Segregation between the Poor and the Rich

Published 06 Dec 2016


The term segregation creates a distinction between one group of people from another, this is normally based on the skin color, facial features and the hair texture and economic stability, it normally vary depending on the culture, and social economic factors in the society. The relationship between the poor and the rich in our world is shrinking especially in our cities. Whereby, we find various groups of people who are classified as follows; the capitalists these are those people who need cheap labor and infrastructure, the poor migrants who need jobs and a minimal secure housing and the public officials who need to juggle larger resource agendas and still get re-elected, these three types of people may not understand each other very well, but their interdependence is the most fundamental factor in their development in modern cities.


Though it is hard to define a living process with so much experimentation and so many flavors, many people come up with ideas claiming that, the gap piding the poor and the rich is getting wider, as the process of development brings prosperity for some but further marginalizes the poor, it is found that the cases on urban insecurity, violence and environmental deterioration are going up and up, while the breakdown of neighborhoods, communities and families is eroding the social fabric which makes various cities decent places to live. This case is seen as a major mess in the living standards of people in many communities.

Although, there are the rich and the poor at every scale, within the communities, cities, countries and regions and that in every context, it is generally the rich who are said to take the prerogative to solve problems and in this case of cities whereby, solutions put forward by the rich have not worked at all, but have made much harsher the poor peoples burden. While issues on infrastructure, real estate and investments get discussed in the cities, the problem of the urban poor get neglected, causing the inter-depended equations to get even more lopsided and the poor are sent back to where they started from their normal problems.

These problems are always seen to be occurring on a daily basis as a result of the non-involvement of the poor in decision making. Meaning that, there are no solutions that work for the poor and that if there were, communities would already be using them. Most externally propagated alternatives are not providing the kind of solutions that were anticipated. It is argued that the development interventions which sought to deal with a single issue, no matter how well designed, they have not been able to deal with the reality that human beings have needs that are multi-faceted and interconnected needs, which can be resolved in discrete bits. Although very few resources get allocated to the problems affecting the poor, they get withdrawn when the poor people fail to participate in change processes which either scare them away or seem useless.

We can count on cities expanding rapidly in the new millennium and also we can count on the increase in the number of the poor in the cities. Therefore, there are many questions on how to shake off this tradition which excludes the poor from participating in the exploration and testing of solutions which affects their own lives. And how to help these poor communities to replace the isolation of despair with the kind of solidarity and stamina they need to work towards such solutions this discussion presents a way forward to have poor people given a chance to participate in decision making for their development.


On the other hand, various development activists have come up with their own views on the poor and the rich. They argue that, exchange and exposure are terms to be used in building up relationships of trust and partnership across distances, where teaching and learning from each other becomes a natural way of strengthening self-worth. They claim that exchange is normally the root strategy for education and mobilization of the poor and by the poor.

However, in the last few years, the kinds of exchange between the poor people were rare. There are increasing numbers of poor community groups moving around visiting each other, in their own cities and countries, also there are an increasing number of support organizations hustling to make this possible. But more and more development activists are welcoming this newly expanding and increasingly welcoming the exchange system as a new development tool. what exchange does is that it links the like minded people across distances, which involves the exchange of administrators, politicians and development professionals who move out of their own situations to learn, to meet peers and to fortify themselves with fresh ideas from elsewhere. The only problem faced by these activists is that the poor are not improving their lot better because they lack skills and that if they are trained in skills they will be able to stop the suffering and start prospering.

According to researchers, the issues which inhibit the poor from participating in the economy and getting access to resources go way beyond managerial and technical skills and back to the old exclusion and bad planning by the rich. It is said that, the poor have the skills and the best solutions of all, but the only thing they lack is space and support to explore and refine them. In exchange, people do not get trained to do things; it is proven to be a useful isolation buster, confidence booster, option expander and a network builder. It represents a collective commitment of organizations of the poor to communicate with each other, examine their problems, set priorities and explore solutions to use each others’ ideas, through which they evaluate, refine the solutions and then spread them to other people.

The kinds of explorations, invariably mean working with other development activists, including the state governments, non-governmental organizations and bilateral development agencies, in which exchange is also a powerful builder of networks and working alliances with sufficient scale to strengthen the representation of the poor in development debates and also to expand the roles that the poor can play in bringing about equity and social justice. Whereby, the large networks, which exchanges create, become a channel for direct, rapid transfer of ideas, strategies and options.


If poor communities are going to participate centrally in the development processes which affect them, there has to be a process of education in an organization and mobilization to prepare them. So that when they face a problem, they need to understand that problem and then examine all the available options, in the context of their own life and of the larger social environment. Under exchange nobody feels solely responsible for anybody else’s welfare or happiness or intellectuals’ evolution. Each one is pretty much responsible for his or her education. Therefore the governments should empower the poor by improving the internal governance structures, finance management systems, skills knowledge and abilities.

Promote linkages, learning and dialogue between the poor and support the formation of umbrella groups that can effectively negotiate member interests with outside activists. Support the participation of the poor particularly women, in all governance and policy formulation mechanisms both in local government and the administration, this would include schools and health committees.

Promote an active culture that emphasizes the right to formation and support the developmental activists to demand information from all sectors including government, other Non-Governmental organisations in order to promote local accountability to the poor. The government should create an enabling environment which will influence change in policies, laws and institutions at national and international levels that is representative and protective of the interests of the poor and marginalized people.


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  • Lupton, R. & Power, A. (2002): Social Exclusion & Neighborhoods. In Understanding
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