As someone who has been in the crosshairs of ultra poverty my whole life, and as someone who has seen countless antipoverty interventions come and go without leaving a trace, I firmly believe:

A strict adherence to top-bottom approaches simply won’t end global poverty.

The only way global poverty can end, is by putting the ultra poor, i.e., the people who themselves live on less than $1.9 a day in the global south, directly at the helm of ending extreme poverty.

Call it a bottom-up approach.

Everything else is only a timepass, and will never ever end global poverty.

For those of us who are directly sweating out the hardest forms of poverty in the global south, it is nearly impossible to escape extreme poverty under current approaches to ending global poverty.

It is precisely impossible.

So, for the period leading up to 2030, I have set for myself a new goal:

Between now and Dec 31, 2030, I will be using every single minute that I am awake to persistently rage, and to consistently vent my pain, until humanity as a species a) changes its approaches to ending global poverty and b) drops its pretext(s) for wanting to keep people like us in chronic poverty even in 2030.

So help me God. Help me dear humanity.

For the hundreds of millions of people across the global south who, just like me, have spent their entire lives in chronic poverty, our most cherished dream is to see a poverty-free world, for once.

But at this point, I am 100% convinced that this is something that will never ever happen, under current approaches to ending global poverty.

So, for the period leading up to 2030, I have set for myself a new goal:

Between now and Dec 31, 2030, I will be using every single minute that I am awake to persistently rage, and to consistently vent my pain, until humanity as a species a) changes its approaches to ending global poverty and b) drops its pretext(s) for wanting to keep people like us in chronic poverty even in 2030.

So help me God. Help me dear humanity.

Global extreme poverty has failed to end.

And now that the pandemic has thrown ~ 100 million more people into extreme poverty, in addition to the over half a billion who were already living in extreme poverty before covid, it is never going to end — not just in 2030, not just in 2045, not just in 2060, or even in 2075, but eternally.

Global poverty, however, hasn’t failed to end because of covid, or because there is somehow a shortage in global antipoverty funding. Nope.

This has never been a problem.

Remember, a single global antipoverty like the UNDP, the UN’s official global antipoverty agency, spends $5 billion annually. That figure is actually $6.5 billion in 2022. This is bigger than the GDP of several African countries, and it is the annual budget of just one global antipoverty agency.

Global extreme poverty has failed to end because, from the beginning of time, humanity has left the world’s ultra poor, the people who themselves live directly on less than $1.9 a day in the global south, on the sidelines of the global fight against poverty.

Year after year, humanity spends billions on ending global extreme poverty, in a way that makes it totally impossible for the extreme poor in the global south to ever see a single penny of it.

Today, only 1% of ALL the money that is intended to end global poverty, is what goes directly to the extreme poor in the global south.

To complicate it all, the people from the global development sector, who keep the other 99% of global antipoverty funding, and who could have been the ultimate allies of the poor, are instead the same people who will never ever work directly with the extreme poor on anything, unless when rolling out their own predetermined solutions.

But their own solutions, which could have brought them together with the extreme poor, only reach a few random poor communities, and often turn out to be very short-lived.

This is what makes a final end to global extreme poverty a very chanceful, opportunistic process.

Regardless, billions are still spent every year, in the name of ending global poverty, in a way that doesn’t touch the ultra poor in any way.

If you have ever been to a truly impoverished part of the planet, particularly in Africa, you may have already witnessed that, in many remote rural poor communities, there is simply nothing whatsoever that is happening to end extreme poverty. 

The only change that can ever happen in such communities, or put another way, the only change that will ever last in these places, is the change that is directly led by the ultra poor themselves.

It is also worth noting that, in many of these poor communities, countless antipoverty interventions have come and gone, without leaving a trace — a big reminder once again, that the only change that will ever last, or the only way poverty will ever end, is when the ultra poor themselves are at the helm.

The bad news? 

Humanity still insists that the world’s ultra poor must instead sit and wait for the right people to come & move them from poverty. For this reason, the world really is opposed to the idea of directly supporting the extreme poor, in the global south.

The day humanity will find the courage to put aside its hidden fears about the world’s ultra poor, e.g. the fear that these people could be fraudsters, and thus start directly supporting the people who themselves live on < $1.9 a day in the global south, is the day global poverty will end.

The global fight against poverty was supposed to be a very smooth, very seamless, and harmonized journey, if the people from the global development sector, or the global antipoverty movement, viewed those of us who live directly on <$1.9/day in the global south as very integral, equal partners.

Instead, these guys chose to be a very distant, very separate group who will never ever work directly with the extreme poor on anything, unless when rolling out their own predetermined solutions.

And the problem is that humanity as a whole really believes these people, rather than the ultra poor themselves, are the ones who must be at the helm.

For this reason, humanity really is very opposed to the idea of directly supporting the extreme poor in the global south.

Currently, only 1% of all Official Development Assistance (funding from agencies like USAID, UKAID etc), and an even smaller (i.e. < 1%) portion of humanitarian assistance (all charitable global antipoverty funding included), goes directly to the extreme poor in the global south.

