Should Aid Focus on, Poor People or Poor Countries?

As always, the amazing Duncan Green communicates more brilliantly and with a few other outside references about the topics we are thinking about here in a recent blog post: What Should Aid Focus on, Poor People or Poor Countries? In the post, he is reviewing a paper that reports that three-quarters of the world’s poor live in middle-income countries. So fascinating.

My blog post from last week was about the heated internal discussions a number of us have been having about how to establish exit criteria with our new Metrics system in the communities where we work. Green’s blog post made me think about our difficulties there as well as our criteria for picking new communities to go to in the long run.

Our model is to conduct interventions that are sustainable and scalable. That means we will enter rural extremely impoverished communities that have an expressed need for the work we do, and then our model will scale out of the initial seed community and be, again, sustainable and scalable kind of to infinity!

The way we have considered, planned, and communicated our future expansion has always been by country. We plan to find countries that are experiencing extreme poverty and then find a community within each country that  is rural and extremely impoverished. That is loosely how we have thought about this process. I must give credit to Aerie Changala, our Director of International Operations, for reminding me many months ago in several discussions that not all poor people are in poor countries. With his influence, we might eventually evolve the way we think about expansion in the future.

..but going back to the other thing that Green’s post made me think of, as I discussed last week,  the statistics that relate to the delineation between extreme poverty, poverty, and “middle income” are generally presented and talked about at the country level. This is very different from community-level poverty, and the experience of community-level poverty, I believe, is best defined uniquely, in accordance with the nature of said community.

Not believing me or getting it? Check out Green’s post from 10/6 about Obesity as a Development Issue. Trust me, the experience of poverty can be very different for very different people.

Please stay-tuned for a big update from me about the history of our M&E process here at Nuru in the near future. In addition, I’ll give you a little update about some of the one-off research projects we’re managing to look into here.

Until next week, thank you!


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