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From poverty reduction to wealth creation

Mar 13,2019 - Last updated at Mar 13,2019

Fighting poverty tops the list of national priorities and is anything but an easy job. What is to achieve this goal is a new homegrown sustainable model to curb the phenomenon and transform it from being a burden on the central budgets with a huge ineffective bureaucracy to a local dynamic. Poverty reduction is the outcome of a proper policy to utilise the available human and natural resources.

Poverty is a chronic aspect in all possible socioeconomic dynamics. However, there is a component in every system to address the situation of the less fortunate segment of the population. Nevertheless, in transitional stages, poverty hits more people and, more importantly, society’s ability to take effective action in that regard. 

The central government is directly engaged in fighting poverty, with international financial support, with efforts geared towards addressing the temporary weakness in local societies. It is temporary because it is curable. The goal of the new local development policies, after all, must be targeting “genuine and effective” capacity building of the local society, departing from lip service and empty slogans in economic development plans.

The paradigm shift in local development from poverty reduction to wealth creation is an indicator of a proper response to the current stage, under the headline: sustainable development. This shift is not merely about poverty reduction, but it is about the way to control it. This implies that poverty reduction should be part of a new socioeconomic dynamic that mobilises natural resources via local human resources. Financial resources are to guarantee effective synergy between local human and natural resources. Again, this shift is not to abandon the poor people but to fight poverty in a new effective way. What dictates this approach is the need for continuous transition to meet the challenges of continuous technological and global economic changes. The new vision is about sustainable capacity to cope with the multifaceted challenge. We need to introduce the concept of “resilience” to the development discourse.

Jordan needs to revise its local development vision to utilise what has been achieved in the local development programmes. For example, in Theeban, southern Madaba, two projects have been established; one is a dairy production facility worth JD20,000 and the other a tailor shop, may be at double the value. Both are not working. Prompt assessment to provide a compelling answer to the question why these two projects are not working is urgently needed. The goal is not to discipline anyone, but it is to guarantee that such a mistake will never happen again. Reassessment is to rebuild the vision and the guidance of the development programmes.

It is not the end of the story. Theeban is a city between three rivers, yet it has been suffering from water shortage over the last 30 years. The story of the “sheep wool” accentuates the need for revision of the local development model. The area has abundant quantity of wool; however, it is a wasted natural wealth. In fact, it has become an environmental dilemma. The old monopoly over the leather industry has obliterated other kin industries, including the wool industry.

Finally, engaging the local government as the institutional framework is not only to facilitate the relation between the local society and the central government. It is also to provide an institutional umbrella to facilitate the relation between local entrepreneurs and the national market. The local communities are not economic autonomies or an autonomous client base; they must be connected with the market as producers too. This implies an ensured ability to obtain financial resources from the banking system, and have in place outlets to market their products. The need for the new model is urgent and failure to launch has consequences.

 

The writer is a political analyst and commentator. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times

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