Eradicating poverty in all its forms remains one of the greatest challenges facing the world today.

The problems associated with poverty compound on one another.

People in poverty are significantly more likely to experience serious health problems, which in turn affects their ability to earn an income. They are less likely to have access to an education which might lift them out of poverty. And, when resources are scarce, already marginalised groups tend to be the first ones denied access.

With women denied economic independence, children denied an education and people with disabilities denied their accessibility needs, the situation becomes self-perpetuating.

That is why people often talk about a ‘cycle of poverty.’

The number of people living in extreme poverty in East and West Africa has grown from 278 million in 1990 to 431 million in 2021.

Statista, 2022

In rural Sierra Leone, where we have had several successful programmes, 60% of people live in poverty.

In the arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya, where we carry out our camel milk programmes, a two year drought has seen the percentage of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity—meaning their inability to consume adequate food is putting their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger—double from 2021 to 2022. It now sits at 24% of the regional population (ASAL Humanitarian Network, 2022).

Meanwhile, in Uganda it is estimated that over 13.8 million children, women and vulnerable people will need humanitarian assistance in 2023 (UNICEF, 2023).

Majid is fixing a bike wheel. He smiles, while kneeling behind it.

The cycle of poverty needs to be broken.

We take a holistic approach: supporting people to earn sustainable incomes through access to skills development and lasting work opportunities, while exchanging knowledge with them on how to tackle the root causes of poverty, so that no one is denied the right to fulfil their potential.

We have particular expertise in reaching out to vulnerable women, people with disabilities and youth – you can find out more about this here.

Woman in a black hat and black, 'I love Paris' t-shirt laughs and claps in front of a blackboard.

Change can happen

Since Action on Poverty was established, significant progress has been made to help people break free from poverty:

  • In Uganda, income poverty levels decreased by two thirds between 1990 and 2015 (UNDP, 2015).
  • In Sierra Leone, the literacy rate for young women aged 15-24 has increased from 37% in 2005 to 63% in 2018 (UNESCO, 2018)
  • Malnutrition among children in Kenya has fallen considerably in recent years – between 2009 and 2014, the proportion of children who are stunted (low height for age) fell from 35% to 26%.

We are proud of contributing to this progress over the years, from supporting young women in Sierra Leone to develop skills for employment, to improving child nutrition through sustainable camel milk enterprises in Kenya.

The challenge now is to ensure that development and economic growth is inclusive and sustainable, so that it benefits the most vulnerable sectors of the population.

Sustainable Development Agenda 2030

Our work cuts across all of the Sustainable Development Goals, but in particular we are focusing on ending extreme poverty (Goal 1) through:

  • Creating opportunities for all people to earn a fair income, with safe working conditions and good prospects for the future (Goal 8)
  • Empowering all women and girls and addressing the barriers that limit their participation in income generation and other opportunities (Goal 5)
  • Focusing on the needs and issues affecting the most vulnerable people, raising their voice and tackling wider stigma (Goal 10)