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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Ending hunger not fiction

Jeffrey D. Sachs says he’s not writing fiction when he suggests extreme poverty and hunger can be eliminated. Speaking at a U.N. event in April, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York City, said about 1 billion people suffer from extreme poverty.

Sachs is an adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anan on the Millennium Development Goals, a series of eight global objectives that include cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015. The goals are being promoted by a wide range of religious groups, including the ELCA World Hunger Appeal and Bread for the World.

Echoing his recent book, The End of Poverty (Penguin Press), Sachs said extreme poverty, which kills 20,000 people a day, can be overcome by small but concrete actions taken by rich nations. The transfer of seven-tenths of 1 percent of gross national product (70 cents for every $100) would allow a billion people “to escape from the poverty trap,” he said. “This is what stands between life and death for millions.”

The U.N. Development Program estimates that an additional $13 billion annually would meet the nutrition and health needs of the world’s poorest people. Animal lovers in the U.S. and Europe spend more than that each year on pet food.


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