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close this bookIncome Generation Schemes for the Urban Poor (Oxfam, 1990, 144 p.)
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View the documentPreface
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Open this folder and view contentsPart I - Poverty and interventions
Open this folder and view contentsPart II - Some key issues in income generation interventions
Open this folder and view contentsPart III - Guidelines on business organisation
Open this folder and view contentsPart IV - General guidelines for interveners
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Preface

This book is the result of a research project undertaken by Oxfam to examine some of the many issues raised by our own and other agencies' income generation interventions in urban areas of the Third World. This area of development work is one in need of considerable study and thought as approaches to it are very varied (even contradictory) and the issues it raises are complex and of great importance to those trying to assist poor people in their initiatives against poverty. We have found that experience of income generation interventions has been very mixed, and has too often been, in some respects, an experience of failure.

This book is aimed at people who design and implement income generation interventions in non-governmental organisations, in grassroots co-operatives and other groups, in funding agencies and in government departments. It is one of a series of 'Development Guidelines' published by Oxfam and intended for people working in various fields of development. Although the emphasis is on general principles, aiming to engage readers in a process of reflection, at the same time we have given considerable attention to practical detail and methods and there is an annotated bibliography that includes manuals on the technical aspects of income generation, such as business and group organisation, financial management, training and credit schemes. We have tried to keep the book as short as possible and to write it in a style accessible to readers without formal training in business or economics.

This topic is one which is riven with controversies and we have tried to treat these in an open and evaluative manner, in an attempt to make them clearer and explain their relevance in decision making. The use of the terms 'intervention' and 'interveners' are deliberate; development agencies involved in income generation intervene in an already existing situation, of poor people trying to obtain a livelihood, and do so by assisting the initiatives of poor people, for example by helping them to improve existing skills or join together to increase their economic and political power. The aim should be to ensure that the initiatives will eventually be self-sustaining and economically viable.

The research that forms the basis of this book involved visits by Donnacadh Hurley to agencies and income generation interventions in India, Kenya and Ethiopia; similar visits by Brian Pratt to Sudan and Egypt; commissioned work by Teobaldo Pinzas on income generation interventions in Peru, Bolivia and Chile; initial background research work in Oxfam House by Rosamund Oddie; information supplied by Mira

Savara; document and information searches by June Stephen and Joan Turner in the Oxfam library; a day workshop on 'Urban work in Africa', organised by Donnacadh Hurley and Steve Duke, and comments given on the original manuscript by many people especially, Malcolm Harper, Trevor Bottomley, Rosemary Thorpe, Linda Mayoux and Han de Groot, amongst others.

We are grateful to the Leverhulme Trust who gave generous financial support for the research for this manual. Special thanks must, of course, go to participants and interveners alike in all the countries visited who gave up time to discuss and evaluate their work with researchers, show them around and offer much warm hospitality.

NOTE: We have opted for the term 'Third World' to describe the countries in which Oxfam works, because although this terminology is in itself unsatisfactory, it is in our view, slightly preferable to developing' or 'underdeveloped'. Its use does not imply either a blurring of the differences between individual countries or an acceptance of a divided rather than an interdependent world. We hope readers will understand that we use it as a short way of referring to countries which have certain important features in common.