In Ethiopia income is only $800 a year, but in Botswana it’s $12,000
February 5, 2014 (Desert News) — The poor are getting richer, says
Bill Gates, and there’s no reason to believe we can’t end poverty –
soon. “By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the
world,” Gates said in an annual Gates Foundation letter.
He and his wife are struck by how many people seem to believe that
the world is getting worse, he writes. “By almost any measure, the world
is better than it has ever been,” writes Gates, citing improvements in
health, life expectancy and dramatic turnarounds in cities such as
Mexico City and Nairobi.
Traditionally the annual letter focuses on the activities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation –
the largest charitable foundation in the world– but this time the
co-chairman and chairwoman seek to debunk “three myths” that are
blocking work for the poor: the notion that poor countries are doomed to
stay that way, that foreign aid is a waste, and that saving lives will
only lead to overpopulation.
To buy into the myths is not just incorrect, he says, it blocks progress for the poor.
The Poor Get Richer
The first and most ingrained myth, writes Gates, is the notion that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
“The easiest way to respond to the myth that poor countries are
doomed to stay poor is to point to one fact: They haven’t stayed poor.
Many – though by no means all – of the countries we used to call poor
now have thriving economies. And the percentage of very poor people has
dropped by more than half since 1990.”
In 1987, Mexico City had almost no running water, and people had to
trek by bike or foot to fill up jugs. Today, the city is transformed.
There are skyscrapers, modern bridges, and new roads. “When I visit
there now I think, “Wow, most people here are middle-class. What a
miracle,” writes Gates.
But what about Africa? Isn’t it suffering from incurable poverty?
Wrong, says Gates. Seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies of the
past half-decade are in Africa. Parts of Africa still suffer from
extreme poverty, but cities like Nairobi have thriving international
markets. In Ethiopia income is only $800 a year, but in Botswana it’s
$12,000. “You should look skeptically at anyone who treats an entire
continent as an undifferentiated mass of poverty and disease,” he
Source: Desert News