Millennium Development Goals: People living in Extreme Poverty Speak Out

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From March 2011 to September 2013, an ATD Fourth World participatory action-research project, involving people living in extreme poverty, seeks to assess the impact of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) on those most affected by the issue.

The research will take place in eight countries: Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mauritius, the Philippines, Haïti, Bolivia, Brazil and Belgium. The project aims to provide people living in extreme poverty with the means to contribute their experience and knowledge to efforts to achieve human rights and evaluate the MDGs. It will also identify ways in which policies and actions can benefit people living in extreme poverty, within the framework of the MDGs and beyond the 2015 deadline, in order to make progress towards "a world governance where decision-making is centred on real participation of the people in extreme poverty, and goals are centred on the eradication of extreme poverty. [1] The work will also serve towards developing a global framework for after the MDG deadline in 2015, with a coalition of NGOs, within the Beyond 2015 Campaign.

Participants to the project will be grassroots actors and facilitators, and academics and practitioners from different sectors (education, health, law, public sector and international organisations). The majority of the grassroots actors are already engaged in ATD Fourth World projects at a local level, and they will help the newer members to participate in the action-research.

The evaluation of the MDGs will be done in two stages:

  • ATD Fourth World teams will provide people living in extreme poverty with a space for exchanges, where they can discuss their experiences and expertise, and evaluate whether the policies and projects have had an impact on their daily lives, and how to improve possible impact.
  • Academics, policy-makers and practicioners from different disciplines will examine policies and projects set up by the national governement towards obtaining the MDGs, and will discuss their findings with the grassroots participants.
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The work on assessing the MDGs in each country will be the result of discussions and workshops using the merging of knowledge approach between these two groups. There will also be a final seminar of several days, in order to develop common conclusions and formulate recommendations on ways to achieve the MDGs within the 2015 deadline, as well as policies to be implemented after 2015.

ATD Fourth World will be working closely with representatives of other NGOs, UNICEF, UNDP, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the African Union, in order to associate them with the planned seminars and debate as the project develops.

Within the framework of the project, videos will be made on how people living in chronic poverty participate in society, and more specifically in this participatory action-research. These will be made available on a website, with further documentation and findings as the project develops. Publication of findings will be available in a full report, containing analyses and recommendations, and summaries in English, French and Spanish. These reports will be shared with the UN at an international seminar in New York in June 2013, before the high level UN summit meeting on the MDGs, planned for September 2013.

For more information:

Matt Davies: matt.davies(@)

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participatory action-research project financed by Fondation Charles Leopold Mayer pour le Progrès de l’Homme,

[1] "Proposal Paper, “Extreme Poverty and World Governance” Forum for a new World Governance and ATD Fourth World, December 2010. (


Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated.
To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.

Joseph Wresinski

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