The poverty issue

This issue of” Poverty” has been general concern to humanity due to the serious setback it is causing globally. It has become the World’s epidemic threatening some economic especially those in the Least Developing countries (LDCs). Hence, the magnitude of poverty though varying in different parts of the world is known to be prominent in the LDCs. Countries could be found in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. According to Raanan Weitz 1986, “While humanity shares one planet, it is a planet on which there are two worlds, the rich and the world of the poor” these poor world countries are called the Third World.[1]

They are characterized by low economic growth, low per capital income, low standards of living ,low level of technology, high illiteracy rate, political instability.

All of these serve as an impediment to the economic growth processes of these countries.

According to Allan Cochrane” A crucial aspect of poverty is the way in which
It reduces ability of people to participate in the normal lives of their communities with stress being placed on the deprivation which results from the lack rather than low income itself”[2]

Poverty can influence policy intervene in any society and it is central to policy debates concerning development on welfare issue.

After the end of the first and second World Wars that lead mostly to the devastation of Europe, a group countries came together to form the league that will seek to the
Affairs of their countries, promote international relations seeking to operate in a variety of areas of human activities. This resulted to formation of International Governmental Organization (INGOs) charged with the responsibility and vision to facilitate the issue of war and peace, disease prevention and peace, and economic development. These IGOs seem to be dominant in contemporary international affairs.

Besides, other actors who also play significant role in influencing and determining the course of international relations but yet are not so officially recognized by states, (nonprofit making, voluntarily farmed, specific aims and objectives and that which are active in various human welfare),are Non- governmental Organization(NGOs).

According to Daniel S. Papp, Non-government Organizations are extremely divers in Size, composition objective and include bodies such as the International Olympic
Commission (IOC).

The Committee for nuclear disarmament, the International Federation of Air line Pilots Association, International Rescue Committee (IRC).

The International Chamber of commerce, and the World Federation of true Union.[3]

In the least developed countries like Africa, both the income and non- income aspect poverty is pervasive due to problem stretching from bad governance and mismanagement, poor economic growth, unemployment and underemployment, lack of access to social services ,low level of investment, high degree of indebtness and many others. The above, mentioned views are buttress by Santiago (1973), thus “the third world, with 77% of the population, subsists on only 22% of the world income and even this population is in abject poverty[4]

Nevertheless, most of the LDCs have formulated policies and strategies for poverty reduction in their development plans supported and financed by international organizations.

Sierra Leone at the west coast of Africa, according to world population data of the reference bureau, Sierra Leone has an estimated population of about 4.5 million. With the natural resources vary from fertile land tropical mineral deposits. Yet, it is ranked at the bottom of united nation Human Development Index (HDI) as the poorest in the world.

In support to further reforms and effort to stabilize the economy, “the International Monetary Fund(IMF)approved an economic program inflict assistance to facilitate the economy in December 1999.The World Bank also launched the Economic Rehabilitation and Recovery credit to assist Government in restoring protective and economic security.

Other donors including the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), THE Department for International Development (DFID) UK and the European Economic Commission (EU) or (EEC) have provided ongoing emergency recovery assistance and budgetary support to enhance government capacity to fund critical program and improve service delivery”[5]

In a bid to improve on the efficiency of donors support, the Government has centralized aid Coordination in the Ministry of Development and Economic Planning (MODEP) to formulate humanitarian guideline for all NGOs operating in the country.

About 75.5% of the population live below the poverty line less than one United States dollar (UA$1) per day” [6].This low human development will include indicators like: low primary school enrollment, high illiteracy rate, high maternal death rate, and low level of security etc.

However, the poverty situation becomes worsened during the war when most sectors from which the government was receiving revenue especially the mining sector become the target of the war. With the end of the war and successful conclusion of Presidential and Parliamentary elections on the 14th May 2002, Government has already implemented series of strategies that seek to alleviate poverty. To redress poverty, the government articulated and interim poverty reduction paper (I-PRSP) in June2001.

