Tuesday, March 15, 2005
The End of Poverty
TIME magazine had a great cover article recently based on an excerpt from a book by Jeffrey Sachs (director of the U.N.'s Millenium Project which is committed to reducing global poverty by half within ten years) entitled The End of Poverty. In it Sachs gives a practical, achievable vision for how we could end extreme poverty in the world (defined as the nearly 1 billion people who live on less than $1/day). He identifies what he calls the "Big Five" development interventions that could transform life for people in some of the world's poorest villages and regions. They are:

1. Boosting Agriculture - with fertilizers, cover crops, irrigation, improved seeds, natural insecticides, and improved storage facilities, allowing each village to produce enough to provide for it's own needs.

2. Improving Basic Health - by establishing village health clinics, providing free anti-malarial netting and medicines, and drugs to fight the complications of HIV/AIDS.

3. Investing in Education - by providing meals for school children, expanding the vocational training to teach skills of modern farming, computer literacy, carpentry, etc.

4. Bringing Power - to villages to power lights (for studying/working at night), a computer for the school, pumps for safe well water, power for milling grain, refrigeration, etc.

5. Providing Clean Water and Sanitation - through protected springs, rainwater harvesting, and other basic technologies in order to greatly increase the health of the entire community.

Sachs says that these are simple things that can be done at very little cost (approximately $70/person annually), and that these fundamental structural improvements will give people the leg up they need to improve their own lives from there. But of course, a lot of it depends on the willingness of the developed world to seriously commit to ending the kind of extreme poverty we see in places like sub-Saharan Africa. He proposes nine necessary steps towards reaching that goal:

1. Committing to the task
2. Adopting a plan of action
3. Raising the voice of the poor
4. Redeeming the U.S. role in the world
5. Rescuing the IMF and World Bank
6. Strengthening the U.N.
7. Harnessing global science
8. Promoting sustainable development
9. Making a personal commitment

I guess what's so exciting is that poverty really is preventable. There really are people like Sachs who have a plan that could really work, if only the world had the collective will to put it into action. Of course the depressing part is the knowledge that so few people or nations will actually have the vision or desire to work towards such an important goal. We're too busy spending all our money fighting wars to protect our own "security" to worry about actually doing what Jesus told us to do in helping the poor.

But one can always hope...
posted by Mike Clawson at 1:23 AM | Permalink |


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