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What Do the Poor Value? Exploring the Social Well-being and the Elements of a Good Life of the Poor in Egypt Dr. Solava Ibrahim Brooks World Poverty Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "What Do the Poor Value? Exploring the Social Well-being and the Elements of a Good Life of the Poor in Egypt Dr. Solava Ibrahim Brooks World Poverty Institute."— Presentation transcript:

1 What Do the Poor Value? Exploring the Social Well-being and the Elements of a Good Life of the Poor in Egypt Dr. Solava Ibrahim Brooks World Poverty Institute and Chronic Poverty Research Centre The University of Manchester

2 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Is It enough that Development Policies score highly in Macro-indicators or should these Policies enhance the Actual and Perceived Well-being of the Poor?

3 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Development processes should be embedded in peoples values and grounded in their experiences. Policymakers need to rethink their priorities, account for what the poor value and design more relevant and effective policies that promote the capabilities of the poor.. Main Argument

4 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Why is the CA a suitable framework for assessing well-being? 2. How can the Values of the Poor be articulated? 3. What do the Poor Value? – Elements of a Good Life 4. Why are Social Relations important for the Poor? 5. Why is it difficult for the Poor to engage in Collective Action? 6. What does all this mean for Policymakers? Key Questions

5 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Why is the CA a suitable Framework for assessing Well-being? 1

6 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Putting Freedom at the Centre Accounting for Inter-cultural and Inter-personal variations Broadening the Informational Space of Well-being Emphasizing Social Justice and Equality Calling for Democratic Processes and Public Discussions Capability Approach as Conceptual Framework for Well-being Assessment

7 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov How can the Values of the Poor be articulated? 2

8 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Instead of going to the Southern field to test Northern theories, the methodology needs to generate a list of what the poor value in each cultural and social context.

9 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov 2010 Methodologies developed to articulate Well-being Perceptions: e.g. Narayan et.al., 2000a; 2000b; WeD group in Bath, Clark, 2002; Semerci, 2004; Anand, Hunter and Smith 2005; Anand and van Hees, Take the ideas of the poor seriously Generate a list of elements of a good life through deliberative processes A Person who is not Poor who pronounces on what matters to those who are Poor is in a Trap (Chambers, 1997, 163) How can the Values of the Poor be articulated?

10 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov 2010 There is an URGENT need to build a database of the Poors Voices! Why are these Studies – one-offs?

11 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov The Starting Point is the Definition of a Capability: the various freedoms or choices that a person values and has reason to value

12 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Capability Functioning Conversion Factors 1.Do you value………? 2.Why do you value……..? 3. Have you succeeded in achieving ………..? 4. Why have/havent you succeeded in achieving.? Exploring the Poors Values and Achievements

13 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov General Well-being: Life Satisfaction, Elements of a Good Life, Poors Problems, Unfulfilled Capabilities Material Well-being: Income, Education, Employment, Health, Housing, Transportation, Safety Social Well-being: Social respect and Fair Treatment, Family and Friends, Communal trust, Relationship with formal institutions (the state, NGOs and religious organizations), Political freedom Mental Well-being: Leisure and Free Time, Life Planning, Fears and Worries. Missing Dimensions: Completing any missing Dimensions of Well-being through the Voices of the Poor Exploring Different Well-being Dimensions

14 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Two Fieldwork Sites: Manshiet Nasser: Poorest Urban Slum in Cairo Menia: Rural Villages in Upper Egypt Sampling: Stratified Random Sampling: Age and Gender Snowballing Applying the New Methodology: Egypt as Case Study

15 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov What do the Poor Value? Elements of a Good Life 3

16 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Elements of a Good Life Belief in God 23.8 Income 15.0 Housing 10.0 Peace of Mind/Satisfaction 8.8 Jobs 7.5 Family 7.5 Children 6.3 Health 3.8 Partner 3.8 Education 3.8 Safe Surrounding (local and national) 3.8 Social Relations/Engagement 2.5 Personal Traits 2.5 Food 1.3 Total 100.0

17 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Do the Poors Perceptions of Well-being differ across Regions and Societies?

