|Number of Pages
In this hard-hitting new book, Paul Polak tells why traditional poverty eradication programs have fallen so short, and how he and his organization developed an alternative approach that has succeeded in lifting 17 million people out of poverty.
Based on his 25 years of experience, Polak explodes what he calls the Three Great Poverty Eradication Myths: that we can donate people out of poverty, that national economic growth will end poverty, and that Big Business, operating as it does now, will end poverty. Polak shows that programs based on these ideas have utterly failed in fact, in sub-Saharan Africa, poverty rates have actually gone up.
These failed top-down efforts contrast sharply with the grassroots approach Polak and IDE have championed: helping the dollar-a-day poor earn more money through their own efforts. Amazingly enough, unexploited market opportunities do exist for the desperately poor. Polak describes how he and others have identified these opportunities and have developed innovative, low-cost tools that have helped impoverished rural farmers use the market to improve their lives.
Throughout the book, Polak tells fascinating and moving stories about the people he and IDE have helped, especially Krishna Bahadur Thapa, a Nepali farmer who went from barely surviving to earning 4,800 a year solidly upper middle class by local standards. Out of Poverty offers a new and promising way to end world poverty, one that honors the entrepreneurial spirit of the poor themselves.
About the Author
In 1981 Paul Polak founded International Development Enterprises (IDE), the non-profit organization he currently heads as president. Through his work with IDE, he has helped over 17 million impoverished farmers in developing countries to escape the cycle of subsistence poverty. IDE makes innovative, low-cost water- resource technologies accessible to the worlds poorest farmers, enabling them to access and control water, increase and diversify agricultural production, create new wealth, and improve their families quality of life.
Polaks and IDEs achievements have been recognized by the Scientific American Top Fifty Award for Agriculture Policy (2003), the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award (2004), and the Tech Museum award for the design of IDEs low-cost drip irrigation system (2004). Polak gives frequent talks at leading universities like Stanford and MIT, as well as academic and professional conferences like the 2006 International Symposium on Groundwater Sustainability (ISGWAS), the Annual Meeting of the National Collegiate Innovators and Inventors Association (NCIIA), the 2006 Aspen Design Summit, and the 2007 Pop!Tech Conference.