SEATTLE — Perhaps the most pernicious characteristic of poverty is its ability to corner families and individuals into a low standard of living for the long term. Without a means of finding employment, or even dinner for that matter, escaping poverty can be an impossible feat.
Further, businesses are hesitant to join forces with anti-poverty initiatives as they tend to not generate a great deal of revenue. A cheap initiative to facilitate upward mobility for the poor is necessary in moving towards a solution to poverty.
In Paraguay, social entrepreneur and founder of Fundación Paraguaya Martin Burt created a possible solution. Through an online 30-minute survey, families can trace their own poverty map and develop and implement a clear plan to overcome it. The survey is known as the Poverty Stoplight. This tool has been used in 18 countries and has attracted global attention from the private sector.
Technologies such as Burt’s Poverty Stoplight have been changing poverty reduction platforms in the modern age. In this case, technology enables people to self-diagnose their own level of poverty in 30 minutes using a smartphone or a tablet. Traditionally, tests similar to this survey required a government official to administer and evaluate the results. The Poverty Stoplight removes this middle man and allows a streamlined survey to assess and plan on an individual basis.
The results gathered from the survey include details on whether families have access to proper sanitation, whether their children have been vaccinated and 48 other components. Not only is the system simple and accessible, but the customized plans allow individuals to get unique plans that will work with their needs and environment.
Some questions that the survey intends to provoke include “What are my priorities?” and “Who has resources available in the community who can help me?” With the information gathered from surveys, Poverty Stoplight is able to determine need in specific areas. For example, if access to wheelchairs is of high concern based on survey results, NGOs providing wheelchairs will be able to use that data to help address the problem.
Overall, the mobility and low barrier of entry of the Poverty Stoplight can help speed its success. As this industry grows in the coming years, there could be significant changes in the ways local communities and global powers fight poverty.
– Sarah Coiro