Jeffrey Sachs is a world-renowned economist who went from the upper echelons of the economic world to an incredibly ambitious humanitarian quest in Africa. He was largely unknown by most (outside of the economic crowd) until his book, The End of Poverty became a best-seller.
This book focuses on Sachs’ Millenium Villages Project (which spanned 14 villages and half a million people) its successes, failures, and the journey. Sachs sought to conquer a wide variety of problems contributing to an everlasting state of poverty (and death) in the Sub-Saharan Africa. He raised incredible amounts of money to improve medicine, malaria prevention, nutrition, and economic development. He is an incredibly gifted man with the ability to explain and break down difficult concepts. He also has an amazing passion to change the world and does not care about public opinion (often dealing with potential donors in a very antagonistic and abrasive way).
Without question, Sachs’ program was a success, especially in health related matters (such as Malaria). The future success of this program’s has been heavily debated by people on all sides of the quest to end poverty. An incredible increase in foreign aid is an essential component of Sachs’ long term plan . Many argue that there is really no way to ever get out of this perpetual state of dependence. They argue that as long as it remains a continual hand out, it seems unlikely that major changes will occur.
Due to some of these concerns, Sachs shifted his focus to economic development. However, this was one of the more underperforming components of his program.
I really enjoyed this book because it informed me about a topic and area of the world I knew nothing about. It is quite hard not to feel hopeless about the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa.It seems that throwing money at a medley of problems can truly only get you so far. I realized that not only is this region wholly undeveloped, the culture and beliefs make it even more difficult to impose a totally new way of life.
If you missed the last post, no worries! Check it out here, it’s a book review of Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff.