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Seminar 2 - Power and the Social Dimensions of Poverty

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 11:46 AM

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Seminar 2: Power and the Social Dimensions of Poverty & Natural Resource Management

This seminar focuses on improving participants’ understanding of power and social capital, and their dynamic, mediating effect on natural resources management and poverty reduction at multiple levels — from the farm to the policy boardroom. In exploring levels of inequality and power related to the natural environment, we will encourage participants to think in more nuanced and complex fashions regarding labels used by USAID and many development practitioners such as “the poor”, “traditionally marginalized people”, “women”, “local communities”, and “indigenous groups”. How does our use and internalization of terms such as “pro-poor” impact our programming in poverty reduction and natural resources management, especially given that rural people in many locations may be cash-poor but resource-rich in terms of their social capital and networks?

Building on the participants’ own experiences and expectations, this seminar will use a workshop format to explore our understandings of power and social (in)equality and to discuss the implications for our day-to-day work. With valuable insights and reflections from two experienced practitioners, participants will use a case study and small group work to analyze possible programmatic responses to a natural resource management and poverty reduction challenge.

At the end of the session, participants will be able to:

Define the following terms and their relation to poverty reduction and natural resource management:

  • Participation and empowerment
  • Social capital
  • Decentralization

Relate these terms and concepts to their respective USAID roles and responsibilities.

Facilitators will be Ruth Meinzen-Dick from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and USAID’s Margaret Sarles in the Office of Democracy & Governance; Democracy, Conflict & Humanitarian Assistance Bureau.


Reading List


  • An example of looking at a stakeholder in a case study, through the lens of clientelism: SWAPO (12KB PDF).


  • Akin L. Mabogunje and Robert W. Kates. January 2004. Sustainable Development in Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria: the role of social capital, participation, and science and technology. CID Working Paper No. 102. Center for International Development, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. 22p.


Seminar Series

1: Links between NRM & Poverty?

2: Power & the Social Dimensions

3: Assets, Poverty Traps and Rights

4: Markets and Trade

5: Migration, Marginal Lands

6: Key Macro and National Level Issues

7: Programmatic Issues and Tools

8: Conflict, Corruption, NRM & Poverty Reduction


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