Alleviating Poverty for the World’s Poorest People

Global poverty can seem like a daunting challenge for any individual to tackle, but in 2002 Brisbane’s Geoff Armstrong decided to do just that. Starting out in his own garage although approaching retirement years, Geoff set up Global Development Group, with the goal of alleviating poverty for the world’s poorest people. He realised that many Australians want to help but don’t know how, while many capable development projects around the world lack the funds and support to make a difference. He used his years of experience in business and overseas work to partner with everyday Australians and capable project managers around the world to begin making a difference little by little.

Today Global Development Group (GDG) has grown to be one of the largest Australian-born NGOs, directly impacting the lives of over 1 million people each year (plus 4.2 million indirectly impacted). They work in 40 countries on over 200 different projects, tackling each community’s problems uniquely. They believe there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer to poverty, so each project is tailored specifically to the people they are working with. Some communities need clean water, some need quality education for their children, and some need small business training for adults. Every project is different, and always aims to address the biggest need.

GDG believes in working together with local organisations and communities to achieve big goals. Every one of their projects is done in partnership with a local organisation in the country they are working with. Their local project managers seek to ‘start where the community is at’ and empower them to utilise their existing resources, local knowledge, skills and materials. They seek to help build the community’s capacity for understanding, managing and eventually becoming responsible for their own development.

In Tanzania, GDG is doing just that. Founded in 2005, their Tanzanian School Milk Project is bringing big changes through simple methods: providing milk to school children.

Their main objective is to work with the local parents, teachers and the local dairy co-operatives to develop a regular school milk program. Each child receives a 250ml tetra pack of milk every day during their school break. Since the project started, teachers have observed improved health, alertness and school attendance in the children.

Not only does this impact the children’s health, but it also creates a reliable market for smallholder dairy farmers – alleviating poverty little by little. Most local farmers only have 1 to 5 dairy cattle, so selling school milk provides a regular income that has a flow on effect to their families and community.

In previous years this project has also worked with the local community to develop a sustainable energy source where electricity is inconsistent. To overcome this hurdle they developed a biogas program – generating biogas from livestock waste in specially constructed chambers, which is used to light their homes and use gas stovetops. For a community that used to rely on firewood and kerosene, this is revolutionary! It allows parents to spend their time making an income for their family, instead of using time to collect firewood.

This project is only one of hundreds impacting communities around the world. Now so many years later, Geoff and Global Development Group’s staff and partners work hard around the world to make a difference to the lives of millions of people. If you would like to be a part of this change, consider donating to one of their projects – a little bit goes a long way!

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