Steps towards making poverty a thing of the past

Felipe Valencia-Dongo is a Peruvian One Young World Ambassador, who currently works as an Advisor to the Minister of Education of Peru. Felipe has also worked for the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion of Peru, and for The Grameen Creative Lab in Colombia. He is part of the Global Shapers of the World Economic Forum.


One day, our grandchildren will go to museums to see what poverty was like.” – Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate


Today, one billion people are living in poverty. That is one in every seven people in the world. Although the percentage of people living in poverty has decreased over the past few decades, poverty remains a significant problem facing the global community. Having worked in a number of institutions fighting for equal opportunity and poverty reduction, here is my insight into ways in which we can work towards a world with less poverty.

(1) Use evidence-based interventions

Fighting poverty is not just about good intentions. In today’s digital world, we have more evidence about what has worked and what has not in the fight against poverty than ever before, and information and evidence need to form the foundations of our interventions. Abhijit V Banerjee and Esther Duflo, both professors of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-authored an acclaimed book, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, which shows us the power of using evidence-based interventions in poverty-reduction. However, we do need to be aware that conclusions drawn from results in one country or context may not apply elsewhere.

(2) Get into public policy

Getting into public policy is an incredibly important part of ending poverty, and it is crucial for today’s youth to make their voices heard at government level. Public policy can be a frustrating and slow process, but there is no doubt that it is worth pursuing. By having a role in shaping public policy, young people can positively impact the lives of millions of people. In recent years, there has been a notable increase in entrepreneurs focusing on social issues and the impact they have. This has helped shape a new generation of people willing to work every day to tackle the most pressing social issues of our societies. Public policy is the perfect space to build on these results, and we need social entrepreneurs to apply their passion and expertise within this sphere.

(3) Combine actions

Poverty reduction requires a combination of actions that can drive both short- and long-term change. Initiatives such as Conditional Cash Transfers, which make welfare conditional upon the recipient’s actions, are proven to be an effective tool for poverty alleviation, and have been shown to increase school attendance and improve medical access. However, to increase their effectiveness, they need to be combined with substantial educational and health reforms that enhance the quality and availability of public services for everybody.

Get rid of the pot

When you plant the best seed of the tallest tree in a flower-pot, you get a replica of the tallest tree, only inches tall. There is nothing wrong with the seed you planted, only the soil-base that is too inadequate. Poor people are bonsai people. There is nothing wrong in their seeds. Simply, society never gave them the base to grow on.” – Professor Muhammad Yunus

The ultimate goal of all our societies should be to provide enough opportunities for everyone to become who they want to be, to develop their talents and to unleash their potential, for the benefit of economies and individuals around the world. The use of evidence-based interventions, combined actions and efforts in the public policy sphere can help us to get out of poverty pots.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the institution he works or has worked for.