January 18th, 2005

Whatever it takes

A report sponsored by the United Nations, and overseen by Jeffrey Sachs, urges rich countries to spend more on cutting hunger and poverty in the developing world. But there are still plenty of cynics

THOUGH hunger is of course impossible to ignore for the 850m people who suffer from it, statistics on malnutrition merely nag intermittently at the conscience of everyone else. And though the 1.1 billion people in extreme poverty live in a permanent state of emergency, the development industry that serves them operates at a somewhat gentler pace. What is missing from the aid debate, argues Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, is the requisite sense of urgency. “Development is not a spectator sport,” he has said. We are aware, however dimly, of what is happening in the poorest parts of the world. We know, more or less, what to do. What, then, are we waiting for?

A nice round number in the Gregorian calendar is one answer. In 2000, governments from around the world congregated at the United Nations, promising to spare no effort in the fight against “the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty”. They set eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), for such things…

Read full article in The Economist.


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