"Voices of the Poor" is a series of three books that collates the experiences, views and aspirations of over 60,000 poor women and men. This first book of the series gathers the voices of over 40,000 poor women and men in 50 countries from the World Bank's participatory poverty assessments. Using participatory and qualitative research methods, the study presents very directly, through poor people's own voices, the realities of their lives; these voices send powerful messages that point the way toward policy change. The book explores the common patterns that emerged from poor people's experiences in many different places. It starts by presenting the conceptual framework, elaborating on participatory poverty assessments and the study's methodology, including its limitations. It then articulates definitions of poverty from the perspective of the poor, stressing its multi-dimensionality. State institutions and civil society institutions are assessed critically, with their impact on reaching the poor deemed ineffective and limited respectively, forcing the poor to depend primarily on informal networks. Gender relations in the household are then analysed, as is how these affect and are affected by larger institutions of society. The issue of social fragmentation is also explored, including a discussion of social cohesion and social exclusion. The book concludes by proposing the way forward, while elaborating the elements of a strategy for change.
286 p. + Appendices
OUP for the World Bank