It has been 15 years since Bill and Melinda Gates started the Gates Foundation, and the couple has made a big bet for the next decade-and-a-half: the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than any other time in history.
The Gates’ annual letter was released on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, on the foundation’s blog. The Gates’ are focusing on wiping out diseases, reducing poverty, and improving education. The letter is broken down into four sub-categories of the overall “bet.”
Child Deaths Will Be Cut In Half
The leading cause of death for children under 5 is disease. Unsanitary living conditions and a lack of vaccines kill one in 20 children, and the Gates hope to see a decrease by at least 50 percent by 2030. All countries will add vaccines for pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and measles to their individual immunization programs. Better sanitation will also contribute to the decrease in disease. In addition to providing vaccinations, the Gates Foundation plans to help mothers adopt new practices, such as proper breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact with newborns.
Africa Will Be Able to Feed Itself
Although seven out of 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa are farmers, many farms do not yield the benefits of their counterparts in the developed world. Many parts of Africa currently rely on food aid and imports from outside sources to feed their people. Innovations in farming can provide farmers with better fertilizers and a surplus in crops, allowing farmers to farm more food. As technology expands and becomes more easily available, communications with farmers in remote areas will become possible and business will increase. In the next 15 years, Africa will be able to export more than it receives in imports, creating a balanced economy.
Mobile Banking Will Transform Banking
Digital banking can give the poor easy access and control of their assets. Approximately 2.5 billion people don’t have access to cheap and easy financial services, and for many people, their savings is in the form of jewelry or livestock; it is very difficult to cover daily expenses. To be able to use a mobile phone to take care of finances makes it much easier to purchase and save money. Mobile banking is expected to expand and cover a wide range of financial services, such as interest-bearing savings accounts to credit and insurance.
Smartphones and software will become more available to African families that can provide more access to education. In remote areas where schools are hours away or students must be of a certain age to attend, it is essential to provide education as early as possible. As more children are exposed to education earlier in life, they are set down a path that leads to success in all areas of life. Online education can be crucial in countries where gender gaps are wide and girls can’t go to school or start a business. Countries that stay behind in education will eventually be left behind.
– Alaina Grote