Strength in numbers

March 12, 2008

Poor people are often at great risk of losing the few assets they have when faced with an unexpected event, such as the death of a household member.

But for the members of the Kalagala Twezimbe Association, located outside Kampala, Uganda, working together enables them to cope better when such “shocks” occur. By pooling their time and talents, and by contributing funds to the Association, all members stand to benefit in times of need. When a member dies, the Association assists the family with costly burial expenses and helps them purchase and prepare food during the bereavement period. For those without close relatives in the community, such as orphans, the Association pays for their burial expenses.

With more than 370 men and women members, working together also offers a way out of poverty. The Association has expanded its activities beyond assisting members with burial arrangements. As a registered community-based organization, it is involved in several income-generating activities, such as renting out their cooking pans, plates, tables and other catering equipment for use at weddings, birthday celebrations, and graduations. The profits earned are used to further along the Association’s work, which includes constructing fuel-saving cooking stoves, providing entrepreneurship development, raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, and offering grief counseling.

The Kalagala Twezimbe Association is just one example among many of how poor people and other disadvantaged groups throughout the developing world are banding together to build social networks that can help improve their livelihoods.

To learn more about IFPRI research on the linkages between collective action and poverty reduction, visit