Friday, December 26, 2008

Some holiday cheer from Jeffery Sachs

Jeffrey Sachs uses his latest commentary to highlight some great accomplishments that have helped the anti-poverty cause. He reminds us of these achievements to show that the fight against poverty can be won, and so that we don't think the problems are too big to conquer.

Our snippet of Dr. Sachs commentary came from the Miami Herald, even though it has been published just about everywhere.

Hats off, first, to Mexico for pioneering the idea of ''conditional cash transfers'' to poor households. These transfers enable and encourage those households to invest in their children's health, nutrition and schooling. Mexico's ''Opportunities Program,'' led by President Felipe Calderón, is now being widely emulated around Latin America.

• Norway, under the leadership of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, is maintaining its tradition of creative social and environmental leadership. The government has put together a global alliance to prevent maternal death in childbirth, investing in both safe delivery and survival of newborns. At the same time, Norway launched an innovative $1 billion program with Brazil to induce poor communities in the Amazon to end rampant deforestation. Cleverly, Norway pays out the funds to Brazil only upon proven success in avoiding deforestation (compared with an agreed baseline).

• Spain, under the leadership of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has given a major stimulus to helping the poorest countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Spain created a new MDG Fund at the United Nations to promote the cooperation needed to address the various challenges of the MDGs.

• Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has similarly surged to the forefront of global problem solving, putting forward a bold action plan on climate change and proposing new and practical means to address the MDGs. Australia put real money on the table for increased food production, along the lines that Spain is proposing. It also champions an increased program of action for the poor and environmentally threatened island economies of the Pacific region.

• These efforts have been matched by actions in the poorest countries. The landlocked and impoverished country of Malawi, under the leadership of President Bingu wa Mutharika, has doubled its annual food production since 2005 through a pioneering effort to help its poorest farmers. The program has been so successful that it is being emulated across Africa.

• Mali's government, under President Amadou Toumani Touré, has recently put forward a bold challenge to the world community. Mali is eager to scale up investments in agriculture, health, education and infrastructure in its 166 poorest communities. The plans are detailed, thoughtful, credible and based on proven successes that the government has already achieved. The rich world has promised to help Mali, and now Mali has led the way with its creativity.

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