HEADLINES OF THE DAY: ANOTHER 15,000 PEOPLE DIED YESTERDAY BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO POOR TO LIVE. THE RICH INCREASED THEIR WEALTH YESTERDAY BY $0.3 BILLION. THE 21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION IS ONE DAY NEARER.
“O Ye rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”
A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis at firstname.lastname@example.org. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 88). This blog is a continuation of the review of ENDING GLOBAL POVERTY: A GUIDE TO WHAT WORKS by Stephen C. Smith, published in 2005.
PART II: ESCAPING THE POVERTY TRAP: HOW THE POOR ARE GAINING THE KEYS TO CAPABILITY
Good work is being done
Even in the poorest regions of the world, far from the major growth engines of the global economy, and in the face of many handicaps, good work is being done to help the poor gain the keys to capability and escape from poverty traps. Part II of the book takes a close look at innovative and inspiring programs in areas such as the Andes, Sub-Saharan Africa, and rural South Asia that remain outside the mainstream of the world economy.
What is a poverty program?
Up to this point, we have looked at what poverty is, why it can be a trap, who the poor are. But what exactly is a poverty program? Many definitions are possible, but the one I use casts a fairly wide net: A poverty program is an intentional and systematic attempt to change the status quo (or equilibrium) in a way that reduces poverty.
The broad range of promising work now being carried out
Keep in mind that identification of effective or innovative programs is not a science; it relies on a combination of statistical and case study methods tempered by judgment. Moreover, there are many other excellent poverty strategies. Although chosen carefully, programs featured in this book are not necessarily superior to many others that are not covered. Instead, these cases are intended to be illustrative of the broad range of promising work now being carried out, and to encourage thinking outside the box about what could be done to meet some of the less-obvious needs of the poor.
Chapter 3: Health, Nutrition, and Population
Our hopes for ending global poverty depend on better health for the poor. Health begins with safe water. But water is all too often scarce, far away, contaminated, or a combination of the three, threatening our efforts.
SOUTH AFRICA: SAFE WATER AND HEALTHY CHILDREN
Risks of cholera and other diseases
In rural South Africa, the poor often live one or two miles or more from sources of water, which must be drawn from streams, or, for the lucky, drawn from hand pumps, although either method is physically straining on tired women, who are generally the ones who fetch the water. Risks of cholera and other diseases found in contaminated water are high. Needless to say, the poor cannot afford the piping and power pumps (even if they could get electricity) that are used by the rich. So the women must trudge twice a day to collect water, wasting desperately needed hours. You can often see their children following sullenly behind. When a little older, the children themselves must fetch the water. These children have generally never enjoyed the playground equipment that we take for granted.
The solution: enter Roundabout Outdoor with its ingenious invention, the Roundabout Playpump. The company developed a low-maintenance merry-go-round (also called a roundabout) for children to spin around in, started and sped up with their feet: the kind of playground staple many of us remember from childhood. But the spinning action is used as power for pumping water out of a well dug nearby, which is then sent up to a water tank a few meters above the ground. The design has an innovative way of converting the circular motion of the toy into up-and-down motion for drawing water using only two moving parts. The children get a playground toy that they really delight in. the Playpumps are often placed in schools, giving children an additional incentive to attend (at least they like the recess time). The children help their families and communities get better access to water simply by having a good time. Children at play may be one of the great renewable resources of the world. The only problem is convincing the kids to get off the Playpump when it is time to come home.
The pump is effective to a depth of about 100 meters, and at 40 meters is considered remarkably efficient – significantly better than what a hand pump could deliver with great effort.
The Playpump costs about $5,000 – an investment that is quickly returned just from the time saved in fetching water.
Many Playpumps have been financed through grants. The project was a winner of a $165,000 World Bank development marketplace award.
Over 500 Playpumps have been installed to date, and over 200,000 South Africans have benefited.
Though maintenance costs are low, these are not trivial to impoverished villagers. Maintenance is financed with small advertising billboards on the sites.
The project is clearly something that can be replicated in many parts of the world in thousands of villages, and interest is growing in transferring this new technology to other countries in Africa and Asia.