Market systems and social protection approaches to sustained exits from poverty: Can we combine the best of both?
On a recent field trip in Kalikot in remote, rural Nepal, our team came across a poor local man who had been working as a cook, until he was approached by a well-meaning INGO who paid him to attend training on how to become a weaver. A few months later, the INGO paid him some more to train 32 others to become weavers and provide them all with free materials to get started with. Two years later he had woven and sold a total of two shawls. Chatting with him he reckoned few if any of his trainees were still in the weaving business as none of them had any idea where to get raw materials for weaving or where to sell their shawls
This is symptomatic of some pretty poor development thinking (and spending) – if indeed any thinking was done at all. Too often in development there is too much effort put into giving things away to poor people – like free training, or chickens – that we think might just give them the necessary ‘leg up’ into the economy, but too little effort put into thinking about who might offer weaving training in the future when our project funds dry up or who will buy those chickens, or provide vet services to keep them healthy. Essentially, too little thought given to sustainability and a credible vision of how things might work in the future.
Yet we all want to help poor people get out – and stay out – of poverty, what many people call ‘graduation’. I’ve had the pleasure of rubbing shoulders with professionals promoting social protection (SP) approaches to graduation, and those promoting market systems development (MSD) approaches to a sustainable exit from poverty. But you could probably not get two more …read more