In 1974, Yunus was a professor at Chittagong University in Bangladesh, which at that time was experiencing a severe drought. Distressed at the suffering he saw around him, he began a program to increase food production in the fields near the university. He discovered that some potentially very useful water pumps had been installed by the government, but that the local farmers fought over the maintenance and operation of the pumps and eventually abandoned them. (Yunus, 2003, Chapter 3)
Unfortunately, although the government generously invested in modern irrigation technology, it did not provide the time, the resources, or the effort to resolve the people-centered problems such technology brought with it. “. . . [It was] yet another failure of misguided development.” (Yunus, 2003, p. 38)
Yunus started a program that was able to resolve these issues and resulted in the first crop ever grown during the dry season. It was a resounding success, but he discovered that while the farmers had benefited from the program, the farm labourers, the landless poorest of the poor, had not benefited at all. In fact, he realized that aid in general nearly always missed these people. (Yunus, 2003, Chapter 3) (International development programs in rural areas always focus on farmers and landowners) (Yunus, 2003, p. 40). He decided to focus instead on the landless poor.
[W]herever a poverty alleviation program allowed the nonpoor to be co-passengers, the poor would soon be elbowed out of the program by those that were better off. “. . . In such cases, the nonpoor reap the benefits of all that is done in the name of the poor.” (Yunus, 2003, p. 42)
Yunus was beginning to realize that a different approach was needed.
Read More: It’s Their Own Fault If They Are Poor – Jared Diamond and Western (Cargo) – Ineffective Aid – Muhammad Yunus and Microcredit – Unscrupulous People – The System – Grameen Bank – It Doesn’t Affect Us, So Why Should We Care? – The Poor Will Always Be With Us – There Is No Point In Giving Aid – Where Does All The Money Go? – Africa’s Onerous Challenges – Africa’s Extreme Poverty – Corruption and Poor Governance – Lack of Modern Values and Free Market Economies – A Population Explosion? – Why Not Leave It to the United Nations and the World’s Governments? – The UN – The Governments of the World – Grassroots Movements