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Government Institutions, Sectors, International Organization and the international community have refined their policies toward reducing poverty in the country.


The researcher due to time limitation, and with regards to the objective of this work, researcher will be assessing information gathered from secondary sources/data in order to produce the required and desired result.

The researcher opted to integrate the qualitative approach in this study due to its significant advantages. The use of qualitative data gathering method is advantageous as they are more open to changes and refinement of research ideas as the study progresses; this implies that qualitative data gathering tools are highly flexible.

This study will use interpretivist as its main research philosophy. A descriptive research intends to present facts concerning the nature and status of a situation, as it exists at the time of the study (Creswell, 1994).

It is also concerned with relationships and practices that exist, beliefs and process that are on-going, effects that are being felt or trends that are developing. In addition, such approach tries to describe past, present conditions, events or systems based on the impressions or reactions of the respondents of the research (Creswell, 1994).

The ontology of qualitative methods is constructivist, which contends that social phenomenon is continually being accomplished by social actors- they are produced through social interaction and are thus constantly being revised.[7]

Basically, a descriptive research utilizes observations and surveys. It is for this particular reason that this approach was chosen by the researcher, whose intention is to gather first hand data. Moreover, this will allow for a flexible approach that when important new issues and questions arise at the duration of the study, a further investigation can be conducted. Another advantage is that with this approach, the research will be fast and somehow cost-effective.

Aside from the qualitative finding method, secondary research will be conducted in this study. Sources in secondary research will include previous research reports, development books, world and regional documentations, existing findings on journals and existing knowledge on books, firsthand communication source from international organization websites, newspapers, magazines and appropriate use of the internet. The study will undertake an extensive review of the relevant literature on the role played by NGOs in alleviating poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, Case study caritas as a case study. Basically, interpretation will be conducted which can account as qualitative in nature.


Poverty is a situation which renders communities and individuals ineffective, passive an isolated, thereby reducing the ability of people to participate in the normal lives of their communities resulting to deprivation which is characterized by lack of income rather than the low income itself.

This poverty epidemic is very widespread in Sierra Leone. It penetrates all sectors of our society and at the same time arrests development. Poverty is the major hurdle and impediments of developmental aspirations and strides in the third world which Sierra Leone is an integral component.


Similar research works have been undertaking in parts of the country, and at various quarters to investigate the role played by NGOs in complementing and fulfillment of Government’s efforts in its stride to help improve the welfare of the citizens.

However, many campaigns , talks and surveys have proved right that NGOs indeed playing crucial roles in human activities and have had some degrees of successes in obtaining the objective Example of such NGOs include: The International Red Cross, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, The World Vision, Catholic Relief Service and the like.

Hence, it is important for a survey like this to be conducted to see how Caritas in Sierra Leone in helping to alleviate. In Sierra Leone like in any other third world countries, poverty is a complete rural phenomenon. Survey undertaking by various quarters, groups, researchers, civil societies, government sectors have shown that poverty is very alarming in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sierra Leone. To add an addendum to this point, the Central Statistics Office now known as Statistic Sierra Leone,(SCOSHEHEA 1989-1990), explain thus: Eastern Province about 26.4%of the population is poor, Northern province 35.3%,Western Area 15.9% and the SouthernProvince22.3%.

Poverty is manifested in the following activities, some single parent family begging in streets, increase in commercial sex work, and an increase in the number of early marriage and pregnancy, high rate of inflation, massive unemployment of Youth etc.

The study seeks to highlight the important role played by NGOs with emphasis on Caritas in alleviating poverty. It will also serve as a basis for now and future projection in the allocation of resource for development program

Lastly, with the completion of the research work, it can be of good source of information for future researchers, who may wish to further investigate the role NGOs play in poverty alleviations.


Caritas Sierra Leone (NGO) is helping and completing Government’s effort to alleviate poverty in Sierra Leone. How?

