These reflections arise from two related concerns. First, the worsening conditions of poverty in poor countries despite numerous development projects by governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) aimed at improving lives of poor people. Second, the phenomenon of parallelism (or even hostility) between development and human rights programmes, at least in Kenya.
The core questions I reflect upon here are: what possible strategies for change lie beyond the formal socio-economic approaches and models used in official poverty reduction programmes? What can “rights approaches” offer and what can be learned from the emergence of social movements for rights in the struggle against poverty? My reflections are based upon study visits to Haiti and the Philippines and on the experience of Kenya, with a focus on the relationship between struggles for social reforms, human rights and the fight against poverty.
In an effort to strike a balance between description and reflection in limited space, my observations are organised into three sections. First, a brief account is provided of the evolution and role of rights struggles and social movements in Kenya, Haiti and the Philippines. Second, I share a theoretical framework based on the notion of competing paradigms, exploring the role of social movements in relation to mainstream development and human rights programmes. In the third section, I conclude with a summary of significant lessons, including my personal reflections on poverty and its solutions.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 36.1 (2005) Beyond Approaches and Models: Reflections on Rights and Social Movements in Kenya, Haiti and the Philippines