Monday, January 22, 2007

Jeffrey Sachs -- End of Poverty

For the past few days I have been absorbed by reading "The End of Poverty" by Jeffrey Sachs. It is a book that has been on my 'must read' list for a while. Not only does it deal with a subject that is important to me - the topic of extreme poverty - but it brings the highest level of knowledge to the topic and presents it in a very lively and readable way!

Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey Sachs knows about development economics and extreme poverty in both theoretical and practical ways, because it has been his life's work. He brings great intelligence, common sense and respect for others to his work, and has been a pivotal player in shaping policy at the top level.

His book is full of useful concepts such as the threshold effect. He observes that aid to the poorest countries has failed to impact on poverty because it has never been sufficient to reach the threshold of effectiveness. For example, he notes that aid is often given to pilot projects which can never make a difference at a national level unless they are followed by scaled up projects with national reach.

He debunks the myth that the US has given a lot of aid African countries. His analysis shows that in the past 10 years American aid amounts to 6c per African person per year. As he says, this is hardly enough to buy a paper cup, never mind fill it with water.

Sachs was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential leaders in the world, and he is the author of hundreds of scholarly articles. The End of Poverty was a New York Times bestseller in 2005.

It is interesting to read Jeffrey Sachs with the School of St Jude in mind. It is clear that the school is run according to the success principles spelled out by Sachs for the end of poverty.

  • First, it addresses one of the core elements that contribute to the cycle of poverty -- lack of education.
  • Second, it provides sufficient resources to cross the threshold effect so that the children get a very good education -- they get a meal every day, clothes to wear, extra tuition and learning resources (library, computers, etc.).
  • Third, the school educates boys and girls equally.

So, if you feel that you are able to contribute towards ending the grinding cycle of extreme poverty in Africa, this is a project that is making a real difference.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Thanks a lot for recommending this book! I had recently put it on my Amazon wish list myself. I added it after running into Sachs in a documentary from PBS called "Commanding Heights"

It interviews him when he was back at Harvard. It was really before he started the poverty campaign and was more concerned with reforming former communist markets, but still, he came off as brilliant and inspired. I definitely can't wait to read his book!