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Gates Gift to Work Toward Millennium Development Goals

An African woman cooks using a fuel-efficient cookstove.

Poverty means much more than failing to make a decent day’s wage. It impacts public health, community development, and even national political stability. It follows, then, that alleviating poverty requires an integrated approach spanning many fields, such as health, agriculture, education and sustainable economic development. The Earth Institute, specializing in a holistic approach to poverty reduction, is pleased to announce that it will be able to expand its efforts through a recent grant renewal from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The $15 million award, supporting innovations in science and policy, will support the institute’s multi-disciplinary work toward achieving the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.

In the fall of 2006, the Earth Institute received a Special Initiatives grant from the Gates Foundation in support of multi-disciplinary scientific innovation that focuses on identifying new ways to help impoverished countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The goals, a set of eight internationally agreed-upon, time-bound targets to fight extreme poverty, disease and inequality, have given the international community clear goals in its efforts to improve the lives of millions of people. For the past five years, the Earth Institute has been able to pursue research with the aim of effectively achieving these goals by looking to improve agriculture, health, infrastructure and policy design and implementation in the countries with the greatest need.

A community health worker measures arm circumference in Bonsasso, Ghana.

The grant renewal will allow researchers to develop plans to expand the achievements of the first five years by working to promote new technologies and techniques on both the local and national levels.

On a larger scale, the research and policy teams will continue to advise and collaborate on a national level to help governments integrate the knowledge gained from the Earth Institute’s research in nationwide development strategies. On the local level, the Earth Institute will continue working with communities to help them organize and implement projects, such as school lunch programs, in an effective and sustainable manner.

By working with both governments and community members, researchers will be better able to help impoverished communities help themselves. Because of the difficulty of connecting rural communities to electrical grids, researchers have developed a system for delivering electricity through the creation of mobile, small-scale smart grids in Kenya.  In response to the need for greater metrics and flow of health care information, community health workers in Ghana are now using mobile phones to relay information and receive guidance regarding treatment for the households they visit. And because children in rural areas have limited access to a quality education, engineers are creating new systems for the use of information communications technology in classrooms to provide students with a 21st century education.

Thanks to the generous support of The Gates Foundation, the Earth Institute will be able to build on these technologies and other breakthroughs to reduce poverty and improve the livelihoods of people around the globe.

Columbia campus skyline with text Columbia Climate School Class Day 2024 - Congratulations Graduates

Congratulations to our Columbia Climate School MA in Climate & Society Class of 2024! Learn about our May 10 Class Day celebration. #ColumbiaClimate2024

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