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Has Civil Society Helped the Poor? A Review of the Roles and Contributions of Civil Society to Poverty Reduction
This paper sets out to explore the achievements of civil society in the area of poverty reduction. The focus is mainly on three domains: 1) Advocacy; 2) Policy change and 3) Service delivery. Three case studies illustrate how poverty can be addressed at various levels through different approaches. 1) Shack Dwellers International (SDI) operating internationally to advocate for the urbanpoor's rights; 2) CSOs participating in the formulation of PRSPs to call for pro-poor policy reforms at the national level; and finally 3) the example of BRAC (formerly the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), providing services to the poorest at the grassroots level. Drawing on these case studies, the paper explains the keys to success and reasons for failure of CSOs in tackling poverty reduction effectively. It concludes by pointing out the challenges faced by civil society in the area of poverty reduction and presents recommendations on 'what is still missing' for civil society to play a more effective role in poverty reduction.