Doctoral Project Abstract
Poverty Reduction Seminar-Workshop: Understanding a Causal Model of Poverty in Burkina Faso and Working with Leaders Towards Holistic and Sustainable Solutions in Achieving MDG Goal 1
The World Bank (2000) has defined poverty as "pronounced deprivation in well-being" (p. 15). With respect to developing nations, human deprivation is said to be characterized by a lack of material consumption due to inadequate income levels, inadequate education, poor health conditions, extreme physical and economic vulnerability, the lack of protection from non-safe drinking water, poor sanitation, hunger, starvation or other such risks (The World Bank, 2000). Economist Amartya Sen further characterizes poverty as deprivation by defining it in terms of the inability to function in society, as well as the lack of capabilities for avoiding or preventing death prematurely (Sen, 2006). Yet, perhaps a more enlightened understanding of poverty and its impact on entire nations is gained from the words of former World Bank President Robert McNamara, who defined it relative to a population of people living below a specified poverty threshold ($ 1.25 per day), referred to as "absolute poverty" (McNamara, 1973; Watkins, 1995). In his characterization of absolute poverty, McNamara (1973) specified such things as high infant mortality and low life expectancy, and stated: "Absolute poverty is a condition of life so degraded by disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, and squalor as to deny its victims basic human necessities . . . a condition of life so degrading as to insult human dignity . . ." (pp. 3-4).
As some determinants of poverty incidences in Burkina Faso were identified as low agricultural and labor productivity, a lack of available water, land and other environmental resources, a lack of appropriate technology, and a "hostile ecosystem," it is reasonably argued that a "productivity revolution" is key for empowering the impoverished to lift themselves out of poverty (Ministry of Economy and Finance, 2000; The World Bank, 2007). Without a revolution in [agricultural] productivity, it is likely that the present uncertainty surrounding Burkina's future with respect to trends that indicate increasing incidences of poverty from one period of time to another will continue (The World Bank, 2007). Recognizing Burkina's commitment to achieving the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG), eradicating extreme poverty and hunger [most prevelant among women and other vulnerable], this 3 day seminar-workshop designed to work with leaders towards a causal-loop understanding of poverty and how to address it holistically and sustainably.
Targeting stakeholders in various government ministries, the educational sector, and NGOs, the seminar-workshop combines theory and discussion with hands-on practice for an interactive learning experience. The seminar-workshop includes program surveys, readings and activity manual, powerpoint presentations, an activity workbook and outdoor practicals that promote a framework for sustainable development-having orgins in ecological science and systems thinking. The key program outcome is "whole person" learning, involving perspective-altering thinking, decision-making, and behavior (Yorks & Kasi, 2002).