As the old saying goes,
Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for life.
This is the basis for Muslim Aid’s micro-enterprise programme that has become among the most effective tools for reducing poverty. By supporting such activities, the poor are provided with the necessary skills to help themselves.
It is accepted fact that there is often an inadequate supply of basic services and supply for the poor – such as food, health and money – and the solution may not be entirely on the supply side. A more effective solution may be found in raising the low levels of effective demand among the poor by raising their incomes.
One effective way that improves access of the poor to supply and services is to promote employment-generation programmes that allow them to raise their income sufficiently to create this greater effective demand and for them to obtain them through a variety of sources. This can be implemented, for example, by designing programmes to generate as much employment as possible for the beneficiaries of the intended supply and services.
The strategy of Muslim Aid, attempts to make improvement in ways that will build the skills and raise the incomes of people – especially women – living in the neighbourhoods where the supply and services will be delivered. Neighbourhood women can be trained, for example, to help run day-care and preschool centres, and community residents can be trained as semi-professional health workers to staff neighbourhood clinics or family planning centres.
Employment can also be generated for the poor by developing service extension projects that include components for the participation of local small-scale industries, and offering assistance that will expand small-scale enterprises in and near poor neighbourhoods. Community facilities such as clinics, hospitals, prenatal and childcare stations, and elementary schools, for example, could be planned so that they can use indigenous materials and components such as pipes, electrical accessories, cement blocks, bricks and lumber, which can easily be produced by small-scale enterprises in the area where the facilities will be constructed, and that use local contractors and labours.
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