The aim of this thesis is to show that poverty alleviation strategies need to be implemented more efficiently and urgently, despite the ongoing work of individual governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private foundations, and public-private partnerships, because the problem persists and is widespread and growing. These strategies include political, economic, and socio-cultural measures such as holding the leaders more accountable to the populace, creating better employment opportunities, and expanding access to educational and training facilities. The scope is the first decade of the twenty-first century and covers five countries: Bangladesh, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Zimbabwe. These countries have been selected because they represent a cross-section of poverty-stricken nations that can be helped by the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals to halve absolute poverty by 2015.
The thesis is organized in six parts. Chapter I: Introduction, entitled “Background Information on Poverty and on the Countries Selected,” begins with definitions of poverty, data on each country, and the role of religion in poverty alleviation. It also notes how poverty was handled in Europe and stresses that fighting poverty is not an impossible task. Chapter II, “Poverty in the 21st Century and in the Countries Studied,” discusses the location of poverty in the five countries, provides a list of the UN Millennium Development Goals, and deals with how they apply to the poverty problem in Bangladesh, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Zimbabwe. Chapter III, “The Causes of Poverty,” examines the economic, environmental, and socio-cultural reasons behind poverty. Chapter IV, “The Adverse Effects of Poverty,” deals with the wide-spread repercussions from this problem while Chapter V, “The Political, Economic, and Socio-Cultural Imperatives for Reducing Poverty,” argues the main reasons why the fight against poverty must be waged. Chapter VI: Conclusion, “Recommendations for Poverty Alleviation,” first lists four solutions that can be applied effectively: expanding political participation; increasing educational opportunities; improving healthcare; promoting microcredit and partnerships with multi-national corporations. Then, this last chapter evaluates the effectiveness of these recommendations and notes that change for the better is possible.