Targeted poverty reduction programmes, advocated in contemporary poverty orthodoxy, heighten the importance of poverty information. Two divergent tendencies are discernible: tightened-up targeting through narrowed eligibility criteria; and a new epistemology of poverty based on qualitative and participatory methods. Statistical and qualitative analysis of findings from research in rural Colombia shows that the former approach is less "technical, objective, equitable and uniform" than it purports to be; and that the latter is more valid than is often appreciated. A good compromise is to combine the two and apply them in a spirit of "self-critical epistemological awareness" (Chambers 1997).


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