Welfare state and Poverty in Flanders #2 First two decennia of 21st century

Poverty evolution in Flanders

First two decennia of 21st century

Map of Belgian municipalities with language fa...

Map of Belgian municipalities with language facilities for speakers of the minority language

The poor and their representative organisations were actively involved in most of the theme groups, which were established for welfare, youth, culture and sports, housing, health, education, employment and social renewal. But the poor had always to face the very difficult living conditions and urgent problems, which are time- and energy-consuming, and often hampered the commitment to participate in such dialogue. Local decision-makers, who often wait too long before opening up decision-making to the public, may be willing to let people participate, but they lack the knowledge and the skills to organise public participation effectively. Local decision-makers often expect citizens to participate by adopting “classical” ways of working, e.g. by providing written comments on printed documents, oral reactions in consultative meetings, comments on maps showing plans for the development of a district, not taking into account that several poor people lack a certain degree of education to be able to conform to that request. Many citizens, including the poor, are unfamiliar with these ways of working and the language used and meetings are not always geared to their needs. Knowledge of specific techniques for managing public participation may be lacking at the local level.

When the extreme right party Vlaams Blok (Today’s Blaams Belang) won in the general elections of May 1995 suddenly the parties took an interest in the ordinary people. They considered that the Vlaams Blok could find stronger roots in the urban neighbourhoods with concentrated poverty and dilapidated environments.

In 1999 a Centre against Poverty, Social Insecurity and Social Exclusion was founded for establishing the conditions for dialogue (which requires both time and commitment); coping with diversity (as the poor are not a homogeneous group); and raising the capacity of the poor to participate (e.g. by encouraging self-organisation by the poor and ensuring that the issues and conditions of dialogue are explained and understood).

The question of participation was found important at the beginning of the 21 st century, as it is linked with the right to integration and citizenship. Participation implies the recognition of people as fully-fledged citizens and assumes they can substantially contribute to the development of society. Participation therefore implies respect and the recognition that people are competent in all aspects of personal and social life. This competence is not static, but takes shape based on different (and sometimes contradictory) experiences and interpretations. This is true for all citizens.[1]

Several associations, such as A.T.D. “Vierde Wereld Vlaanderen” (“A.T.D. Fourth World Flanders”) and the “Beweging van Mensen met een Laag Inkomen en Kinderen” (“Movement of People with a Low Income and Children”) saw the light and reached a large group of poor people.

Een analyse van de Armoede in Vlaanderen door Marcus Ampe - Poverty in Flanders, an analysis by Marcus Ampe

[1] Engaging the poor in policy-making on poverty and social exclusion in Flanders (Belgium) by Anja Claeys

A site to visit:

  • Welfare Reform: Nothing New Under the Sun (dakotavoice.com) William Bradford looked in the Bible and found that God didn’t have much use for the socialist system, so Bradford ended it in the colony and instituted the free market system of private property. Suddenly, everyone had a self interest in working hard and doing well, as they would reap the rewards of their hard work…or reap the empty belly of their sloth. + As many people as possible made dependent on government largess so that it is easier to remain unemployed or under-employed.
  • Frum’s “two cheers” for the welfare state (professorbainbridge.com) In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ did not tell us to invoke the coercive power of the state to help the victim, he told us to do it ourselves. When one considers the track record of the welfare state, that advice seems well taken. + An argument could be made that if as a society we were to follow the teaching of the Parable, then the welfare state might make sense. Remember, Jesus also said, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” in response to whether Jews should pay the imperial tax. He also said, “what you do for the least of these, you do for me.” + Moving beyond the Christian teachings, … a conservative argument can be made in favor of the welfare system, thusly: a welfare system will help to promote stability within society. Stability is good for society because it decreases the possibility of revolution and chaos.
  • Maak het Verschil !!!a song in Dutch that nicely illustrates the call for social justiceWe have money, others do not – we have a house, others have sorrow
    We have food to sustain our lives – so we should share some of it with others
    I don’t want it anymore, all that sorrow – something has to happen for the world to see
    This time we need to do things differently, while we can – which would make the world a better place
    We have a car, others walk – we have clothes, others have hope
    They constantly have to be stealing things, while we surely can share things together
    Come on, think of others for a change
    So we can change the world completely!


    +Social justice is more than charitable aid. It means working for change in how the human family organizes itself politically and economically.

  • Sociale RechtvaardigheidSociale Rechtvaardigheid
    door Robert Poort… Benevolence and in the extenion of that social care provision, address on aid; social justice puts the question about which there are so many poor and needy, and strives then to change the structures that lie there at the foundation .  Benevolence and social care are accepted mostly in gratitude, call up till social justice are taken off mostly less in thanks, considered often even as offendingly…. Social justice strives to a fair society; a society in which the welfare of one does not goes to cost to the welfare of the others.  She puts the question about why there are  so many needy, and strives then to change those struktures that lie at the foundation of it.
  • Just for consideration. “Poverty still is the worst pollution, and by chosing a lifestyle one could also chose a cause of death…Christina Bay
    + The world population expands faster than food production. Although Western population growth has slowed down because we have a higher prosperity level, theThird World suffers from an unrestrained increase in population amounts.
    … Poverty in developing countries maintains the people surplus and food shortage. … food-scarcity is a matter of equal sharing. … Multiple Western organizations are struggling against poverty and for sustainable technologies.
    + The world-wide market is just so non-transparent that we in the West are simply not aware that our consumption pattern is destroying nature in developing countries. We do not see who or what is paying for our prosperity. It is just hypocrisy that we spend so much money on developing projects while we are indirectly responsible for the damage. > A letter to Thomas Robert Malthus
  • Hunger and World Poverty: Though there is plenty of food in the world for everyone about 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. This is one person every three and a half seconds, as you can see on this display. Unfortunately, it is children who die most often.

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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11 Responses to Welfare state and Poverty in Flanders #2 First two decennia of 21st century

  1. christinabay says:

    Hey, bedankt voor je ‘linking’ naar mijn blogposts!

    Vrijblijvende tip: je kunt een gratis abonnement aanvragen op Internationale Samenwerking. (http://www.ismagazine.nl/) Dit kritische magazine stelt alles op het gebied van IS, armoede, ontwikkeling, handel, milieu etc. aan de kaak, mocht je daar (nog meer) in geïnteresseerd zijn.


  2. marcusampe says:

    Hopelijk mogen meerdere mensen verder blijven doorlinken en zo samen werken aan meer kennis en vooruitgang.
    Van mijnentwege is een aanvraag op de maandelijkse uitgave van NCDO. NCDO hiermede op weg.


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