This chapter is concerned with rural poverty alleviation, as an important aspect of social development, and with which strategies are best suited to this task. Its central argument is that poor people’s perceptions of their own poverty often differ signifi cantly from the perceptions of outsiders. Hence, the designs of poverty alleviation strategies developed by outsiders are frequently found to be conceptually inappropriate and in practice unsuccessful in achieving their key objective of signifi cant poverty reduction. Outsiders usually design a top-down approach to poverty alleviation based on their own perceptions of the nature of the poverty in question. This chapter argues that when the alternative of a bottom-up approach is used, one which refl ects the people’s understanding of the nature of their poverty reality, the outcome can be much better and more sustainable.