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This work is divided into five sections these include; section (1) Background/History of poverty

Section (2) Background to case study that is background history of Caritas Sierra Leone, section (3) Origin and meaning of NGOs, section (4) Analysis of Caritas activities in Sierra Leone (Agriculture, education, Health), section five Analysis and interpretation of data based on the empirical result and section (5) conclusion.

The research work is designed to cover three implementing sectors of Caritas with regard to poverty alleviation, they includes:

  • Agricultural Recovery/Activities
  • Education
  • Health


The major aim of this research is to assess Caritas Sierra Leone (NGO) role play in alleviating poverty in Sierra Leone.

  • The objective is to give brief meaning and origin of NGOs, brief historical background of Caritas, and to,
  • Assess the various activities of Caritas on poverty reduction in areas of operations in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone.


This study is descriptive and to meet the objectives of this dissertation, the desk research method is used which involves collection of data from Caritas field officers, and administrators, and documentation etc.

Reviews of the related articles, publications, books written by development writers and development journals on this subject matter have would be review and consulted and used. Both quantitative and qualitative methods of data analysis will be used.


Tables, Chats, Averages, and Percentages will be used to analyze and present the data.


Poverty has become a sensitive issue all over the world. Because of this ,individual, consultative group meetings, Government Institutions, Non- Governmental Organisation, Human Right Activist Groups, Humanitarian Organisation, Civil Societies groups, Women Organisations, have in diverse ways undertaken research work written books and formulated activities and strategies towards alleviating poverty.

In the course of this discussion, divergent views from selected work will be determine critically to look at the designs and mechanisms adopted by NGOs with specific reference to Caritas sierra Leone to reduce poverty in the LDCs.

Peter Townsend (1979) an exponent on the concept and its effect on humanity viewed poverty as follows; “Individuals, families and groups in population can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the activities and how the living the conditions and amenities which are customary or approved in the societies to which they belong” .There resources are so seriously below those commanded by the average individual or family that they in effect excluded from the ordinary living patterns, custom and activities.

Similarly so in Sierra Leone, a situation current under which the bulk of the population is being affected more especially in the rural areas.

This work will however examine the length and extent of the poor status under which the population is categories and how it has been alleviated with the intervention of Caritas in Sierra Leone.

Evaluating the impact of NGOs, Women’s Association in Rural Poverty Alleviation, Connick (1992) outlined the spending power of the average urban household is 2.5 times as the average rural, household ,with a large proportion of the rural household clustered in the lowest spending expenditure groups . The selection of the reviewed location of this study is a clear indication to the fact that the poverty is a rural phenomenon in Sierra Leone and the need for partners in development like Caritas to engage in activities that alleviate poverty in this area is a much concern to this research.

Galbraith John Kenneth (1970) revealed that, poverty may itself be a cause of poverty. This is because; it denies the country from investment, revenues for education or purchasing power for consumer product, which in turn, is an inventive to effort. Thus, poverty perpetuates itself. Such are the fundamental that both systems must attack. It is unlikely, that that the causes operate in the same form and in the intensively in any two cases. Effective attacks therefore require not only efficient remedies but also effective diagnosed of the condition to be ameliorated.

In applying strategies/policies geared towards poverty reduction in the country, proper identification of the poverty situation should be undertaken.

This however, should be complemented by inducting activities and policies to reduce poverty. However, streaming the poverty alleviation programmes, of Caritas from 2001-2008 is a period diagnosed as poverty being very prominent.

The strategies and mechanism used by Caritas in fighting poverty is the backbone of this research work.

Forster and Shorrocks (1991) argue that aggregate measure of poverty have to be sub-divided consistent. This poverty of a poverty index is closely associated with the nation of decomposability or adaptively across sub-groups .If a poverty index is sub-group consisting, then it must be in the Forster etal, class or any of their increasing transformation.

In support of Forster and Shorrocks 1991 statement, Sierra Leone Government put strategy and mechanisms in place, in order to sub-grouped poverty. The Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy was form to look into the poverty situation.

