Former ADRA Worker Critiques Poverty Eradication Rhetoric in New Book
15 May 2018 | Adam Kis, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Adventist-run Burman University in Lacombe, Alberta, has just published a book critiquing common rhetoric by NGOs and non-profits that claim that poverty is close to being eradicated. In his book, “The Development Trap: How Thinking Big Fails the Poor,” the former Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) worker argues that many development industry voices underestimate poverty and are unrealistic to think they can solve such an entrenched problem.
“Underestimating your opponent is a dangerous thing and the same holds true in international development. Poverty is your opponent and if you underestimate it, you’re going to get slammed to the mat,” said Kis at his book launch on the campus of Burman University.
“For 70-75 years people have been saying we’re on the cusp of eradicating poverty…fundraising campaigns based on saying ‘we’re almost there, give us more money and we can eradicate poverty’ are starting to have diminishing returns.”
According to lacombeglobe.com, Kis called for more localized approaches to fighting poverty on an individual, family or community level. He argued that this more micro approach enjoys better results.
“We’ve tried a lot of different strategies over the years, and each has its merits, but none of them are a panacea and none of them will definitely eradicate poverty,” said Kis. “Development is a worthwhile enterprise. Helping people who are suffering is a good thing to do, but we need to do it smartly.”
Kis said that the concept for his new book came while he was working for ADRA in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the time he was reading a lot of experts on poverty eradication and noted the uniqueness of his view that poverty could not be solved completely and the best approach was to focus on smaller scale projects.