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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sachs: Time for Action on Poverty

Here's Jeffrey Sachs on the need for action in the quest to eliminate world poverty. I can't say that I fully endorse all of Sachs' policy recommendations. What I can fully endorse is the attention he brings to the issue of world poverty:

It is time for words to give way to meaningful action, by Jeffrey Sachs, Financial Times:  ...There was a lot of talk this year about ending extreme poverty; at the Gleneagles summit of the Group of Eight in July, the United Nations world summit in September and in a feast of concerts, television shows, books and articles around the world that raised public awareness and interest. But these words have yet to make a discernible difference for the hungry, destitute and dying. Action needs to proceed at every level, from the local to the national and the international. ... At the end of next year, each must be asked a single question: what did you do this year to end extreme poverty?

The key breakthrough in 2005 was the commitment of the European Union donors to achieve the vaunted target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product in official development aid by the year 2015. An intermediate benchmark of 0.56 per cent of GNP in aid as of 2010 was established. While Europe led, the Bush Administration sulked, refusing to be held to what it called an “artificial” standard. How cheeky of the world’s richest and most powerful country, one that devotes $500bn per year to the military, yet a pathetic $4bn per year to the hungry and dying of Africa (less than 4 cents for every $100 of US GNP). Most of that miserly aid to Africa is emergency food aid and US consultant salaries, rather than real development aid. ...

There must be increased resources to Africa. The point is not money per se, but what money can buy: bed nets and medicines to fight malaria, anti-retroviral medicines for Aids, fertilisers for replenishing soil nutrients, hardware and software for rural connectivity and countless other practical steps that could relieve hunger, disease and isolation. When practical measures have been undertaken backed by private philanthropy, as in the millennium villages of Kenya and Ethiopia, crop yields and food output have more than doubled in a single season. School attendance has soared in response to school feeding programmes and the elimination of user fees. Healthcare has been dramatically bolstered through the provision of local clinics and the mass distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to fight malaria. The successes are still on a small scale. It is time for the official donors to build on these results. ... The ...  reality that matters is that millions of children are dying each year...

    Posted by on Tuesday, December 27, 2005 at 12:58 AM in Economics, Income Distribution | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (25)

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