Addis Ababa – February 10, 2020
Today, Bill and Melinda Gates shared their 2020 Annual Letter. It celebrates the significant progress made to alleviate poverty and tackle health issues around the world.
The letter, titled “Why We Swing for the Fences: Reflecting on the First Two Decades of Our Foundation” reflects on some of the risks they’ve taken in health and education.
“At the core of our foundation’s work is the idea that every person deserves the chance to live a healthy and productive life,” writes Bill and Melinda Gates. “Twenty years later, despite how much things have changed, that is still our most important driving principle.”
Ethiopia has made remarkable progress in recent years, achieving some of the fastest rates in the world in lifting people out of extreme poverty. The nation’s poverty rate has decreased by 46% since 2000. Ethiopia’s drastic reduction in child mortality, and the country’s efforts to reduce maternal mortality, are notable. Since 1990, the under-five mortality rate in Ethiopia has decreased from 191 per 1,000 births to 57 per 1,000 births. At the same time, maternal mortality rates have reduced by two-thirds to 191 per 100,000.
Child stunting rates from malnutrition have decreased by 25% since 1990, which is a step in the right direction. However, approximately four in ten Ethiopian children remain at risk of never fulfilling their potential as a result of malnutrition. The under-five mortality rate has decreased by two-thirds since 1990 and estimates of maternal mortality are 191 per 100,000.
In the letter, Melinda says: “We’ll fund new advances in family planning and maternal and newborn health, and we’ll explore new ways of preventing the scourge of malnutrition. That’s because improvements in health are key to lifting people out of poverty.”
Much of Ethiopia’s success can be attributed to the government’s commitment to growing its agricultural sector. Agriculture is the backbone of Ethiopia’s economy, providing 65% of employment and accounting for 31% of the country’s GDP. However, as climate change worsens and Ethiopia’s population continues to grow, farmers are being pushed to drier areas. As a result, crops are harder to grow, leaving food supplies at risk and the country’s progress in jeopardy.
In the letter, Bill comments on work being done to mitigate the impact of climate change: “I’m also hopeful that our foundation’s work on agriculture will play a key role in helping farmers withstand climate change. Over a decade ago, we began funding research into drought- and flood-tolerant varieties of staple crops like maize and rice. These new varieties are already helping farmers grow more food in some parts of Africa and India, and more climate-smart crop options will become available in more places in the years to come.”
He continues: “Our role as philanthropists is not only to take risks that support innovation but to work with our partners to overcome the challenges of scale in delivering it. We believe that progress should benefit everyone, everywhere.”
To read the letter in its entirety, visit www.gatesletter.com