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Gates Foundation: Progress in fighting poverty and disease could soon reverse

Gates Foundation: Progress in fighting poverty and disease could soon reverse
[Photo: Flickr user BorsheimsJewelry]

That’s the stark warning from the latest Gates Foundation report. Despite the fact that more than 1 billion people have lifted themselves out of poverty since 2000, the second annual Goalkeepers Data Report warns that, due to more people being born in the world’s poorest countries, that trend could stall–or even reverse itself. As the report warns:

“Rapid population growth in the poorest countries, particularly in Africa, puts future progress at risk. If current trends continue, the number of extremely poor people in the world could stop its two-decade decline–and could even rise.”

Other findings revealed in the report:

  • By 2050, more than 40% of extremely poor people in the world will live in just two countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.
  • By 2050 Africa’s population of 1.1 billion today is expected to double to 2.2 billion.
  • By 2100, Africa will be home to 4 billion people.

The rapid rise in population growth on the continent–and thus an increase of people born into extreme poverty–could be lessened if women in sub-Saharan Africa could control their fertility, the report says and recommends those women gain access to “modern tools of contraception.” The report also stresses the importance of supporting education in Africa. A staggering 60% of the continent’s people are age 25 or younger, compared with 27% of Europeans, and the median age in Africa is only 18, compared to 35 in North America. If the number of young people who receive an education could rise, Africa could become a “human capital” powerhouse that could boost the entire economy.

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