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Civic Engagement as The Key for Poverty Reduction

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Contemporary development approaches perceive civic engagement as one of the key ingredients for poverty reduction. Effort to stimulate community development through participation is to address the increasing poverty and disempowerment that accompanied the modernistic development discourse. The intention of civic engagement in development policy and practice is to promote the active engagement of individuals working in collectives to change problematic conditions as well as influence policies and programs that affect the quality of their lives or the lives of others. The concept of civic engagement is used in policy circles and in this essay is defined how civic engagement can reduce poverty. 

The word ‘poverty’ derives from French word ‘pauvre’ meaning poor. Poverty means not having enough money for basic needs such as food, water, shelter or toilets. It means the state of lacking material possessions of having little or no means to support oneself.

Civic engagement is assumed in policy circles as the main channel for the active involvement of community members in shaping the outcomes of the development projects. For Kaufman and Alfonso, effective civic engagement may lead to social and personal empowerment, economic development, and socio-political transformation. The potential of civic engagement in reversing power relations and providing the poor with agency and voice is well noted in the development literature. As such most development projects are expected to have some modicum of civic engagement revealing the widespread appeal for civic engagement in contemporary development thinking and practice.

Civic engagement is a widely used concept in development policy and practice. Civic engagement in development practice puts emphasis on getting community members involved in the entire planning process from project initiation to closure. Structures of civic engagement create social capital for community engagement as well as motivate people to get involved in the affairs of their communities. The role of community members in shaping the outcomes of development projects is critical for the success of development intervention and possibly for poverty reduction.

Civic engagement has featured very prominently in development is poverty reduction and rural development. Cornwall and Coehlo writes that the concepts of participation and poverty reduction carry the allure of optimism and purpose and has shaped development discourse and policy for some time now. A growing body of evidence confirms Cornwall and Brook assertion that civic engagement in development projects leads to poverty reduction and sustainable development. Specifically, civic engagement empowers the poor by building their capacity through skills training to actively engage with the development process. Active empowerment in community activities often leads to the empowerment of local community members.

Participation and empowerment are mutually reinforcing. For Labonté and Laverack, empowerment is the process by which people gain control over the factors and decisions that shape their lives. The empowering effects of civic engagement in poverty reduction manifest at the individual and collective levels. At the individual level, giving people the knowledge, skills and confidence to address their own needs and advocate on their own behalf improves their capacity for collective. Participation in collective action gives individuals the resources to exercise agency through voice. Empowering people through capacity building increases the likelihood of their participation in community activities. Increased levels of empowerment allow the community to have influence over things that matter and obtain power over decisions, enabling them to move from powerless non-participants to active and effective citizens. Community empowerment goes beyond consultation and information sharing and offers the possibility for active involvement in the decision-making process. 

In conclusion, civic engagement is an important tool in the fight against poverty. It can increase access to resources and services, build social networks and community cohesion, and promote policies and programs that can help to reduce poverty. Encouraging and empowering citizens to be active in their communities can have a significant impact on improving the well-being of individuals and communities.

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Civic Engagement as the Key for Poverty Reduction. (2023, February 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from
“Civic Engagement as the Key for Poverty Reduction.” GradesFixer, 11 Feb. 2023,
Civic Engagement as the Key for Poverty Reduction. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Mar. 2023].
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