Volume 2 : Crying Out for Change

Second in a group of three volumes resulting from a global consultation and research effort. A multi-country research initiative to understand poverty from the eyes of the poor, the 'Voices of the Poor' project was undertaken to inform the World Bank's activities and the 'World Development Report 2000/2001'. 'Voices of the Poor' marks the first time such an exercise has been undertaken in so many developing countries and transition economies around the world. — Volume 1, 'Can Anyone Hear Us?' gathers the voices of over 40,000 poor women and men in 50 countries from the World Bank's participatory poverty assessments (Deepa Narayan, Raj Patel, Kai Schafft, Anne Rademacher, and Sarah Koch-Schulte, authors). — Volume 2, 'Crying Out for Change' pulls together new field work conducted in 1999 in 23 countries (Deepa Narayan, Robert Chambers, Meera Shah, and Patti Petesch, authors). — Volume 3, 'From Many Lands' offers regional patterns and country case-studies (Deepa Narayan and Patti Petesch, editors). 'Voices of the Poor' provides a unique and detailed picture of the life of the poor and explains the constraints poor people face to escape from poverty in a way that more traditional survey techniques do not capture well. Each of the three volumes demonstrates the importance of voice and power in poor people's definition of poverty. 'Voices of the Poor' concludes that we need to expand our conventional views of poverty which focus on income expenditure, education, and health to include measures of voice and empowerment. A copublication of the World Bank and Oxford University Press.

This book is the second in a trilogy of books on the issue of poverty and human development undertaken by the World Bank. It is estimated that there are 2.8 billion poor people around the world and this book will tell you stories about 20,000 of them from 23 countries in Africa and the Middle East (like Egypt and Zambia), Eastern Europe and Central Asia (like Bosnia and Uzbekistan), Latin America (like Argentina and Jamaica) and South and East Asia (like Bangladesh and Vietnam).

The idea began in 1998, planning during 1998 and field studies in 1999 with final reports targeted for the 2000 World Development Report. A very impressive and quick research study that in this book focus on well-being and ill-being, problems and priorities, role of institutions and the role of gender relations. For each of the 23 countries a national research team selected 8-15 communities to be representative of the target population of poor people with field interviews and studies performed in a short time span, sometimes under very stressful and sometimes dangerous situations.

The authors of this book then had to go through about 10,000 pages of field notes and national reports from 23 countries and make a useful and readable book out of it. They have really done a good and impressive job out of it. The pages are the stories of many experts on poverty, not from academics or universities, but from the mouth of the poor person him-or herself and there is a lot to learn. Seven themes for change emerge:

  1. From material poverty to adequate assets and livelihoods
  2. From isolation and poor infrastructure to access and services
  3. From illness and incapability to health, information and education
  4. From unequal and troubled gender relations to equity and harmony
  5. From fear and lack of protection to peace and security
  6. From exclusion and impotence to inclusion, organization and empowerment
  7. From corruption and abuse to honesty and fair treatment
  8. A powerful statement for change that we hope the World Bank will be instrumental in fullfilling, so that the dream of a world free of poverty can someday soon come true.