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Our world is a place of many contrasts. We observe extremely rich people, then we face extreme poverty. It can be quite disturbing when we read that more than half of the world have less than $2 per day to survive. We usually would like to help, but on the other hand, we do not know how to do it effectively. Poverty is our huge problem, fortunately, it is possible to solve.

Dr. Dennis Labayen has been working on creating the best way to fight poverty in the poorest communities around the world. It is crucial to understand that the right quality of our help is indispensable, since interim solutions have already proved to be ineffective. Bearing this in mind, Labayen and his team created Participatory Human Development – a process aimed at fighting poverty, which includes five important elements and strategies.

  1. Those who need help must have voice. The members of communities affected by poverty should be enabled to take part in the process of improving their situation. Consultations with them, their active participation, looking for ideas to solve their own (best known by them) problems will make the whole process more specific and thus, more effective in this certain group. Other important aspect here is the positive impact of this approach on the affected people. They would feel engaged and truly able to change their lives.
  2. Working with a few individuals should be changed into collective and organized actions aimed at empowering those in poverty. We need to create organized groups within communities. Firstly, it is much easier to provide help by organization. Apart from this, a collective organization enables us to address problems better and still makes every individual benefit from the process by his or her development.
  3. Issues and problems should be identified by the people in poverty. So as to make the process sustained, we need the people’s involvement and systematic problem identification. They will be systematically gaining self-confidence and also developing skills of working in a group to solve issues. Their experience will be next used to address more complex problems.
  4. The people in poverty must realize that they can often identify and solve their problems themselves. It is a very important goal of the process, since such awareness will enable the people to sustain the efforts, results and then address other problems.

The process of fighting poverty needs to be long. If we want to see lasting and satisfying results we must be aware that this kind of transformation just demands quite a long period of time to be finished. What we need is the people affected by poverty taking an active part in their process of development and change. We must think prospectively, helping not only here and now, which would mean just supporting financially and disappearing with the feeling of fulfilled duty. People in poverty must be taught how to be involved, influence and improve their reality on their own.