5344 , benjamin.craft@undp.org; PNUE : Nick Nuttall, Nairobi, +254 733 632 755, nick.nuttall@unep.org


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