Enhancing the Capabilities of the most Vulnerable: Pilot Project on inequalities in Human Development in Bamako and Accra
How can a capability based approach help explain the widening gap in development and what insights can be derived to combat poverty efficiently?


Combating poverty is central to all discourse on development efforts, yet the gap between the better-off and those left behind is widening. The project team argues with others that the causes of this failure are to be found in the incapacity of taking into account the multidimensionality of poverty and the reasons for its unequal distribution among individuals. The Capability Approach (CA) provides a framework for going beyond a mere economic definition of poverty and a focus on lack of resources, to explore the unequal ability of people to access existing resources and use them for «living the life they have reason to value».

In the framework of the Human Development and Capability Association, poor quality of life is not seen as a simple result of the lack of local resources, but stems from multiple factors that gives individuals more or less access to these resources with more or less ability to exploit them. It highlights the situation of individuals at a given point, their potential for achievement, i.e. their freedom to achieve (agency freedom), as well as the achievement of their goal (agency achievement).

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Research team

Claudine Sauvain-Dugerdil
University of Geneva

Allan Hill
Harvard University

Enrica Chiappero-Martinetti
Principal Member
Università degli studi di Pavia

Samba Diop
Associated Member
University of Bamako

Werner Haug
Associated Member
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Fatoumata Sidibe
Associated Member
Direction Nationale de la Population Bamako

Mamadou Souncalo Traore
Associated Member
University of Bamako