I wanted to stand up and shout “Bravo” after reading the 2014 Gates Annual Letter this week. It is so well done. Of course we’ve come to expect no less from Bill & Melinda Gates these days as they seem to be driving the search for solutions to the world’s toughest problems. In fact earlier this month Bill Gates was declared the Most Admired Person in the world in a global survey done by YouGov for the Times of London. What I love about the letter this year is the clear-cut way three false beliefs that hinder development are tackled. An optimist myself, the hopeful predictions in this letter make me want to stand up and cheer.
“By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world”.- Bill Gates
The Myth Busters Live show came through town recently, and my family and I really enjoyed it. Having been fans of the TV show, we gleefully watched popular myths disproved on stage as science trumped assumptions time after time. So it is a thrill for me that Bill & Melinda Gates have taken the Myth Busters approach to dispel three pervasive myths surrounding our ability to put an end to global poverty. The 2014 Gates Annual Letter, published this past week, like the Myth Busters, uses facts, data, and science to indisputably shut down major misconceptions regarding our ability to end extreme poverty over the next several decades. The well executed letter is packed with great videos, charts and infographics to back up points.
The first myth tackled is that Poor Countries Are Doomed To Stay Poor. Just by showing the before and after pictures of the evolution of underdeveloped cities that have transformed over the decades into modern metropolises proves this statement is false. The progress is indisputable, and if it can happen in some of the cities shown in the letter, then it can happen anywhere. War, corruption, politics, and geography will always be the biggest enemies of progress. As the letter states however; there are many elements that contribute to extreme poverty that we now have the solutions for.
So the easiest way to respond to the myth that poor countries are doomed to stay poor is to point to one fact: They haven’t stayed poor. Many—though by no means all—of the countries we used to call poor now have thriving economies. And the percentage of very poor people has dropped by more than half since 1990.-Bill Gates
The second myth is that Foreign Aid is a Big Waste. This frustrates me, when the general population is under the misconception that 25% of our budget is spent on foreign aid, and the reality is less than 1% ! Foreign Aid has greatly helped progress in many ways and although it is not perfect, major global breakthroughs have resulted from it. Just take a look at the infographic below to get an idea of some ways it has contributed to over the years:
The third myth is that Saving Lives Leads To Overpopulation. According to the World Health Organization Globally, around 54.5 million people die each year. One in eight of these deaths occurs in children under the age of 5, and most of those are from preventable causes. Not only is it the humane thing to prevent the deaths that we can, but when more children survive, family sizes shrink. The below video does an amazing job of explaining why:
I really encourage you to read the 2014 Gates Annual Letter in its entirety yourself. It is a worthy read. Bravo to Bill and Melinda Gates.
By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. You might think that such striking progress would be widely celebrated, but in fact, Melinda and I are struck by how many people think the world is getting worse. The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful. That’s why in this year’s letter we take apart some of the myths that slow down the work. The next time you hear these myths, we hope you will do the same.
– Bill Gates
I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.
Our Motto: Individually we are all-powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.
*All photos, info graphics videos and quotes in this post are sourced from the 2014 Gates Annual Letter.