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Traditional approaches to fighting poverty have yielded unsatisfactory results in some African countries, and have been positively damaging in others. Economic growth and social expenditure on the part of both national governments and international donors have been ineffective in some countries, while in others they have exacerbated poverty. The author considers that this is due to the absence of participatory governance. From a theoretical perspective, support for participatory governance stems from Amartya Sen’s approach to understanding poverty, which conceptualises poverty as a lack of capabilities, leading to social exclusion. The lack of such governance has led to the failure of traditional approaches in the fight against poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, the author proposes a tool for assessing the quality of governance, and its application in Cameroon.

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