SEATTLE, Washington — In its annual shareholder letter, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation described the coming of the end for poverty-stricken countries. They predicted that “by 2035 there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.” This prediction is based on data collected and progress made so far in the fight against poverty. By using case studies of nations that have risen up from widespread poverty and citing examples of how that poverty can be reduced in the future, the Gates Foundation gives a blueprint of the potential the 21st century holds.
One of the examples the Gates Foundation used was the growth of Mexico City. The Gates couple went to Mexico City in the 1980s and said it witnesed stunning poverty at the time. In 2011, they went back and photographed the changes they witnessed. Bill Gates wrote, “the city is mind-blowingly different… most people who live here are middle-class.” After years of the city being plagued by air pollution and conditions that made it barely livable, Mexico City had made admirable progress.
Gates writes of how “the global picture of poverty has been completely redrawn” over the course of his life, pointing to the promise that the future holds. With nations like Brazil, Malaysia and India rising up after years of lagging behind others in the global economy, one could see some of the African nations following suit.
After the advances in AIDS work done in Africa, conditions have been set in place for future prosperity. In terms of medical assistance, the Gates Foundation pointed out that thanks to the aid the United States and other Western countries have given, child mortality rates have fallen in low-income countries to the level of the U.S. in 1980. Thus, the aid that has been given out has saved thousands of children’s lives and will continue to in the future.
Critics who say foreign aid leads to dependence on the West are disproved by Gates, as he shows how India has needed less aid in the last twenty years. American foreign aid made up 1 percent of India’s total foreign aid in 1991, that number has dropped to .09 percent this past year. If India can show such remarkable improvement in a span just over twenty years, other countries can too.
Bill and Melinda Gates espouse a message of hope for the fight against global poverty. The hope that they give is shared by The Borgen Project. There is still so much more that the U.S. and the West can do for the developing world. The Gates Foundation points out that compared to the most generous nation in the West (Norway) the U.S. gives less of a gross domestic product percentage to foreign aid. Organizations like the Borgen Project are committed to getting more aid and keeping this fight against poverty going strong.
– Eric Gustafsson