At Action on Poverty our vision is to see a world free from poverty and discrimination. We want to create opportunities so that people can lift themselves out of the trap poverty creates.
Development practice is often criticised because of issues surrounding dependency and cultural imperialism. Concerns have arisen around the nature of aid and international development, with critics calling for organisations to ensure that the work they conduct is culturally relevant to beneficiaries, encouraging ownership and self-sufficiency.
Our work promotes economic empowerment and aims to support some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people obtain safe and sustainable livelihoods.
We have identified that providing income earning opportunities equips people with the skills they need to provide for themselves today and in the future. Establishing training schemes, safe working environments, and rights education can be key to supporting an individual to achieve sustainability.
Our work aims to ensure that our beneficiaries don’t become dependent on our support, but instead use our assistance as a stepping stone toward self-sufficiency.
Our projects serve to provide solutions so that people can become independent of our help. By focusing on livelihood opportunities we are able to give people a hand up not a hand out. Working in this ways massively reduces the about of dependency created.
One of our former projects in Kenya with in country partner SITE sought to improve working conditions within the soap stone sector. All soap stone in Kenya comes from one area in the east of the country; Tabaka. The Kisii stone sector involves an estimated 12,000 people in and around Tabaka; including quarry owners, miners, carvers, finishers, packers, middlemen, retailers, wholesalers and exporters. Nearly all carving and finishing work is carried out by freelance workers as a household activity.
The sector may provide working opportunities for many of the residents in this region but 67% of the people living in this area lived below the national poverty line of £11 per month.
Earning income from this sector can be unreliable because the haphazard nature of quarrying for Kisii stone where miners simply follow seams, creates dangerous overhangs and piling debris around the workplace. Quarries can soon become too dangerous to work in, restricting ability to earn.
Our aim was to strengthen the production capacity of the sector, whilst also ensuring that workers were operating in safe environments. Offering specific training allowed workers to complete tasks more effectively and efficiently.
Because of extreme poverty many workers were operating with any formal training and using weak handmade tools. This lead to low productivity and low income.
Justus, was one of the quarry workers that benefited from our project. He had no decent equipment or training, he was struggling to provide for his family. He needed way to be able to feed his family and support his 3 children through school.
“These opportunities gave me hope, they changed the way I was doing things. I’m now able to sustain my family, they never lack food, clothes or school books. It changed our lives.”
Providing people like Justus with the training, resources and knowledge to enhance their productivity allows them to access increased incomes. It creates a circle of progression: when people earn more money they can afford more appropriate tools, increasing their work quality, thus leading to further income increases.
This is what creates sustainability – people are able to take control over their own progression, they have been equipped with skills that help their immediate challenges but these are important stepping stones that allow them to become independent of assistance in the future.
At Action on Poverty we are committed helping some of the most marginalised and vulnerable people access brighter futures. Within that we work to keep dependency between ourselves and our beneficiaries to a minimal. Providing tools and resources to foster self-sufficiency is a vital component of our ethos.
Over the next couple of months we are going to be sharing stories of some of the incredible people we work with. We want to highlight the ways they have been able to sustain the support offered to them, building their own capacity and leading much more prosperous and stable lives.