SEATTLE— Psychology has shown that getting big projects finished requires a careful balance of focus on the goal and on specific tasks within the goal. For extreme poverty, USAID has taken this into account with their Extreme Possibilities campaign.
A study on this perspective balance captured the idea, “Think of it like a 100 hundred metres runner. Moments before the race they look off into the distance, in the general direction of the finish line. Moments after the starting gun fires they stare down at the ground…Smoothly the head comes up, then, towards the end of the race, they have just one focus: the line.”
In 1998, one out of every two people lived in extreme poverty. Once USAID and other organizations got involved, by the year 2010 this number was cut in half. Now, it seems that the time has come to focus on the finish line: 2030.
“Once tasks are easier or the end is in sight, a goal focus is once again the psychological approach to choose. It increases positive emotion, decreases negative emotion and increases perceived performance,” concludes a recent psychological research study.
To help USAID supporters and sponsors focus on the end goal of eradicating extreme poverty, they have changed their focus to Extreme Possibilities.
By sharing success stories and changing perspective, USAID is boosting morale and bringing more excitement to the cause.
On the new Extreme Possibilities page, their new development model is displayed. “USAID is forging high-impact partnerships to harness innovation and scale meaningful results…This new model of development promotes local ownership, leverages private investment, spurs innovation, harnesses scientific and technological advances, and demands the results and accountability that will enable us to meet today’s critical development challenges.”
Along with this new model, the Extreme Possibilities focus campaign shares many stories of how individuals have been helped out of poverty and become self-sufficient. Such stories are the focus of inspiring further change to meet the goal of 2030.
One such story shares the journey of a Palestinian farmer. Osama Abu Al-Rub was one of the first twenty farmers to begin planting strawberries in the West Bank. However, starting out in the traditional way did not produce much success.
In 2013, Osama became one of a handful of West Bank growers to receive USAID support, as part of the Compete project, to boost the strawberry sector and other targeted parts of the Palestinian economy. With the assistance, Osama started to use greenhouses with special soil and lifted the berries themselves off the ground in order to protect the fruit. Now, he can barely keep up with the demand for his strawberries.
These stories have showed how USAID projects are benefitting the people in a way that puts them on their feet and increases the overall economy.
Osama was one of the first to benefit from the Compete project. Since then, more progress has been made. In two years, the Compete project trained 1,700 Palestinian farmers and in 2014, the Palestinian agriculture sector increased the value of exports by $24 million compared to the previous year.
Taking a step back from the label of extreme poverty has shown the possibilities of the future when proper investments, not charity acts, are made. With continued persistence the Extreme Possibilities campaign should introduce the proper perspective in order to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.