Why Economic Security is the key to ending poverty

Having skills, resources, and resilience to withstand shocks

There are five major tools to end poverty: Quality Education, Access to Healthcare, Water and Sanitation, Economic Security and Child Participation. These are tools that will contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goal #1; end poverty in all its forms everywhere. The tools are especially important when the number of people below the poverty line has increased by over 120 million in sub- Saharan Africa between 1990 and 20151. Furthermore, the UN reports2 that the COVID-19 pandemic could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people or 8% of the total human population. South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will suffer the highest concentration of extreme poverty with an additional 23 million and 26 million people, respectively, that are expected to fall below the poverty line.
MEDA focuses on providing economic security to facilitate poverty reduction – especially in small-scale agri-food producers and processors. These groups could benefit greatly from systemic change by supporting them in improving their existing resources and opportunities.

Since climate change hits those living in poverty the hardest3, MEDA equips rural producers with climate-smart technologies and green-finance opportunities. This includes financing green assets, bridging the under-insurance gap and strengthening systems that improve individuals’ financial resilience. These actions will provide sustainable leverage and support net zero emissions throughout the economy.

While poverty often exacerbates gender inequality due to reduced access to food, healthcare, resources, and markets for women4, gender inequality is also a fundamental cause of poverty5. This is where MEDA’s Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) tools can improve women’s access to resources and markets. The GESI tools of skills training, policy and market access facilitation, social and market engagements and male gender champions can demonstrate how gender equality can contribute to achieving socioeconomic resilience and progress.

Figure 5: “If we are to eliminate poverty in emerging economies, we will have to resolve gender inequality first”

Poverty is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. To end poverty, we must focus on providing people living in poverty with the tools to gain economic security. We see economic security for people living in poverty as an essential way for them to gain basic access to healthcare, water/sanitation, sustainable food sources and greater opportunities for their children to participate and grow.

  1. Can We End Poverty by 2030? | United Nations University (unu.edu)
  2. UN Sustainable Development Goal 1: End Poverty | United Nations (un.org)
  3. Climate change hits the poor hardest. Here’s how to protect them | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)
  4. The link between gender inequality and poverty | Preen.ph (preen.ph)
  5. A Briefer: Gender Inequality Causes Poverty | USAID
    Linda Scott authored this brief under the Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality Technical Assistance Task Order in March 2021. The author’s views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) or the United States Government. This publication was produced for review by USAID. It was prepared by Banyan Global for the Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality Technical Assistance task order under the Advancing the Agenda of Gender Equality indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract.
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  • Nikesh Ghimire is the Technical Director of Financial Services at MEDA and provides technical leadership for MEDA across its various projects and delivery of support for financial services. Nikesh brings over 10 years of experience in senior roles within the banking system in small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) credit, marketing, digital finance and micro finance. Nikesh has directly overseen or supervised a team that managed portfolios in micro finance, SME finance, mid market and corporate finance. Nikesh brings additional five years of experience in the development sector in senior advisory roles for projects in Nepal, Pakistan, Myanmar, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ghana. Nikesh has led the inception and operation of a microfinance institution, two fin-techs and lead large teams in the financial sector towards introducing innovative new products, expanding to new markets and introducing new technologies to financial institutions.