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Von Pisschke (1919) recognized that, poverty is contextual that is not static and it is relative. Micro credit loan was introduced as a mechanism for the poor to pursue Poverty Reduction activities which were within means and capacities. The knowledge behind this is that, poverty situation can be improved and a way of doing this is through giving micro-credit loans to co-operative groups, women’s Organisation. Individuals, to actively engage in activities like small scale business, agricultural activities, which aid in the increase and improvement of diets as well as participating in the activities of their respective communities. This is evident in areas in which Local NGOs; International NGOs operate to reduce poverty in the society. A case study is the activities of Caritas in rural areas and rural urban areas within the last twelve years.

A conceptual frame work is that, micro-credit or small loan recommended as a process for generating income through Agricultural activities. Literacy programmes, Skill training or through Small- scale business is widely a concept in the areas where NGOs and other societier Organisations operate. Caritas will be the one under investigation.

With regard to this issue, Khander and Kabeer (1998) discussed the idea that, NGOs and Donors were dictated on policies which specifically called for the increased in micro-credit loans to reach out to women and these micro-credit programmes did not limit their desire impact to poverty reduction only but extended it to achieve women’s empowerment

Nonetheless, in Sub-Saharan Economics, Agriculture is purely subsistence and women are the actors in the production of food and responsible for the smooth running of the home, loans are therefore giving and directed to undertake such activities in the society in order to reduce poverty.

Evidence in Chao Beroff (1999) shown that, micro-credit programmes were meant to help the poor generate income and alleviate the poverty sustainable.

Similarly, Mayout (2000) explained in the second paradigm that is called the “poverty Alleviation Paradigm” which manifested in increasing outreach and access to the poor ,providing small loans for consumption and training in some of the poor segment of the population and they are the ones directly targeted and responsible for the family well-being.

The issue here is that, micro-credit are meant and targeted more specifically for women whose role in the family well-being are very significant.

Mansaray Shiekh U. (1995) also explained that, education, per-capital income, level of investment changes in farm size, employment health, food and nutrition etc were the agents or sectors of development.

However, an improvement in these sectors will bring about sustainable development that will reduce poverty. The role of Non-governmental Organisation in development with specific references to the association of Rural Development was taken as the subject on these issues.

Susistainable development, however gives to growth leading to a high standard of living .With regard to this, poverty will be alleviated. This study focuses and is however related to examination of the role of Caritas in alleviating poverty with special references to the aspects of Agriculture production, skill training Literacy which is part of the sectors, outlines in development.

Gordon Drabek (1988) outlined various analytic concepts and prescription within the idea of promoting NGOs in the developing countries .Many reasons related to the mistakes that have been occurring over time by socio-economic developing countries and making the individual who are intended to gain from these developmental policies continue to remain poor as ever. However, NGOs have contributed significant resource of different categories to development programmes at community and national level for the benefit of the deprived groups in the rural and urban communities. In assessing the role of Caritas in alleviating poverty in Sierra Leone will be an evident toward NGOs performance in their intended purposes.

Also, Chamber R. (1988) used the idea of “Additionally” to present the outstanding contribution of NGOs to development programmes. “Additionally” here means the making of things better than they would have been and allows for bad as well as good effects. Quiet a substantial number of NGOs which operate in Sierra Leone of which Caritas is one among the many. Caritas in this respect is targeted to see the extent of its contribution in poverty alleviation well composed, organized, established and their contribution towards improving human activities in rural and urban communities is well organized.

  1. Raanan Weitz (1986)
  2. Allan Cochrane (1992) “problems of poverty” And abstract from social problem and the family pages
  3. Daniel S. Papp Contemporary International Relation Pages 91-92.
  4. Santiago (1973) Declaration of Third World, World Economic
  5. Republic of Sierra Leone. Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper June 2001.
  6. Human Development Reports 2002.United Nation Development Program New York.
  7. Creswell, J.W. (1994) Research design: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage. in Bryman (2001) Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p.264
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