The extreme poor face the challenge of accessing much needed public services including health care, education, agricultural support, legal services and a variety of social safety nets. While the poorest have a great need and as much right as the less poor to access public services, and virtually no ability to procure alternatives, they lack the awareness, influence or confidence to demand their entitlement. Providers often discriminate against extremely poor people not only because many of them are minorities, but also because they are in no position to bribe or to complain. Their complete lack of voice allows others to exclude them.
Furthermore extremely poor communities often live in remote, hard-to-reach areas where many government services do not venture, and their own lack of mobility means they often have to forgo the services available to those who are better located or more mobile. Finally, the extreme poor lack awareness of their entitlements, and often do not even know how to go about accessing their service entitlement.
In a situation where there are in any case not enough services to go round, the extreme poor are the most likely to lose out again and again. While the lack of resources is a large part of the challenge, better targeting and collaboration with NGOs could help local government service providers reach larger portions of the extreme poor. Access to basic services is an underlying requirement for a secure and stable livelihood and family well-being.
What should be done to address this challenge?
Shiree is currently consulting with stakeholders and recognized experts in this field in order to develop a consolidated list of priority recommendations that can form the core prescriptive element of the Manifesto for the Extreme Poor – with the aim of these being presented to all of those with potential access to power and resources. The consultation deadline is fixed for September 30, 2012, after which the Manifesto will be drafted.