Great strides have been made in the fight to end malaria. Campaigns to increase the availability and proper use of mosquito nets have been exceptionally successful in protecting entire families from this deadly disease.
A $10 mosquito net can make the difference between a life of chronic debilitating illness and even death or a healthy childhood of smiles and growth. That seems like a “no-brainer” to me.
These goals, which replace the Millennium Development Goals, set the course for the next 15 years. They are both sustainable and achievable, especially if we all work together to make them happen.
Preparing for my class I am teaching at George Mason University this fall, I am doing a lot of reading. Another good book I have just finished is The White Man’s Burden:Why the West’s Efforts the Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly. The book was named best book of the year by The Economist, Financial Times and the Washington Post.
The White Man’s Burden is the sequel to Easterly’s first book, The Elusive Quest For Growth. Recognized as one of the world’s best know development economists, Easterly offers both a brilliant and a biting diagnosis of the West’s interventions on behalf of the poor in The White Man’s Burden. He makes an excellent argument that our focus needs to be focused on small, measurable interventions that encourage self dependance and personal growth rather than multimillion dollar macro-projects with a continuous history of failure.
Remember, aid cannot achieve the end of poverty. Only homegrown development based on the dynamism of individuals and firms in free markets can do that. Shorn of the impossible task of general economic development, aid can achieve much more than it is achieving now to relieve the sufferings of the poor.
Put the focus back where it belongs: get the poorest people in the world such obvious goods as the vaccines, the antibiotics, the food supplements, the improved seeds, the fertilizer, the roads, the boreholes, the water pipes, the textbooks, and the nurses. This is not making the poor dependent on handouts; it is giving the poorest people the health, nutrition, education, and other inputs that raise the payoff to their own efforts to better their lives.
Easterly’s expertise makes this a must-read for anyone involved in working with the poor and hungry, or interested in international development.
I am pleased that Pope Francis is serious about his commitment to the poor and hungry. Here is an unedited press release from the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization of the Pope’s address to that body. This is a faith leader leading by example.
Pope Francis: Starvation in a world of plenty “scandalous”
20 June 2013, Vatican City/Rome, Italy – Pope Francis lauded participants in the 38th FAO Conference for working together against hunger but urged countries to “move beyond indifference” in policies that exclude the most vulnerable and exacerbate hunger and poverty in the world.
“It is a well-known fact that current levels of production are sufficient, yet millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This is truly scandalous,” Pope Francis said, during an audience at the Vatican.
The Pope received the delegates, who represented countries from every region of the world, in keeping with a tradition that began 60 years ago. He thanked and encouraged FAO for its work.
Saying the global economic crisis could not “continue to be used as an alibi,” the pontiff added, “The crisis will not be completely over until situations and living conditions are examined in terms of the human person and human dignity.”
The pope warned that people and their dignity risked “turning into vague abstractions in the face of issues like the use of force, war, malnutrition, marginalization, the violation of basic liberties, and financial speculation, which presently affects the price of food, treating it like any other merchandise and overlooking its primary function.”
“There is a need to oppose the shortsighted economic interests and the mentality of power of a relative few who exclude the majority of the world’s peoples, generating poverty and marginalization and causing a breakdown in society.”
Mohammad Asif Rahimi, Chairperson of the FAO Conference and Afghanistan’s Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock was joined by FAO Director-General Josè Graziano da Silva and hundreds of representatives of FAO member countries from every region of the world.
“It was inspiring when His Holiness stated that a way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth in a fair and just manner,” Rahimi said.
“FAO, in turn, is counting on the impact that Pope Francis and leaders of all religious faiths can have in mobilizing governments, organizations, companies and communities to take action and defend the right to food of those who are most vulnerable,” Rahimi added.
“The fight against hunger must have no color, no religion, no political affiliation. Ending hunger is absolutely necessary if we want a truly sustainable and more secure future. It makes political and economic sense, but morally and ethically, it is also the right thing to do,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva added.
“Two weeks earlier, Pope Francis spoke out against the culture of waste that leads to the loss of 1.3 billion tons of food every year. The pontiff said that it was ‘like stealing food from poor people’, and he was right. But we are also squandering entire generations of lives to starvation, inadequate nutrition and poor health. And this is hurting us all,” the FAO head said.
The FAO Conference is the organization’s highest governing body. Delegates represent FAO member countries, which number 194 in all.