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Poor Economics – tackling global poverty – or not

Poor Economics, which champions radical new ways of tackling global poverty, is the 2011 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year.

The topics examined include food supply, health, education, population, business risk, savings, entrepreneurship, microfinance, and political economy. But seemingly there is nothing said about land tenure – or if there is, it has been well buried. Considering how obvious it is that land, like air and water, is necessary for all human activity, this is more than a little omission, as is made clear in this video.

Lack of access to land turned out to be one reason for the disappointing results achieved by the Katine project, sponsored by the Guardian newspaper, which ran for three years from 2007. Katine, a poor village in a poor area of Uganda, was selected for a package of initiatives covering health, education and agricultural development. But as some of the villagers had land and others did not, the latter inevitably missed out.

Successful development can only happen when everyone has access to land on equal terms. That is the hard fact. It would help to stop talking about this thing called “global poverty”. Not only does it make the issue seem daunting and impossible to deal with; it also directs attention from the fact that the solution is literally under our feet.