By Narayan, Deepa, Ed.; Petesch, Patti, Ed.

This book, the last volume in a three-part series, draws on a large-scale worldwide poverty study to present the views, experiences, and aspirations of poor people in 14 selected countries. In each country, interviews and discussion groups were held in 8-15 rural and urban communities that reflected the most prevalent poverty groups and the diversity of poverty in that country. The countries are Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kyrgyz Republic, Russian Federation, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, and Jamaica. The chapters bring to life the peculiarities of what it means to be poor in various communities, including the perceived global, local, and environmental causes of poverty; the contributions of governments, institutions, and community organizations to well-being or their lack; the struggle for education; poor health conditions; discrimination and violence against women; child welfare, child labor, and young people’s loss of hope; and survival strategies. Despite very different regions and contexts, four major themes emerged: (1) the diversity of assets and capabilities needed by poor people to survive and overcome poverty; (2) the profound impact of economy-wide policies and shocks on poor people’s lives; (3) the negative effects of the culture of mediating institutions on well-intended policies; and (4) the persistence of gender inequity in households and societies, and the acute vulnerability of children in struggling households. Policy recommendations focus on reversing state failure to reduce poverty and human suffering. Appendices present development indicators for the 14 countries, currency exchange rates, and an overview of study themes and methods. (SV)