Amid all the complicated economic theories about the causes and solutions to poverty, one idea is so basic it seems radical: just give money to the poor. Despite its skeptics, researchers have found again and again that cash transfers given to significant portions of the population transform the lives of recipients. Countries from Mexico to South Africa to Indonesia are giving money directly to the poor and discovering that they use it wisely - to send their children to school, to start a business and to feed their families. Directly challenging an aid industry that thrives on complexity and mystification, with highly paid consultants designing ever more complicated projects, Just Give Money to the Poor offers the elegant southern alternative - bypass governments and NGOs and let the poor decide how to use their money. Stressing that cash transfers are not charity or a safety net, the authors draw an outline of effective practices that work precisely because they are regular, guaranteed and fair. This book, the first to report on this quiet revolution in an accessible way, is essential reading for policymakers, students of international development and anyone yearning for an alternative to traditional poverty-alleviation methods.
Joseph Hanlon is senior lecturer in development and conflict resolution at the Open University and visiting senior research fellow at the LSE. He is a journalist and author or editor of more than a dozen books. A former journalist on New Scientist and then policy advisor for Jubilee 2000, he is a specialist in making complex technical issues lucid and accessible. Armando Barrientos, Research Director at the Brooks World Poverty Institute of the University of Manchester, is the world expert on cash transfers and social protection. He is a senior researcher at the Chronic Poverty Research Centre, which gives him access to the most up-to-date and unpublished literature on cash transfers. David Hulme is Professor of Development Studies and Founder-Director of the Chronic Poverty Research Centre and the Brooks World Poverty Institute, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester.