This article argues that the practice of poverty alleviation is greatly limited by a vision of poverty that fails to capture the locally specific causes of and solutions to the challenges that threaten human well-being. This problematic vision of poverty takes real-world form in such initiatives as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. It is a key reason why this and other contemporary poverty-alleviation efforts do not show greatly improved results compared with previous efforts. By reframing our understanding of the challenges to human well-being from poverty to ‘poverties’, however, we might envisage a new approach to policy development in relation to poverty that moves us towards a truly sustainable development.
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