Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has charged governments and other economic stakeholders globally to prioritise poverty reduction in their developmental activities in order to mitigate the growing poverty rates across geo-political sub-regions.
Specifically, the Foundation pointed out that improving health and education in Africa should be the world’s priority.
In the latest report from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, efforts by governments over the years in the fight against poverty and diseases may be truncated soon with the attendant implications for worsening poverty levels in most countries in the years ahead.
According to the report findings, the result of past efforts remains the concentration of the planet’s remaining poor largely in one place, Africa.
The Foundation reported further that if the current population and economic trends continued, the poverty level could get worse.
It projected, based on current realities, that by 2050, 86 percent of the world’s extreme poor, that is, those surviving on the equivalent of $1.90 a day, would be living in sub-Saharan Africa and that close to half of this total, will reside in just two countries – Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The Foundation stated: “Decades of stunning progress in the fight against poverty and disease may be on the verge of stalling. If current trends continue, the number of poor people in the world will stop falling – and could even start to rise.”
Identifying demographics as a driving factor with the world’s population growing fastest in its poorest regions, notably parts of Africa, Bill Gates pointed out that “the shift of where kids are being born is to the places where it’s the most difficult to get the nutrition, vaccines, and education to those kids.
“If you run these economic models, [it] could be 90% of the people in extreme poverty are on one continent”, he predicted.
The report projected further that in the global poverty level spread across national frontiers, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo alone would be home to more than 40 percent of the extremely poor people in the world by 2050.
The Foundation stated further that on top of that, development aid from the richest countries had flattened out even as Bill Gates confirmed that “it hasn’t been easy to even maintain these levels.”
He believes the Syrian civil war and the 2008 financial crisis – in contributing to nationalism and distrust of elites – have dampened global giving, noting further that “take those two away and I’ll bet that I can get aid levels up maybe 25% higher than they are today.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation report is an annual initiative which started last year, to bring attention to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), high-profile 2030 targets around global health and poverty that UN members adopted in 2015.
Those goals, which focus on areas ranging from poverty reduction to climate change and gender equality, remain elusive. Statistical analysis conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which contributed to the report and gets funding from the Gates Foundation, has suggested most countries will achieve few, if any, of the 17 SDGs.
The Gates’ aim this year is to show that investing in health and education in Africa can shift the trajectory; they forecast that such investments could increase the size of the sub-Saharan economy by roughly 90% by 2050.
They wrote: “The data show that differences in health and education levels explain as much as 30% of the variance in per-capita GDP between countries.”
Commenting on the research findings, the Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Chris Murray, said: “Just having a lot of people who can work doesn’t mean they get work, but nevertheless, statistically that seems to contribute to faster economic growth,” says
“When you combine that with having people of working age that are more educated, have better skills, and are healthier, that’s where you get human capital and the demographics lining up to contribute to faster economic growth”, Murray stressed.
The report highlights Vietnam as a model for the progress possible in the area of education, with students performing better on academic tests than their peers in much wealthier countries. While the worldwide number of children, including girls, enrolled in school has increased dramatically over the past two decades, the quality of that education needs improvement.
The Foundation reports further: “The world’s priority for the next three decades should be a third wave of poverty reduction in Africa,” noting the two earlier waves of poverty reduction in China and India that have contributed to the emergence of over a billion people from extreme poverty over the last two decades.
Bill Gates acknowledges addressing the problems in Africa can be especially hard, compared to India, for example.
He clarified: “In terms of quality of governance, you’ve got a lot of variability in Africa and then you have the challenge that there’s a lot of smaller countries like Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger—these are super important countries in that they still have a very high mortality rates and not much infrastructure.”