Research team widjajanti i. suharyo (coordinator) syaikhu usman, sri kusumastuti rahayu, sri budiyati, sulton mawardi, alma arief, herry widjanarko abstract this study is a consolidation of participatory poverty assessments (ppas) and similar studies which were carried out in 79 locations in Indonesia. these ppa/ppa-like studies were conducted by several organizations between 1999 and 2003. the aim of this study is to enrich the understanding of poverty, by providing an analysis based upon the perspective of the poor, and provide input for the formulation of the national poverty reduction strategy paper (prsp). the analysis in this study encompasses community perspectives of: the characteristics of poverty, the causes and problems of poverty, the solutions to poverty, the impact of poverty and the poor's coping strategies, the role of several institutions, and the effectiveness of poverty reduction programs. the method of this study combines a content analysis of field reports from ppa/ppa-like studies and a frequency analysis. these analyses reveal general poverty issues, and differences in poverty conditions in urban and rural areas, in western and eastern Indonesia, in communities with different livelihoods, as well as between young and old, and between men and women. the results of this study reaffirm the complexity of the poverty phenomenon, which is influenced by several interrelated factors. more specifically, the results of this study indicate the subjectiveness of communities in identifying poverty as opposed to the methods of measuring poverty used by the government. this study reveals that powerlessness factors are dominant causes of poverty. in addition to material poverty, which was most frequently considered to be the cause of poverty, isolation factors also played a major role. this study also shows that there is a need to change the paradigm of the Indonesian education system, and to increase the poor's access to education, employment opportunities, and business opportunities. other important findings were the high dependency of the poor upon traditional social networks and the insignificant role of several poverty reduction programs in assisting the poor. based upon this analysis, this study provides several recommendations which essentially propose that the national prsp should be an integrated and interrelated effort to systematically eradicate the factors which hinder the poor's access to a better life.