I believe it is in the rich world’s enlightened self-interest to continue investing in foreign aid. If societies can’t provide for people’s basic health, if they can’t feed and educate people, then their populations and problems will grow and the world will be a less stable place. –Bill Gates’ 2011 Annual Letter
Bill Gates’ third annual letter on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation highlights seven areas on which the Foundation plans to focus most of its efforts in the coming year. Along with a strong focus on ending polio, Gates also identifies the need for expanded vaccines for other diseases like measles, tetanus and pneumonia in the developing world. He also emphasizes the need to eradicate malaria, reduce high infant mortality rates in the developing world, and reviews the slow but steady pace at which new innovations have been applied to the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS among people in poverty around the globe. Plus, he calls attention to domestic issues, such as improving the U.S. education system with a strong focus on excellence in teaching.
Notably, Gates also highlights the Foundation’s dedication to improving agriculture around the world as their single biggest area of investment outside of health. Gates says, “When farmers increase their productivity, nutrition is improved and hunger and poverty are reduced.” In countries like Ghana, he says, increased food production has led to economic improvements in other areas as well. Gates talks enthusiastically about the Foundation’s partnership with the World Food Programme’s (WFP), innovating the process of providing global food aid, and his launching an international coalition called the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program with finance ministers from the U.S., Canada, Spain and South Korea providing support to developing countries with “strong domestic agricultural development plans that they are already investing in themselves but cannot fully fund.” Gates says that the high demand in the developing world for this assistance demonstrates how committed countries are to their own agricultural development.
Ultimately, says Gates, “increasing production in Africa will be critical for the world to have enough food. It’s encouraging that foreign aid for agriculture has now increased from its historic low of just $2.8 billion in 2003 to $5.9 billion in 2009, and it’s critical that nations don’t cut back again.”
Bill Gates in a Video Overview of His 2011 Annual Letter:
Video courtesy of gatesfoundation.org.