It was interesting reading this book straight after reading Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. In Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein mentions the author of End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs, several times. The reason being that he was involved in developing economic policies in a lot of the countries which she used as case studies. The interesting thing was reading his perspective and insights on these same case studies.
The End of Poverty is a positive book. Rather than focusing on the many problems and difficulties, or even on the less than moral actions and policies of wealthy countries, he looks at solutions. His objective is to show how extreme poverty (defined as people who live on less than $1 a day) can be eradicated by 2025.
He looks at the causes of poverty and shows how our traditional assumptions are incorrect. He then shows how extreme poverty can be erradicated in a sustainable way and how much it would cost. Then he looks at whether or not the wealthy nations can afford to pay for the solution. He ends by explaining why eradicating extreme poverty is something that we must do.
This book is full of interesting information. I found that Jeffrey Sachs shone a light of reason and fact on many dark corners of misconception and prejudice. Armed with this better understanding of why things are the way they are and how we can go about changing them, one feels strongly that something must be done.
There has been a lot of good work done over the years to assist the poor, but much more needs to be done in order to eradicate extreme poverty and it needs to be done according to a plan, rather than haphazardly. It needs to be sustainable and long term. Jeffrey Sachs shows how this is all possible, all that is required is the political will to do it.
There is one thing which I feel should have received some attention in the book and that is the effect of climate change on the poor. It is widely accepted that the effects of climate change will be felt more acutely by the developing countries. The effects of climate change have the potential to slow down and even reverse development. According to the Human Development Report 2007/2008, a significant amount of aid will be required to assist developing countries with adaptation to climate change. These funds are in addition to those already required for development aid, the problem is that the necessary funds are currently being taken from development aid budgets.
Despite this omission, this is another must read book. I recommend it to everyone. Perhaps read the summary of the Human Development Report 2007/2008 afterwards to understand the additional aid requirements necessitated by climate change.