How much does it cost to end poverty?

Today the world produces enough food for everyone on the planet. So why are more than a billion people still dying of hunger? Why is life itself tenuous for so many families while the eight richest people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 50 percent of people in the world?

The answer is poverty. But poverty can be stopped, and this raises the question, “how much does it cost to end poverty?”

Poverty can be categorized as moderate, relative or extreme. Here we will try to define the cost needed to end extreme poverty. But first, what is extreme poverty? It refers to the state of the poorest people in the world. They are barely able to meet their minimal needs for survival, as they live on less than $1.90 per day, according to the World Bank.

But poverty is more than just very low incomes. It is hunger, high mortality rates, conflicts, a lack of education or health services and a lack of a future for hundreds of thousands of women, men and children.

Broadly, poverty affects most of the people in the world. In 2005, 71 percent of the world’s population lived on an income below $10 a day. To eradicate poverty is possible, but at what cost?

In his book End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, provides one answer to the question “how much does it cost to end poverty?”

He argues that poverty could be eliminated by the year 2025 thanks to “well-placed development aids”. Investment in local farms to boost capital and productivity, education for both children and adults, enhancing access to health services and leveraging renewable energy resources are the best ways to end poverty.

So, how much does it cost to end poverty?

Jeffrey Sachs, as one of the world’s leading experts on economic development and the fight against poverty, stated that the cost to end poverty is $175 billion per year for 20 years. This yearly amount is less than 1 percent of the combined income of the richest countries in the world, and only four times the United States’ military budget for one year.

Ending poverty is possible and at a low cost. Now we just need ordinary citizens as well as multinational corporations to start meeting their responsibilities to help the poor and the left behind.

– Léa Gorius

Photo: Flickr