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.