Amidst the daily fight against global poverty levels, success stories arise from one of the world’s largest development charities. Recently awarded the World Food Prize for successfully pulling more than 150 million people in developing countries out of poor living conditions, Fazel Hasan Abed, founder of the Bangladeshi charity BRAC, seems to have stumbled upon a working methodology.
What makes this methodology different from other approaches can be found in the difference between chauvinism and charity. Chauvinistic approaches to world aid portray a very “hands-off” tactic, whereas charity clearly sets out to give direct help to those in need.
Many IGOs are now looking to out-source the BRAC method. This method utilizes a short amount of time, 24 months, and a high amount of pressure on developing communities in order to produce the greatest results.
The first step is to determine the target individuals of aid by looking at the “determinants of poverty” – little to no healthcare availability, no livelihood skills or capital, low self-esteem and illiteracy, as well as social exclusion. This is done through “participatory wealth ranking,” which directly engages the community.
Next, the individuals are provided with adequate resources and taught fundamentals through “asset grants.” Fundamentals include different livelihood skills and literacy abilities, such as being able to write his or her name for the first time.
The last tactic is monitoring. Arguably, this demonstrates the importance of such a hands-on approach and in fact is referred to as the “hand-holding” step. Progress is closely supervised. For two years the individuals receive direct assistance and have proven that these individuals are able to maintain a better quality of life over the next four years after they “graduate” the BRAC system.
While this methodology might seem a “brute force approach” concerning its direct and hands-on elements, it proves to be the most effective. BRAC is smart, efficient, and proven to work. It targets the “ultra-poor” specifically, sets goals and drives the ball home until the individuals have successfully been pulled out of poor living conditions.
– Felicia L. Warren