"Once we wake up to global poverty, we see all kinds of connections. We see ourselves reflected in others half a world away. We see poverty around the world echoed in the United States. We see how the threads of poverty, health, education, and the environment are tightly interwoven. We see the relationships among how children grow, how women are treated, and how families fare.
"Poverty is more than just a lack of money it is a lack of opportunity, rights, and resources. It is created by ill health and poor or no health care, inadequate housing and transportation, illiteracy, and racial and gender discrimination. It can be affected by things as personal as one's actions and as uncontrollable as the weather. Poverty is caused by things as small as lacking a few dollars of credit and as large as war, national debt, and international trade policies. It is affected by things as immediate as access to clean water and as long range as the state of the environment. Poverty is influenced by things as pervasive as racism and sexism and as isolated as an accident or event in someone's life. As much as we might long for a simple explanation for poverty, or a single solution to end it, we must tackle it as the complex, interrelated challenge that it is.
"But here's some good news: Just as the problems are interconnected, so too are the solutions. Solving one part of the problem can have a positive ripple effect. Consider water, for instance. By providing clean, accessible water to a family or village in sub-Saharan Africa, the women and children no longer spend hours lugging water from a distant source and are spared from many waterborne illnesses. As a result, they now have time and good health, so adults can generate income and children can learn. With accessible water, crops can be irrigated, which together with fertilizer and better seeds dramatically increases crop production. With more food, family members are no longer malnourished, are strengthened to stave off or recover from illness, and are better able to earn a living and prepare for the future. That one action of providing clean water is more than just a drop in the bucket; from it flow all sorts of lifesaving, poverty-ending benefits to individuals, families, villages, and ultimately the world.
"Our generation is the first to have the resources, technology, and knowledge to end poverty. But it won't be easy. Eradicating poverty calls for a comprehensive approach that ensures every person has the rights, opportunities, and resources to secure an income and the necessary food, health care, education, clean water, housing, and transportation to move or stay out of poverty. Eliminating poverty calls for partnerships large and small to transform our environment, trade policies, and international development. Ending poverty calls for direct actions to ease immediate suffering and systemic change to implement long-term solutions. We will shape the end of poverty by how we use our resources close at hand and how we increase the resources of those far away. All we need is the will to act."