By definition, virtually all development interventions contain a welfare element. This welfare element involves the subsidized provision to a marginalized group or community by an external agency, physical, human, and/or social capital. Where marginalization is compounded by some type of natural disaster or civil conflict, the welfare element is justifiably high. Where impoverishment is less acute and more chronic, it is generally held that the welfare element should be minimized to avoid dependency and attack underlying structural constraints. However, it is clear that even mature southern nongovernmental organization’s development interventions involve some welfare element (see, Lovell, 1992). Indeed, the widely adopted micro-credit approach generally requires some external subsidy (Yaron, 1994). As the distinction between relief and development intervention becomes blurred, a more helpful way to type responses to impoverishment is needed. This paper suggests a continuum is more useful way of understanding various humanitarian responses: ranging from welfare-dominant, including material assistance for immediate need (e.g., provision of food), material assistance for intermediate need (e.g., provision of seed), through provision of social services (e.g., primary health-care education), single component interventions (e.g., micro-credit), integrated interventions (e.g., sub-sector promotion or microenterprise credit), to development- or self-reliance-dominant, via capacity building of new community networks and norms (i.e., building new forms of social capital). Then the paper sets out to analyse these approaches in terms of poverty and gender reach, operational costs, direct impact, secondary impact through growth linkages, and institutional sustainability.
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