Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Time for Poverty to Have the Spotlight

by Chelsea Wieber
After a few fumbled attempts on their own, global financial leaders gathered in Washington D.C. last weekend to develop a joint plan to prevent the spread of the financial crisis.
Imagine if they focused just a fraction of that attention on alleviating global poverty. After all, high food and fuel prices pushed an additional 75 million people further into poverty this year.
"When food prices peaked and began to come down, despite the fact that conditions within poor countries remained hugely adverse, attention already started to wane," development economist Jeffry Sachs told Reuters. By contrast, the world's finance ministers jumped to commit incredibly large sums of money when credit markets started to fail — a crisis that continues to hold the world's attention.
"The amounts that are needed (to help the poor grow more food) are in the low billions of dollars and we're talking every day now about a new commitment of hundreds of billions for this and hundreds of billions for that," says Sachs. "The truth about poverty is that the poor don't need very much."
In other words, $700 billion — or whatever the astronomical total the worldwide bailout turns out to be — would go a long, long way.
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