I’ve seen how top-down solutions doom the world’s poorest to eternal poverty.

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In 2020 many people said the world should not go back to “normal”, the old ways that defined it before the Covid pandemic. “The problem was normal,” even said the Overseas Development Institute, a UK-based think tank.

I wish the world would remember this.

Whether it’s a health crisis or a climate emergency, the world’s extreme poor are the ones most distressed by the restructuring process during and after the crisis itself.

Before Uganda declared its first quarantine in March 2020, households in my area in Kamuli in the east of the country were in serious need of food. People have had a hard time securing items like masks and sanitary items. After all, many were living in chronic poverty even before Covid.

Therefore, I believe that if this epidemic is a lesson not to return to normal, then what needs to be addressed is poverty.

The world does not necessarily need new sources of finance to end global poverty. The money needed is the same as the amount currently being spent – badly.

I turned 41 last year. I have never set foot outside of sub-Saharan Africa, the center of chronic poverty in the world. I knew his true wrath. Only a few years ago there were times when I went days without food.

Uganda has a fair share of poverty, but my district, Busoga, is the highest at 74.8%, compared to the national average of 63%, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos). The deeper you go in the countryside, the harder life gets. If you ignore the urban centers like the touristic city of Jinja, the poverty rate in rural Busoga, like my village Namisita, is well above 90%.

This poverty is reflected in the news headline after the news headline. Busoga is a proverb for people who live an almost ancient lifestyle in abject poverty.

Nationally, 60% of working Ugandans earn 200,000 Ugandan shillings (£44.50) a month, about £1.50 a day. But most of them are unemployed in Busoga. This is especially true for my neighboring areas of Kamuli and Buyende, which are home to over a million people: there are people earning 50,000 to 100,000 Ugandan shillings (around £11 to £22) over the entire four-month planting season; people who have rags for sheets in their homes.

Inside March Last year a woman visited my project, the Uganda Community Farm (UCF) in Namisita, to ask for seeds in preparation for the expected rains in April. His story was typical: “I don’t have soap. I don’t have salt. I want to rent an ox plow to prepare my land, but I have no money.”

Life here has much in common with many other poor communities, and current initiatives to end global poverty make escape impossible.

When the UN’s global goals were launched in 2015, I was hungry and hungry since childhood. I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands and make change my goal.

Today, I know a thing or two about the global anti-poverty world. And it’s not working.

It’s nearly impossible to get anyone in the development industry to work together on weak human-led solutions.

Take a town of Buyende with over 400,000 inhabitants, where you’d have a hard time finding any agency that has visited in recent years. It’s the same with many other communities in Busoga.

According to the 2021 Ubos report, “poverty programs and interventions have had no effect in reducing poverty”. Because interventions have always been top-down. Humanity still believes that the best solution for the world’s poor is to sit back and wait for the right people from the north of the world to come and help.

Today, only 1% of all money (official development aid and humanitarian aid combined) allocated to end poverty goes directly to the extreme poor.

Only 1% of all official development assistance (funding from agencies such as USAid and UKAid) and an even smaller proportion of all international humanitarian aid (including all charitable funding) (0.4% in 2018) goes directly to grassroots organizations globally . south.

Only 5.2% of US trust funding earmarked for sub-Saharan Africa in 2018 went to local organizations – the African Visionary Fund, a partnership between the Segal Family Foundation and other US donors, says on its site. Website citing the US Council of Foundations.

This means that around 99% of anti-poverty funding remains in the hands of the global development sector, namely western agencies.

The only way out of poverty for people like us is to wait for the industry’s chance visit to our village.

However, the industry has historically stayed away from the poor and is very inaccessible. It is nearly impossible to persuade anyone in the development sector to work together on poor people-led solutions.

There are millions of well-meaning people who really want to make the world a better place. congenital Those who want to help people out of poverty, but have been conditioned to believe that the best way to do so is to place that support safely away from the poor themselves and be careful not to work with them directly – those of the African poor who want to commit fraud.

Only the most “legitimate” people – those from the global north – should be at the helm. For example, after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Forbes said: “Don’t send money abroad. While Haiti is a foreign disaster, do not send donations to a foreign bank account. Experts say it’s never legitimate.”

“In the 24 hours after the Haiti earthquake, scammers were at work trying to profit from the disaster,” CS Monitor said. “Watch out for fake online help for Haiti,” warned NBC News. “Watch out for these instant donations,” ABC News said.

Related: Decades of progress on extreme poverty now reversed due to Covid

For those of us here, if you contact someone in the global north and ask for a tweet about your cause, they’ll usually be embarrassed and dismiss it without taking the time to find out what you’re up to. They’ve been conditioned to think you’re a swindler.

This is mostly down to the international media and the global development sector itself – the same people who should be allies of the poor.

I ask those who are conditioned to be wary of the poor of the world: please change your minds. By clinging to this worldview, you are helping to condemn people to eternal poverty.

There is no such thing as people who are more legitimate than others. We are all the same. The only thing that makes us different is opportunity or the absence of it.

Even those labeled as “scammers” or “Nigerian prince” scammers are only where they are due to economic inequality.

The top-down approach was more than good: it just didn’t work. The only thing he’s accomplished is keeping those in poverty on the sidelines.

The world has spent too much time trying to end global extreme poverty with the same approaches and the same failures.

If the Covid pandemic is to be a lesson for the world not to return to normal, now is the time to lead the extreme poor.

  • Anthony Kalulu is a farmer in Namisita, eastern Uganda. He is the founder of Uganda Community Farm, a non-profit working to end extreme poverty.

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