Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The End of Poverty

If you have not read the book, The End of poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time by Jeffrey D. Sachs then pick up a copy. This is a book that will make you hopeful that we can turn things around with determination and commitment. The book will make you angry when you realize that "we" are letting people die through pandemic disease, spread of uncontrolled infections, conflicts that are about encroaching on other populations and manipulation of natural disasters. And as we know,conflicts generate displacement and refugees. Sachs reminds us that when the rains fail in Africa, war is triggered. He contends that we will solve Darfur by peacekeepers, sanctions and disinvestment.

Sachs is one of the few authors that provides an insightful explanation about why some nations fail to thrive. Some explanations are suspect because they omit colonialism. Not Sachs. But he goes even further back and demonstrates how developing nations tapped innovations that allowed for the use of transport along with colonialism that shifted the wealth in the world. He talks about the parodox of the world of affluence and the worl of poverty. And reminds us that this is a resolveabl problem.

Furthermore, he believes there is enough wealth and technology to go around. He reminds us that 43% of the world is living on less than $1 a day.

Sachs not only believes that we can end poverty but he has begun a campaign to do so. He spoke at the University of Chicago this year about some of the things that he is doing in the area of malaria. Malaria kills 2-3 million children a year. These are all preventable deaths.
Sachs is currently working with China who he claims is providing the "single most important medicine in Africa for the prevention of malaria." He sponsored a village of 5,000 individuals in Tanzania. The government of Tanzania went door-to-door in September and handed out mosquito nets that cost $5 each that had been treated with a chemical that repels mosquitoes for five years. As a result, malaria was reduced by 90%. They did an assessment in January and determined that there had been no cases of malaria. How is this related to his campaign to end poverty? Malaria leads to poverty when people cannot work due to poor health. And as he reminds us, this is a resolvable problem.

The USA's military budget alone, 650 billion dollars, is greater than all of the rest of the worlds budgets.

Poverty and hunger are pervasive in Africa. Chronic hunger results in undernourishment. Chronic shortages of food production reflect in part, the poverty of farmers who cannot afford fertilizer and without the fertilizer they can't make use of high yield crops. Yet, fertilizer an seeds actually can triple the yield. One hundred million farmers are working the fields, mostly women. Farmers get one third of their yield. They cannot feed their families, much less have a surplus to take to the market.

Some of the statistics he shared:

Over 1 billion people around the wold live in extreme poverty, surviving o less than one dollar a day
Every 10 secnds, an African child dies of malaria
Across the globe, more than 800 million people go bed hungry every nigt
Every year me than 10 million children diebeore their fifth birthda from completely preventable diseaseslike diarrhea ad pneumonia
Every day over 20,000 pple die because they are too poor to stay alive.

Some Solutions
Sleeping under a bednet will preven children from getting malaria
Vitamin A and iron supplements willelp fith malnutrition and make children stronger
Basic fertlizer will replenis depleted soil and dramatically increase crop yields
Anti-retrovirals will keep people with HIV/AIDS alive in poor countries justs they do in rich ones
Free, daily school lunches will help ensure that students stay in school and are better able to learn.

Finally, bundling critical, life-saving interventions in agricultula productivity, health, educati and rural infrastructure in a comprehensive investment strategy will provie that the Millenium Development Goals can be achieved within five yes, and make the difference between life and death.

Finally, we have to break the mindset of "us" and "them." We are in this together. We will either survive and thrive together or we will perish together. The decision is ours!

For more information go to www.milleniumpromise.org
Blessed Be! Qiyamah A. Rahman