CARE's vision for a world without poverty requires us to address the underlying causes of poverty, rather than to simply focus on its symptoms.
Poverty is the product of complex social processes that affect people’s dignity and security as well as their material well-being. CARE seeks to understand all the factors that make people poor before choosing which ones to concentrate on in each individual project.
CARE staff advising a coffee plantation farmer in Honduras.
A mother in Malawi, for example, who struggles to grow enough food for her family year after year, could be struggling because drought or another natural disaster continually causes her crops to fail.
But there may be other reasons for her poverty. She might not have the skills to get the highest yield from her crops, for instance. And, on top of that, she might be marginalised by people in her community – maybe because she has been diagnosed with HIV or is caring for a sick family member – and as a result faces a number of difficulties.
There are many reasons why people around the world are poor – and cannot break out of a cycle of poverty.
Causes of poverty
To make sense of all this, CARE finds it useful to describe our work under three categories, examining the causes of poverty from three different perspectives:
- first, from the perspective of people’s basic needs
- then from their position in society
- and last from the way the society in which they live works
Effects of poverty, addressed from three different points of view:
- Human conditions: we ensure that people’s basic needs – such as the need for food and clean water – are met, and that future generations have these needs met as well
- Social positions: we help people to take control of their lives, end inequality and discrimination and fulfil their rights, responsibilities and aspirations
- Enabling environment: we focus on creating sound and equitable governance, private sector and thriving civil society to establish a social and political environment that promotes equity, justice and secure livelihoods for all
These three perspectives bring together the breadth of CARE’s work – from helping poor people find work which gives them a steady income, to teaching them about how to realise their rights, to lobbying for governments to be fair.
By addressing the underlying causes of poverty, CARE is developing sustainable solutions for the future.