Eliminating poverty requires the empowerment of people to understand their own poverty and find solutions for it. Agency and self-efficacy are as important for moving out of poverty as opportunities and resources are. These premises are at the core of the Poverty Stoplight, a measurement tool and anti-poverty coaching programme that was developed in Paraguay more than a decade ago and is being adopted across the world.
In this episode, I speak with Martin Burt, founder and CEO of Fundacion Paraguaya, an NGO devoted to developing solutions to eliminate poverty, including the Poverty Stoplight. Martin documented the journey towards developing the Poverty Stoplight in his book ‘Who Owns Poverty?’. In the book, Martin challenges top-down and ‘expert’ thinking about poverty and how to resolve it. He provides a personal account of how his work on microfinance developed into the Poverty Stoplight programme.
The Poverty Stoplight programme is based on the premise that self-diagnosis of the multi-faceted problem of poverty and joint development of solutions to that problem is empowering and affords agency. As Martin notes, we all own our own poverty and hold the power to make positive change. Martin is currently working with the government in Paraguay to develop a law to eliminate poverty, and to consider the possibility of the Poverty Stoplight to be rolled out to the entire country. With many people likely to fall in to poverty due to Covid-19, this has never been more necessary.