Development Dilemmas - Geography (GCSE Edexcel)

Revision cards for the Development Dilemmas chapter of Geography Edexcel GCSE Specification B.

  • Created by: cg97
  • Created on: 23-01-13 12:08

The 'Green Revolution'

During the 1960s, starvation was common in India. Then, in the 1970s, the Green Revolution changed rice growing by providing farmers with HYV (High Yielding Variety) seeds.

The new rice plants...

  • were shorter
  • grew more quickly
  • produced more grain than traditional rice

The results of them were mixed...

  • farmers have to buy seeds every year instead of using some saved from the previous year's harvest
  • Althought they are high yielding, they need irrigation water, fertilisers and pesticides. - only wealthy farmers can afford this
  • Incomes have risen because of increase in yield

India is now a rice exporter. But the environmental impacts of using fertiliser and pesticides have meant that HYVs have no resistance to plant diseases,

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The 'Gene Revolution'

The 'Gene Revolution' is all about genetic modification.

The way it works is scientists take genes from one organism and put them into another, creating new plant varieties.

Genetically modified (GM) crops are controlled by TNCs. Using patent laws, they 'own' every GM plant grown from their seed.

Some force farmers to sign contracts to use only their chemicals, or prevent them from saving seed to use next year.

Wealthier farmers only seem to benefit from this scheme. And again, pooper Indian farmers won't.

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Top Down Development

Top Down Development is where decisions are made by governments or by private companies.

The decisions are imposed on people because there will be benefits.

Top-down development involves:

  • decision-makers looking at a 'big picture' to identify need or opportunity
  • experts helping plan it
  • local people being told about it but with no say in whether it will happen or not

The argument is that people gain by a process called 'trickle down'. For example: jobs, wealth and other benefits 'trickle down' to the poor.

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The Sardar Sarovar Dam - CASE STUDY

The dam is situated in India and the scheme will take roughly one hundred years to complete.

The dam is across the Narmada River and, though it is not yet complete, it is already one of the world's largest dams.

When complete, it will provide water all year round to areas of India that are particularly prone to drought.

Benefits of the dam:

  • multi-purpose: provides drinking water and hydroelectric power
  • irrigate farmland: a series of canals distribute the water to other states in India and this will irrigate farmland in the driest parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh
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The Sardar Sarovar Dam - CASE STUDY

Problems caused by the scheme:

  • 234 villages have been drowned so far. This has forced 320,000 people out of their homes
  • religious and historic sites have been flooded
  • few villages can afford the electricity generates meaning that only cities benefit from the scheme
  • good quality farm land has been submerged

( showing the location of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in the Narmada River

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Bottom Up Development

Bottom up development means experts working with local communities to identify their needs, giving local people control in improving their lives and experts assissting with progress.

ASTRA (Application of Science and Technology in Rural Areas) has been a major bottom-up development project in India.

It started as a research project at the University of Bangalore - in the state of Karnataka.

The way the scheme worked is experts went into villages to find out what people's lives were like. They spoke to families, recorded how they spent their time and listened to the problems they encounter in day-to-day life.

The main two problems were:

  • Time
  • Fuelwood
  • Lack of Education
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Bottom Up Development


Daily routine for most rural families, takes too long. Especially for women and girls. There is cleaning, fuel collection, preparing and cooking food, fetching water, tending sacred cows and looking after the vegetable patch.


As population is increasing, so is the demand for fuelwood meaning that it is becoming more scarce to find - equalling families have to walk further to get it. As a result, more families are turning to cow dung as a resource instead. This has many health implements such as lung and eye problems because of the smoke.

Lack of Education

Rural girls have little education - very few even complete primary school. This means that most marry early and maintain a high fertility rate - increasing the population even more.

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Bottom Up Development - THE SOLUTION

The solution, experts discovered, was cow dung.

It can be used to produce biogas - this can be used for cooking and for powering electricity generators.

Cow dung is no longer collected and stored in homes for burning as a replacement for wood, but instead it is fed into a pit that is lined with either brick, clay or concrete.

The pit is sealed by a metal dome under which the dung ferments to produce methane. As the pressure builds up, the methane is then piped into homes.

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Biogas - The Benefits for People

  • Results in a smoke and ash-free kitchen. This results in eye and lung problems being reduced
  • Women and children are freed from the chore of collecting firewood
  • About 80% of families use this time to earn extra income
  • Fung fermentation within the pit destroys pathogens. As a result, sanitation and human health have greatly improved
  • Across India, four million cow dung biogas plants have been built creating roughly two-hunfred-thousand permanent jobs in rural areas
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Biogas - The Benefits for the Environment

  • Cattle are now kept in the family compound to make collecting dung easier. Previously, cattle would have grazed in the forest and prevented woodland from regenerating
  • The slurry which remains after fermentation is richer in nutrients than raw animal manure. When it is added to the soil, it guarantees higher yields of crops
  • 277 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide emissions savings have been achieved from the biogas plants
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Sustainable Development

"Meeting the need of the present without compromising the ability of the future" ~ Our Common Future (1987)

10 rules for sustainable development:

  • 1. Involve loval people in decision-making
  • 2. Be affordable
  • 3. Promote good health
  • 4. Protect and encourage native plants and animals
  • 5. Use land that's been developed before where possible
  • 6. Minimise waste and encourage re-use and recycling
  • 7. Minimise energy use
  • 8. Minimise water use
  • 9. Minimise pollution
  • 10. Offer benefits to the poor and disadvantaged as well as the wealthy
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Sustainable Case Study - Gujarat

The National Tree Grower' Cooperative Federation is trying to reclaim India's scrublands sustainably.

It organises villagers to reclaim degraded land by planting trees then finding ways of processing and marketing the wood harvested from those trees. Once they cut the trees down, they plant another one in it's place.

The participation of women, landless and marginal farmers, private landowners is a key focus.

Besides jobs, the project meets villager's needs for livestock fodder, food, fruit and fuelwood.

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Reforms in Kerala (India) - CASE STUDY

Kerala is situated in Southern India on the coastline. It is roughly twice the size of Wales with a population of around 32 million people. It is one of India's most densley populated states.

Kerala's focus is mainly on education and healthcare.

These reforms were based on bottum-up approaches to health and education, based around communities. Almost all villages have access to a school and a modern health clinic within 2.5km.

Taxation pays for this.

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Mr A Gibson


This is one of two sets of cards I recommend you print out and combine to use as a resource on this topic. Add them together and you will be well up on this topic. Some great examples and some detailed case studies too.

Part 1 - this resource

Part 2 - access this here

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