No, we cannot.
Sachs poses it as purely economical problem, while in fact the most poverty stricken regions are either at war with neighboring countries, having a civil war or both (and it's actually hard to tell, as country borders don't coincide with ethnic regions).
The poorest region of the world is Congo and it's neighbors including Uganda, Rwanda. That region is at constant turmoil, with numerous belligerents ranging from ethnic, religious or plain crazy (eg. Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army).
Just in that region you have:
- FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda)
- CNDP (National Congress for the Defence of the People)
- LRA (Lord's Resistance Army)
- AFDL (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo)
... and the list goes on and on. This is just one small part of central Africa.
Another extremely poor region is Somalia. Currently the most violent region in the world. It's at constant civil war since 1991, with numerous belligerents. Currently coalition of these loyal to government fighting against coalition of Islamist insurgents.
UN tried to intervene there in 1992, which led to US military fiasco known as Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 (later depicted in a movie). Whole UN intervention proved to be a fiasco and was terminated in 1995. The cost on US side was estimated to be $7bn ($11.2bn inflation adjusted), and has allegedl saved lives of 10,000 Somalis. Which gives cost of $700,000 ($1,120,000 inflation adjusted) per Somali allegedly saved (source).
Afghanistan is another of the poorest regions in the world. The cost of US intervention in Afghanistan alone already exceeds $550bn.
Overall, to solve problem of poverty in Africa, you'd need military peacekeeping action on unprecedented scale. As previous attempts in Somalia show, it's neither cheap nor easy. As runaway costs of Iraq and Afghanistan wars show, the military costs can easily reach trillions of dollars. And that's not even starting to count the humanitarian help, the restoration of infrastructure, education etc.
And besides all that, the author of the article mentioned as source of the claim, suggest getting the money from... reduced military spending.
Update, to answer Oddthinking's question from comments. Sachs proposal (source) is as follows:
- Agricultural imports like fertilizers will greatly improve crop yields in many poor countries and improved crops are the first step
out of poverty.
- Investments in basic health such as anti-malarial nets and effective anti-malarial medication for areas with mosquito problems.
- Treatments for AIDs/HIV and its attendant opportunistic infections.
- Anti-retroviral medications for late-stage AIDs.
- Skilled birth attendants and sexual and reproductive health services.
- Investments in education including food for school-aged children.
- Electricity could be made available via power lines or an off-grid diesel generator and could power lights and perhaps a computer for
schools, pumps for safe well water, milling grain and other food
processing, refrigeration and cooking.
- Safe drinking water and sanitation facilities must be made available to everyone and having water sources near villages would save hours
of carting water daily.
In other words, he does not address the issue of war and violence at all.
Nor is it included as the condition preventing a country from economical advance:
Countries that move backwards can normally be characterized by some
or all of the following conditions:
- They lack savings and, therefore, the flexibility to adapt to changing the market.
- There is a lack of trade with other countries to bring in hard currency. Usually, trade is reduced or blocked by unreliable trade
routes, monetary chaos, price controls or other forms of government
intervention that impede specialization and trade.
- Technological reversal occurs because imperative techniques fail to be passed on from one generation to another.
- Natural resource declines, such as a reduction in arable land or lowered production of other sorts of resources.
- There is a change to a different solution for the problem the country’s natural resource had previously solved.
- Adverse productivity shock for unanticipated reasons such as floods, droughts, heat waves and diseases can wipe out income.
- Population growth causes the amount of resources to be divided among more and more people.