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Global Infrastructure, Development & International Finance Agency


Problems are systemic in nature. However, it would seem that the vast majority of solutions, be they in the form of government assistance, government enforcement or even from the most well-intentioned NGOs and other charitable organizations, seek to “cure” symptoms. Therein lies the crux of the bigger problems. Symptoms cannot be cured, they can only be alleviated ... temporarily soothed. Only the disease itself can be cured. If the symptoms are relieved, such relief will only be temporary in nature and will, tragically, in the end, do nothing to help the person suffering ... and in many cases, allows the disease to fester and grow to the point where it may be virtually impossible to cure it. If problems are indeed systemic in nature, so too then, the solutions must also be systemic. Thus, the approach of GIDIFA for alleviating the suffering of the poor, the indigent and the other underclass citizens, focuses on systemic solutions that cure the disease at the same time it alleviates the suffering from the symptoms.

What does all that mean in terms of ending poverty? Poverty is caused by a complex series of events that seems to be self-replicating en perpetuity. Poverty cannot be eradicated by merely alleviating the symptoms. Feeding programs may be great for offering some consolation to those who are starving, but they are still just as likely to wake up hungry and lacking the next day as they were the day before. Homelessness cannot be eradicated by merely providing housing for them and leaving them effectively to their own devices. Providing someone with emergency medical care does not help them out without some kind of program in place to provide for long term care. Likewise, a visit or two from a tutor is not going to solve any educational issues when the educational system is out of reach for so many people. All of these problems are systemic in nature and all of them require complete systems in place to resolve the cause of the problems, not just to alleviate the symptoms.

The approach by GIDIFA is to clearly define the problem areas all the way back to their root cause. In this way, a more complete picture of the problem can be seen and a more complete solution can be devised and implemented. Very little can be accomplished if the people are starving, thus, food becomes a necessity ... not just a meal, but ready access to groceries and a sufficient level of food to feed the individual and/or family well. This solution alone however, would not be sufficient to cure the problem. A home is necessary so that the people have something to come home to and a place to call their own. None of this matters any at all though, if there is not a means in place to provide sustainable support. That means that education and training are necessary. This leads back into the same loop where all the training is not going to help any without the tools and opportunities for gainful employment. Not the least of concerns by any means, none of this means anything if people are sick or dying or even unduly suffering from despicable diseases such as alcoholism, drug or gambling addictions or other mentally and physically debilitating diseases.

By clearly identifying all of the symptoms individually and accurately identifying the underlying cause(s), viable, meaningful and long-term solutions can be implemented and people can be put on the road to recovery and ultimately, poverty really can be fully eradicated. This may sound like something of an outrageous concept or belief, but the requisite systems of support are already in place, but not utilizing a coordinated and comprehensive means of working together to provide a packaged solution. Even if these systems were all put together and did begin providing a complete system of support, there would still be additional problems. Enough maneuvering room must be provided for the system to allow for the necessary adjustments when these projects are up, operating and put into place in real-world environments. Thus, the ultimate solution must also be adaptive in nature.

It was once said that “In theory, there is no difference between ‘In Theory’ and ‘In Practice’. In practice, real-world variables appear that create a world of difference between Theory and Practice!” When programs are put into place, there are still going to be a great many variables that arise that have not been accounted for. Bureaucracy is great for what it does but these programs and projects need to be much more flexible (or adaptive) in nature if they are to be successful. Thus, organizations like GIDIFA are much more ideally suited to the task at hand. GIDIFA has contracts and people in place to properly build and manage the Community Developments where these programs will first be implemented in their entirety. The leaders within these community developments will have all of the necessary power to make the tough decisions and to allow for certain flexibility within these programs. Perhaps more important however, is the power that the people will have to directly address and influence the decisions as shall be made by those in a position of power and authority. Thus, yet again, a nation like the Philippines is the ideal location for just such a venture and certainly in need of ending the scourge of poverty among its people.

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