Our intent

A recent report by The World Bank states that low income countries are lagging behind in lifting people out of poverty. Statistics show 400 million children are living in extreme poverty, one third of those living in abysmal conditions today. Access to basic services pose a huge problem, only 26% have access to clean water, 49% have access to electricity compared to 87% above the $1.25 poverty line and a staggering 20% have access to basic sanitation.

We need to act urgently, and with a sharpened focus, to implement effective policies in places where poverty remains entrenched, particularly rural areas... Accelerating the pace of poverty reduction in low income countries represents a moral imperative. There is no time for complacency.
— J. Saavedra, World Bank Acting Vice President of Poverty Reduction and Economic Management
(Photo: J. Ashbridge)

(Photo: J. Ashbridge)

So what is the most appropriate course of action? There are essentially two camps. One suggests,

poor countries are poor because they are hot, infertile, malaria infested, often landlocked; this makes it hard for them to be productive without an initial large investment to help them deal with these endemic problems
— Poor Economics

Jeffrey Sachs (advisor to the UN and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York City) would argue that this is a ‘poverty trap’ as such countries are unable to pay for these investments precisely because they are poor. Neither democracy nor free markets can offer a solution... foreign aid is a key kick-start to a beneficial spiral. The other belief is that aid is more of a hindrance than a help. It,

prevents people from searching for their own solutions, while corrupting and undermining local institutions and creating a self-perpetuating lobby of aid agencies
— Poor Economics

William Easterly (Professor of Economics at New York University and co-director of NYU’s Development Research Institute) and Dambisa Moyo (author of Dead Aid and previous consultant at The World Bank and Goldman Sachs) would argue that the very notion of a ‘poverty trap’ is a myth, people can and will solve their own problems. The very fact that we cannot come to an agreement suggests that the situation cannot be summed up so neatly.

Poverty alleviation can seem insurmountable. The challenges are wide ranging, intertwined and incredibly complex. Where do we start? Where should we start?  

We believe the answer is in the detail. AzuKo is a new organisation which seeks to improve lives through community driven, research based design initiatives that are sensitive to local contexts in areas with limited assets. We believe there are no shortcuts to successful, sustainable development. Research holds the key. This approach must be participatory to ensure capacities and capabilities of all those involved, particularly beneficiaries, are recognised. Working with an open source mindset we believe in the power of design to enact positive change.

AzuKo is currently seeking corporate sponsorship. Investment will directly support the development of projects which target the global challenges faced by communities today. We have a lot to learn, but let us not be turned away by the challenge.


Author: J. Ashbridge