Despite thousands of well-intentioned programs and billions of dollars in aid devoted to fighting global poverty, the condition persists: more than one billion of the world's people scrape by on less than $1 a day. Most are hungry as well as poor, and most live on small farms in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Paul Polak and the organization he founded, International Development Enterprises (IDE), have developed a radical new approach to poverty eradication that has already succeeded in lifting 17 million people out of poverty. He will be on campus Tuesday, April 1, at 7:30 pm in Gamble Auditorium.
In his new book, Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail, Polak debunks what he calls the "three great poverty eradication myths": that charitable donations alone will end poverty, that national economic growth will end poverty, and that big business, operating as it does now, will end poverty. Polak champions instead a grassroots approach that enables the dollar-a-day rural poor to access affordable technologies and tools to raise their land productivity and their incomes.
"Paul Polak's approach is beautifully revolutionary because it recognizes that the poor must be part of the solution to end poverty and are not the causes of it," said Majora Carter, executive director of Sustainable South Bronx. The Economist magazine calls Out of Poverty "wise and engaging."
In his 25 years of work with IDE, Polak helped develop and market innovative low-cost water technologies that have raised agricultural productivity and helped generate $288 million a year in permanent new net income for poor farm families.
Polak is the recipient of the Scientific American Top 50 award for agricultural policy and the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. He will sign copies of his book after the event, which is sponsored by the Center for the Environment, with support from McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, the economics department, and the Odyssey Bookshop. The event is free and open to the public.