Ending Poverty

Sharks, Pigs, & Coconuts: Economic Development and Mental Health by Paul R. Polak, M.D.

This research article was written by Dr. Paul Polak in the 1970’s while he was the Executive Director, Southwest Denver Community Mental Health Services, Inc., 1611 South Federal Blvd., Denver, CO. 80219. * Paper presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, San Francisco, CA., March 1978.   The most effective mental health program… Read More »

What’s Your Legacy? VLOG with Paul Polak

Achieving Scale

Scale is the single biggest unmet challenge in development and impact investment today. IDE, the development organization I founded, has helped some 20 million people living on a $1/day move out of poverty, but this is a drop in the bucket compared to the 2.7 billion people still living on less than $2/day.  About the only… Read More »

Transforming Solar Pumping to Eliminate Rural Poverty

What if we could harness the limitless power of the sun to carry  water to the crops of millions of small poor farmers around the world? If I want to water my petunias, I turn on the tap outside my house, hold my thumb over the end of a battered green hose, and water away…. Read More »

Big Dams or Sprinkling Cans?

By Paul Polak Everybody in the world knows about big dams. They do irreparable damage to the environment and the  millions of people they displace, but we need to keep building a few of them to feed the nine billion people we expect will live on planet earth when its population stabilizes. Ten years ago, ten world… Read More »

Paul is on Vacation this Week, and an Introduction to Three of Paul’s Organizations

Paul Polak is taking a well deserved break this week, but will be back and writing next week.  We wanted to take this opportunity to introduce those of you who are new to the work Paul has done to three of the organizations Paul has founded of co-founded.  IDE, D-REV and most recently Windhorse International… Read More »


by Paul Polak Replicating the Functions of the Aswan Dam on Two Acre Farms: Like all big dams, the High Aswan dam traps monsoon rainwater and stores it in the 550 km long Nasser Lake behind it, and distributes it by canal to farmers’ fields during dry season, when irrigation water is desperately needed to… Read More »

Want to Scale-Up your Development Project? Make a Bollywood Movie

By Paul Polak In the late 1980’s after launching IDE, I knew we had a big problem. We were convinced that treadle pumps, a simple $25 StairMaster device that could earn a net income of $100 a year or more for one-acre farmers could make a huge impact in Bangladesh. And we knew that market… Read More »

Why Growing Income is More Important to Food Security than Growing More Food

If we have the courage to do it, I have no doubt that at least a hundred million of the 230 million hungry people now in India, and their brothers and sisters in other developing countries, can end their food insecurity forever.

Why Ending Poverty is Greener than Green

I believe that ending extreme poverty can have a greater positive impact on the environment than just about anything else we can do.
Because of its central role in population growth, climate change, loss of biodiversity and conflict, implementing practical solutions to extreme poverty is probably the first place to start if you want to make a significant contribution to preserving the environmental balance of the planet.
Practical solutions to extreme poverty already exist. If organizations like IDE and the Grameen Bank have helped some 40 million extremely poor people move out of poverty, what’s stopping us from scaling up the market driven approaches that can do the same for a billion people?