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Oportunidades – a critical analysis

December 5, 2012

My colleague Martina Ulrichs and myself have just published a new IDS/CSP Working Paper entitled  ‘Equal opportunities for all? – A critical analysis of Mexico’s Oportunidades’. In this paper, we discuss Mexico’s well-known conditional cash transfer programme in relation to indigenous people in Mexico. By doing so, we challenge the programme’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to implementation and delivery and also the assumptions that are implicit in the programme’s theory of change. We argue that in order for the programme to have a real and sustainable impact on indigenous people, it needs to be more recognisant of the particular challenges this group faces in terms of remoteness and access of high quality services and the structural, rather than individual, causes of poverty.

In a post on the blog of the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction team at IDS, we elaborate on the critique that many social protection programmes are predicated on an individual understanding of poverty and thereby overlook the structural and macro-economic factors that lock individuals and households in poverty. We conclude that social protection only be effective in combating poverty in the long-term if it goes hand in hand with more comprehensive social policy agendas that go beyond the individual and address the root causes of inequality and poverty.

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