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Rural Poverty
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The extreme poor, like these pictured in India, are isolated in rural communities and often must travel long distances to find markets to sell their products or find work.

The largest portion of the world's poor is the 800 million poor women, children, and men who live in rural areas. They tend to live in remote areas that are great distances from the nearest markets and basic social services. They are mothers and fathers, most of who are day laborers, subsistence farmers, herders, and migrant workers. They struggle to meet basic everyday needs, such as feeding their families at least two meals a day, or taking their children to a clinic when they have fallen ill. The rural poor also work in insecure and relatively low-paying jobs, have little education, and may experience discrimination as women and as members of ethnic minorities.

For all of these reasons, the rural poor themselves say that they suffer from hunger, ill health, illiteracy, instability, and low self-esteem as well as marginalization from their own governments who are often unresponsive to their needs and concerns. Empowering the rural poor is a critical step in advancing any poverty alleviation effort. Doing so must build on a person's own willingness and capacities to provide for their family and to forge a more dignified, better future. This requires assets from which to build sustainable livelihoods, education about their rights and how to put those assets to good use, and a safe place to save to continue building those assets and to cope with future hardships. In fact, the most basic financial services reach only 10% of rural communities.

Below are rural poverty snapshots of some of the countries where Trickle Up works:

In India:

  • It is estimated that 70% of people in India live in rural areas.

  • In rural areas, poverty is associated with those in the lowest castes and indigenous tribes. The lowest castes, while a minority of the total rural population, account for as much as 80% of the rural poor.

  • The rural poor are located in those regions that are most prone to extreme climatic shifts. Both shortages of water in the summer, as well as floods during the monsoon seasons, exacerbate their poverty.

  • Trickle Up works in states with the highest levels of rural poverty: Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, and West Bengal.

In Guatemala:

  • Over half of Guatemala's population lives in rural areas, in contrast to the rest of Central America which is predominantly urban. 75% of this rural population lives in poverty.

  • Guatemala has the highest indigenous population in Central America, with 40-60% of the population identified as indigenous. Guatemala's indigenous peoples are economically and socially marginalized and suffer disproportionately high levels of poverty.

  • A legacy of violence following decades of civil war and more recently drug-trade related crime exacerbates poverty. Guatemala also has among the highest levels of inequality in the world.

  • Trickle Up works in the predominantly indigenous departments of Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz in the Central Highlands, where rural poverty rates are among the highest.

In Mali:

  • Fadimata Yacoumba, a Trickle Up participant in Mali, started the program in 2011.Mali is ranked the 5th poorest country in the world by the UN Human Development Index, and 76% of the rural population lives in poverty.

  • In the deserts of northern Mali where Trickle Up works, the figures tend to be even higher: 79% of Gao residents are poor, 77% of Tombouctou residents, and 76% of Mopti residents.

  • The north's relative isolation has resulted in it remaining economically underdeveloped with limited access to capital, markets, information, and other resources necessary for growth and development among the rural poor.

Trickle Up is committed to serving the rural poor and helping the poorest women ignite their opportunities, opportunities that can pave a way out of poverty. To climb further up the ladder toward economic security, and think beyond day-to-day survival, the women in our program learn basic financial skills like how to save every week, gain greater financial stability through an array of income generating activities, and build self-confidence in their ability to succeed. Trickle Up works one-on-one with the women we serve, providing them with seed capital in the form of a Trickle Up Spark Grant, business training, savings, and livelihood support. Our goal is simple: help poor women and men in the countries where we work earn their own living, improve their quality of life, and create a more stable, hopeful future for themselves and their families.
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