Images of Poverty | Seen only at "Arms Length"
Most people who read this article will be domiciled in a ‘developed’ country, likely to be middle classed, and have a perspective that poverty alleviation is best countered by ‘charity’. Often, our social conscience is triggered by visual images of the scale of human suffering after a calamitous event, and wanes somewhat over subsequent months.
Misgivings Surrounding Sensational Charitable Actions.
attribution : Michael Ocas Archives, Mail Online
Daily Mail 26th May 2013
Despite good intentions, and without analysing the why’s & how’s, a question hangs over aid operations that occur suddenly, and on a massive scale. It is clear that the massive outpouring of aid from ordinary people during the ‘Live Aid’ campaign, did not result in the alleviation of any long term suffering of the Ethiopian people. Indeed, there are valid arguments that propose that even in the short term, as much human suffering was caused by that act of charity, as was actually alleviated.
The Greatest Achievements ..... Don't Attract Headlines
Which really validates the adage about the ‘fish’ and the ‘fishing rod’. Over the long term, the best mechanism to alleviate poverty is by the gradual implementation of economic mechanisms into communities. There are a multitude of academic papers that highlight the lifting of living standards of the poor by the introduction of a ‘means’, along with supporting infrastructure, allowing them to labour towards their own betterment. Work carried out through such organisations as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) goes largely unnoticed because such work does not create stirring headlines.
What ? Tourism and Poverty Alleviation.
So what does tourism have to do with poverty alleviation. Actually, as a mechanism it can achieve a huge amount. With the commodification of tourism, there is a growing percentage of travellers who desire to undertake travel that is more authentic, and which is off the beaten track. Invariably, these destinations are located within developing nations, and involve societies that have been largely undiluted by western values and norms. This demand exists now within the tourism industry, and does not need to be created. There is the opportunity for communities to fill a niche within this demand, by promoting and featuring their culture and landscapes to visitors.
HOW? Meeting the 'Challenge'.
Of course, the greatest attraction for tourists travelling to far-flung places is the very fact that those destinations know little about ‘outsiders’, nor for that matter anything about tourism or hospitality. For their part, travellers want to experience and participate in the road less travelled, but not to be constantly ‘up close and personal’. Visitors want to have an occasional taste of the food, and see how villagers live, but do not generally want to be immersed in it 24/7. Therefore, the challenge is to provide services and facilities at a basic community level that satisfy the needs of both host and visitor.
The tangible benefits are dealt with in a subsequent article, but the critical point is that provided uptake occurs in an appropriate manner, a community can climb out of poverty, in a way that reinforces identity and empowers their culture and beliefs.
Why? Poverty Alleviation by Giving Respect.
Therefore, the need is to provide communities with a knowledge of hospitality service, along with advice regarding relevant accommodation and culinary expectations of their likely visitors. Communities themselves will take on board what they deem acceptable within their custom, traditions and cultural perspective. Ultimately, both the communities and the visiting travellers will gain rewarding experiences and associations as a consequence.