Giving Till it Heals

In my new book The End of Poverty , I show how extreme poverty can be ended by 2025, but only if the rich world follows through on its promise to help the poorest countries. In order to thrive, and to foster the private-sector investment needed for long-term growth, an economy requires functioning health and education systems, investments in soil nutrients and water management, and basic infrastructure such as electricity and motorized transport. Yet the poorest countries, even well governed ones, lack the resources to finance these investments.

Lack of adequate foreign assistance is one of the greatest disgraces on our planet, and the United States has been the biggest laggard of all. It is urgent that the US wake up to global realities, and that it follow through on its commitments.

The most famous single promise by the rich countries has been to provide aid to the poorest countries equal to at least 0.7% of their GNP. The commitment began 44 years ago, in 1961, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the objective that foreign assistance should increase significantly, “so as to reach as soon as possible approximately 1% of the combined national incomes of the economically advanced countries.” At the time, foreign assistance was about 0.5% of rich-country income.

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