18 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Elements of a Good Life: Rural vs. Urban Manshiet Nasser (urban slum) Menia (rural villages) 1. Belief in God 2. Income / Housing2. Income 3. Peace of Mind and Satisfaction / Jobs 3. Family 4. Education/ Safe surrounding4. Children 5. Social Engagement/ Good Partner 5. Peace of Mind/Satisfaction/ Housing 6. Health/ Family/ Children/ Food 6. Health/Good Character/ Jobs/Good Partner

19 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Elements of a Good Life (My General list) Elements of a Good Life (Clark, 2002, 172) 1. Income1. Jobs 2. Belief in God2. Housing 3. Jobs 3. Education 4. Happy Family4. Income 5. Housing5. Good Family 6. Social Relations/ Peace of Mind/Satisfaction 6. Living a religious/Christian life Elements of a Good Life: Egypt vs. South Africa

20 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Why are Social Relations important for the Poor? 4

21 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov 2010 Intrinsic Reasons: Natural importance: human beings are social by nature; Social capital as compensation for material deprivation Religious blessing: Love is from God. Jesus taught us, love thy neighbour as thyself. Instrumental Reasons: Mutual support: Family (52.5%), Family and Friends (13.8%), Friends (7.5%), Neighbours (2.5%) Catalysts for Social Mobility, esp. bridging social capital Economic functions, e.g. finding jobs & exchanging skills Spill-over effect on other Capabilities, e.g. education. Valuing Social Relations

22 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov 2010 Instrumental Reasons: Enhancing psychological well-being: life without people is like a paradise that no one would wish to enter. Problem sharing, esp. for women Promoting feelings of self-worth Heritage that the poor can leave for their children: having good social relations allows me to leave a good legacy for my children after I die. Social relations are important not only for economic reasons, but also for enhancing the social and mental well-being of the poor and their feelings of security. Valuing Social Relations

23 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Why is difficult for the Poor to engage in Collective Action? 5

24 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov 2010 Why is Collective Action Difficult? Given Limited Time, Self-interest First working hours render collective action rather difficult as people work day and night Self-interested Cooperation Only people expect something in return from collective action Lack of Communal Trust people betray each other these days!

25 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov 2010 Why is Collective Action Difficult? A Culture of Collective Action? people are not used to undertaking collective action Mistrusting the Government working with political parties only serves these parties, not the public No Belief in a Common Goal everyone has his/her own ideas and believes they are right

26 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov 2010 Reasons for Limited Collective Action Lack of Awareness Lack of Funds Unable to Appear in Public without Shame Husbands Refusal

27 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov 2010 Participation in Collective Action: Yes! Sense of Belonging to their Area people see that there is something wrong with their area and they want to fix it Religious/ Moral Motives people participate to get reward from God Support of External Actors & Local Leaders the elderly encourage us to act collectively NGO projects make people get used to collective activities

28 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov What does all this mean for Policymakers? 6

29 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Policymakers need to: (1)Prioritize the elements of a good life that the poor value, (2) Design policies that help the poor tap on social relations, (3) Encourage the poor to undertake acts of collective action. However, how is this possible in practice?

30 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Do not assume that we know what the poor value or want 2. Do not claim that the poor do not know what is good for them. If the poor do not know what is good for them, then we will definitely not know either! 3. Do not only undertake philosophical or empirical explorations of well-being, these explorations should be grounded and based on the voices of the poor. 4. Do not reject the capability approach, it can be a wider and more comprehensive framework for well-being assessment. 5. Do not exclude qualitative methods just because they are more difficult to implement, but rather build up new qualitative databases. Policy Implications

31 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov 2010 Do not design irrelevant policies. Policies should address what the poor value e.g. in Egypt four key policy areas: income, jobs, family and housing. Do not assess the effectiveness of policies solely by macro- indicators. Policies should be assessed by the extent to which they help the poor achieve what they value. Do not only identify the elements the poor value, but also understand why the poor value these elements. For example, if the poor value employment for intrinsic reasons, providing them with unemployment allowance is not enough for enhancing their well-being. Policy Implications

32 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov 2010 Do not undermine the importance of social relations, but carefully assess the impact of policies on them and examine how they can improve the effectiveness of policies. Do not leave the poor with no systems of support, instead work on strengthening possible means of supporting them, e.g. through religious and civil society organizations. Do not assume the poor cannot undertake collective action, but rather understand the importance of sequencing for the success of collective action among the poor: Improve their living conditions first Work with local and religious leaders and the elderly in poor communities Target the youth Do not dominate! Donors and NGOs should be facilitators between the state and the poor to build a real and equal partnership between them. Policy Implications

33 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov 2010 Conclusion Need to Learn to Listen to the Voices of the Poor, Respect what They value and Build on their Human Agency

34 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Thank You

35 DSA 2010 Conference Solava Ibrahim 5 Nov Questions or Comments ?


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