A post on the World Economic Forum (WEF) site introduces Martin Burt, founder and CEO of Fundación Paraguaya, the microfinance organization that developed the Poverty Stoplight assessment tool now being used in 18 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa to alleviate poverty.
The tool gives poor people a way to self-diagnose their own level of poverty by taking a 30-minute online survey using a smartphone or other Internet-enabled device.
"For the first time, a family in a poor slum or a rural village has the capacity to take stock of their own situation, which is very empowering," notes Burt.
He adds: "Once that household’s deprivations are visualized in the dashboard, the family creates a customized plan to prioritize their problems and overcome them with the help of existing resources in the community."
One family may have an income gap or mobility problems that are holding them back; their neighbors may have entirely different challenges. But Burt says the key in this approach is for families to take ownership of their situation and devise their own customized plan to rectify it.
"This plan is the family’s responsibility," he says in the WEF post. "Our responsibility is to share those patterns with existing service providers in the community – NGOs who make wheelchairs or agencies that do sanitation hook-ups, for example, who can lend their support without having to take ownership of that household’s overall situation."
Private sector gets involved
The Poverty Stoplight tool has been around for several years now and Burt notes that corporations are using it to help bring their employees out of poverty. His organization
"We are persuading corporations, factories and companies to move beyond corporate social responsibility to eliminate the poverty of their factory workers, or their coffee growers, or whatever employees they may have," Burt said. As of last fall, he said 42 corporations in Paraguay had signed up. Fundación Paraguaya is working with companies in other countries too.
Governments love it
As Burt explains it, Poverty Stoplight data gives government agencies access to other side of service delivery – what outcomes really are.
"When government decision-makers see a Google map overlay of our Poverty Stoplight respondents, with different filters for which families are reporting undernourishment, which families are not vaccinated, which families do not have birth certificates for their children, they love it," Burt said. They can use the granular data to refocus the efforts of their social workers, for example.
Learn more about the Poverty Stoplight tool in the video below. You'll find additional information on the tool, including an application manual, here.