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Defining well-being through the voices of the poor

an Egyptian perspective

Solava Ibrahim


The literature on well-being is diverse, however, many of the developed paradigms neither correspond to the actual well-being perceptions of the poor nor do they account for the cultural diversity in these well-being perceptions. This paper argues that the starting point for any development strategy should be a comprehensive understanding of people’s perceptions of well-being to help them constructively achieve this aspired well-being. The objectives and processes of development should be therefore embedded in people’s values and grounded in their experiences. Applying a new methodological tool to articulate these values in the Egyptian context, the paper presents selected results of a questionnaire which identifies how the poor in Egypt define well-being and explains the reasons for their success or failure in achieving this aspired well-being.  In sum, the paper seeks to explore ‘what the poor value’ and ‘the reasons for valuing these elements of a good life’. The paper’s main contribution is its adoption of a “grounded approach in conceptualizing and practicing development”. It encourages donors and policymakers to rethink their priorities by accounting for ‘what the poor value’ to design more relevant and effective policies that achieve progress that reflects in people’s lives. 

Publication Type(s)

Conference Paper

Ten Years of War Against Poverty Conference Papers

Conference: Ten Years of War Against Poverty


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