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Your Questions!

Why do so many international development programs fail?

An estimated 1 in 9 people live in poverty on our planet.

That’s about 729 million people, and the number is growing as more vulnerable people have slid into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Tearfund we believe the solution to poverty is more than physical, it’s spiritual too. Many international development efforts focus on the physical/material elements of poverty without looking at social, emotional and spiritual aspects of poverty.

There are many reasons why poverty alleviation programs may fail, but one common reason is that the needs of local communities are never considered. Handouts, whether financial or food-based, are often brought to communities without consultation of local leaders or organizations.

This is part of a short-term mindset that fails to empower people, and only provide what outsiders think is needed. Many people with good intentions have created harm by dropping off aid, and leaving without uncovering and understanding what is causing systemic, cyclical poverty. You can check out our When Helping Hurts resource to learn more.

At Tearfund, our approach is different. Instead of handouts, we create sustainable development through the local church, led by local people. But, it’s more than empowering people to help them overcome poverty. It’s about loving our neighbours and joining God in his Kingdom-building, life-giving mission.

Want to learn more about our impact? Check out our 2020 Impact Report to see the difference made by our Canadian donors and our local church partners!

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