For anyone who believes that poverty is essentially lack of stuff or that the primary cure for poverty is giving stuff to people who don’t have it, this DVD series is for you. Instead of asking how to reduce poverty this video explores how the developing world has created prosperity for their families and communities.
The video series begins with a testimony from a Kenyan woman who remembers that as a little girl she noticed the shirt she was wearing was manufactured in Kenya. Now she says with so many clothes give-aways from other nations flooding the market, all the local manufacturers have closed their doors. An African medical supply manufacturer explains how his business suffers when shiploads of free medical supplies arrive and overwhelm the demand for his products. Shipments of free food drive down the prices of food so that local farmers can’t make a profit. These “gifts” bankrupt local manufacturers, become a key cause of unemployment in the region, and create further dependency.
In the last twenty-five years world poverty rates have declined rapidly, see more here. What has caused this? Massive aid programs? Can you name a country that lifted itself out of poverty and became productive because of aid programs?
One issue the PovertyCure DVD series explores the issue of justice. They don’t use the word justice as a synonym for a government using coercion to transfer wealth from one person to another. Even some Christians have fallen into these kinds of errors (like Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger). Instead, PovertyCure gives evidence to show that when clear property rights and rule of law are present the foundation for economic development is established. In some countries as much as 70 percent of the land has no clear property title. Correcting these actual injustices has much more effect on a nation’s poverty and development than aid programs.
The problem of the poor in the developing world isn’t their exclusion from food or medical care, the problem is their exclusion from commercial systems, markets, circles of exchange, and networks of productivity. When these are present, the systems of food production, medical services, and education are created and maintained locally. Too often governments and other entities work to continue this exclusion of people local economic systems to lower the competition for their own services.
Community development is not just economic; a holistic approach is needed. The introduction of the gospel and the formation of communities of believers in an area furthers a mutual trust, community orientation, hope for the future, sound moral foundation, strong family orientation, personal responsibility, and respect for others that is a necessary foundation for development. Without these any solution will only be temporary at best.
For those looking for a two-week project for your church to end poverty or ideas to host a fundraiser to create awareness of a specific problem you’ll be disappointed in this series. For those looking to understand the foundation for community development and learn how many of our approaches actually cause harm this DVD series is worth watching.
The six parts:
- Charity that Hurts [25:25]
- The Entrepreneurial Calling [26:46]
- Justice for the Poor [26:58]
- Circles of Exchange [28:16]
- The Power of the Gospel [21:26]
- Churches, Communities and Culture [23:40]
I encourage you to visit the PovertyCure website here or order the series from the link below. It’s worth it.