Angharad Thomas seems to think so. Here is another post in the series of “Is Design about …”.
Design, Poverty, and Sustainable Development, Angharad Thomas
Design in a poor context, or for the alleviation of poverty, has received little or no attention. An informal discourse analysis shows that design and poverty have not been linked, the two being seen as mutually exclusive. This paper aims to examine the relationships between design and designers, poverty and the poor, and sustainable development, which aims to alleviate poverty.
You can download the full paper by typing this in google search – <angharad thomas, design, poverty>.