The day humanity will find the BALLS to put aside its hidden fears about the world’s ultra poor, e.g. the fear that these people could be fraudsters, and thus start directly supporting the people who themselves live on < $1.9 a day in the global south, is the day global poverty will end.

The thing that makes it is simply impossible for global extreme poverty to ever end, or for the ultra poor in the global south to escape poverty (under current approaches to ending global poverty) is:

Firstly, the people from the global development sector, are the ones who keep 99% of all global antipoverty funding — with only 1% of it going directly to the extreme poor in the global south.

Secondly:

In almost all instances, the only time the extreme poor will ever ever get the chance to work together with the people from the development sector on anything, is when the development sector itself is implementing its own predetermined solutions, not when the extreme poor need them (i.e., not on poor people-led, grassroots solutions).

In other words, the global development sector are that group of people who are very, very distant from the extreme poor, and are that group of people who are very, very unavailable to the poor, because the only thing that brings them together with the extreme poor, is when they are installing their own solutions, not the other way round.

But their own solutions, which could have brought them together with the extreme poor, only reach a few random poor communities. 

And as one American writer says here, even in those few poor communities that are lucky enough to be touched, these solutions often turn out to be very short-lived. 

To put it directly in this writer’s words, “these interventions disappear almost immediately after the departure of our [prized] experts”.

The biggest problem though? 

Humanity as a whole is convinced this is the only way to go. That’s, humanity really believes the best way to end global poverty, is for the world’s ultra poor to sit and wait for the right people (i.e., those from the global development sector), to come and move them from poverty.

For this reason, humanity really is very opposed to the idea of directly supporting the extreme poor in the global south.

The result is that nearly all current solutions to ending global poverty have remained exclusively top-bottom, and largely short-lived. It has also meant that, in many of the poorest remote rural areas of the world, particularly in Africa, there is simply nothing that is happening to end poverty.

This is what makes a final end to global extreme poverty a very chanceful, opportunistic process.

Regardless, billions are still spent every year, in the name of ending global poverty, in a way that doesn’t touch the ultra poor in any way.

Humanity. What a species!

They are the only creation who will be very avid lovers of wildlife, while at the same time keen enough to bring a gun to kill that wildlife, calling themselves trophy hunters.

Similarly:

They are the only creation who will set very positive goals for human progress, such as the UN Global Goals, and then almost deliberately try to ensure these goals flounder — by finding every possible reason to shun any direct connection with those living in ultra poverty.

Wondering why I have decided to turn to raging, as a way of finding a voice on extreme poverty? In short, the elite who are at the helm, and who could have given a voice to people like us, are instead the hardest people humanity has ever bred.

To these people, opeds and opeds and opeds and opeds and opeds and opeds and opeds and opeds about how these people systematically make life very, very hard for those of us who were born into ultra poverty, all do not mean anything to them.

These people are the ones who constantly talk about ending global poverty. These people are also the ones who keep 99% of all global antipoverty funding. And yes, these people are the ones who are fronting the biggest global antipoverty and/or SDG-themed campaigns you have ever heard of.

But make no mistake, these people are the same ones who are very resolute never to work directly with the extreme poor on anything, unless when rolling out their own predetermined solutions.

And the problem is that humanity as a whole really believes these people are the ones the world’s poor must wait for, to move them from chronic poverty.

So, if you are wondering why I have taken this path, you have no idea how hard it is to live a life where extreme poverty is the only thing on your mind 24/7.

And you have no idea what it means to spend a lifetime in chronic poverty, when the only people humanity had entrusted to help you see a better world, are the same ones who operate primarily by finding every possible reason to skirt any direct connection with you.

There is simply no chance for those of us who are directly battling the direst forms of poverty in the global south to escape extreme poverty ever, under current approaches to ending global poverty.

And on this, humanity as a whole is a party in making life very intractable for people like us.

Why? By deciding that supporting the global antipoverty elite, rather than the extreme poor themselves, is the best thing to do, humanity as a creation is directly complicit in disenfranchising those of us at the very bottom of the pyramid, and is directly responsible for making a final end to global extreme poverty a very chanceful process.

The whole idea of supporting “the world’s most effective charities”, or “only well-vetted charities”, which in reality only means supporting big western charities, is the very reason the world’s extreme poor are where they are today.

This, in particular, is what I call humanity’s pretext(s) for wanting to keep people like us in chronic poverty even in 2030.

Because it is exactly what keeps 99% of global antipoverty funding away from the extreme poor, while keeping it in the hands of people who barely work with the poor, or at best, whose work is only present in very, very few random poor communities, and which work (as one American writer says here) tends to be very short-lived.

People’s livelihoods only keep getting harder, regardless of what the world is talking in New York or in Davos, and regardless of how much is being spent on ending extreme poverty.

Young people from my country are flocking to the Middle East (Saudi, Oman, UAE etc), only to come back in caskets, because of crippling poverty and unemployment back home. 

This could all really change, and global poverty surely would end for once, if humanity directly supported the people who live in abject poverty.