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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

From Theory to Reality: Mechanizing Development Theory to End Extreme Poverty in Eastern Zambia
by Elder, Elyse, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2017, 93; 13871624
Abstract (Summary)

The history of social and economic development includes multiple theories including Gross National Product (GNP), utilities, basic needs, and capabilities. How these approaches have been mechanized to implement development programs on the ground varies and has created tension between theoreticians and people searching for tangible answers to development needs. While the literature features detailed explorations into the “what” question on the definition of development, there is much less research on “how” this knowledge can be utilized. This paper postulates a response by using the capability approach and scarcity theory to analyze the success of the social enterprise COMACO (Community Markets for Conservation) in eastern Zambia. It demonstrates how the two theories can be used in tandem to create relative abundance among small-scale farmers living in poverty. Case study research was conducted in the Luangwa Valley, a significant area of eastern Zambia whose inhabitants suffer from poverty-related conditions such as stunting, starvation, environmental degradation, and resource loss. Using information gathered over a period over three months from interviews and observation of the COMACO model, this case study demonstrates that modest infusions of funds at critical times of the year help to make farmers food secure. Once farmers do not face starvation, they will make better long-term economic decisions that serve to improve their levels of income security, their health, and their chance at providing an opportunity for an education to their children. The success of the COMACO model is unconsciously founded upon both scarcity theory’s premise that relieving the mental burden created by poverty will lead to positive long-term financial decisions, and the capability approach’s themes of empowerment and agency. By synthesizing both theories, this paper creates a bridge between development theory and practice that can create sustainable change in impoverished peoples’ lives.

Indexing (document details)
School: The American University of Paris (France)
School Location: France
Source: MAI 58/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: African Studies, Economic theory
Keywords: Capability approach, Development, Scarcity theory, Social enterprise, Zambia
Publication Number: 13871624
ISBN: 978-1-392-03774-4
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