World Development

World Development: WD1 


Basic Human Needs

There are basic human needs and these have an impact on resource utilisation.

• People have basic human needs, material and social.

These include:

·         food, shelter, clothing, fuel

·         clean water, sanitation, transport, healthcare; employment

·         a healthy and safe environment

·         ability to take part in decision-making

The level of these needs depends on the different levels of development.  For example, people in Kenya may have limited basic needs, whereas in the UK electricity and access to computers may be considered basic needs.

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Case Studies to highlight impacts on the environme

  • The Fuelwood Crisis in Nepal – The growing demand for fuel and lack of sustainable measures has led to a crisis.  Deforestation has impacted the physical rural environment and has affected the livelihoods of the Nepalese people.
  • Bhopal – The need for chemicals and pesticides for agriculture leads to an increase in factories.  There were several factors that led up to the disaster in Bhopal, killing thousands of people.  This case study clearly illustrates the impact that resource utilisation in a modern world has on both the environment and the health and well being of humans.
  • The Water Crisis – The following case studies illustrate the growing concerns over the world’s water and the problems that arise, such as pollution leading to poor health, overuse of water supplies and poor irrigation has led to the drying up of resources, conflicts, privatisation and increasing costs on water:   The Nile, The Aral Sea (Kazakhstan & Uzbekistan),  Lake Chad, The River Ganges,  Ogallala AquiferPrivatisation in Bolivia,   Coca-Cola in Rajastan
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Environmental Tolerance

There are limits to environmental tolerance which affect the availability of resources. 

• Economic growth and population pressure have led to a depletion of the world's natural resources. There continues to be much debate about whether the earth can sustain further growth in the use of its resources and development. Models such as those of Malthus and Boserup attempt to help us understand population – resource relationships.

Malthus – Pessimistic view:  Food is produced arithmetically, whilst the population continues to grow exponentially.  Therefore there will come a point when the production of food will be unable to meet the demands of a growing population.

Boserup – Optimistic view:  Necessity is the mother of invention.  As the population continues to grow, we will meet the demands of food supplies by improving existing technologies to produce more efficiently, as we have always done in the past.

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Example for Boserup: Mauritius

  • Birth rate had risen sharply from 35 to 45+ per thousand
  • Death Rate had declined sharply from 30 to 15 per thousand
  • Rate of natural increase suddenly very steep

 Government Intervention 

The Government organised a family planning programme, aiming to: improve the status of women, restrict early marriage, provide better health care, set up a family planning service.

  • improved educational opportunities for women
  • improved female work opportunities
  • Diversification of agriculture
  • Investment in industry
  • Improved trading links - as an ex colony of the UK it is quite ‘westernised’ and has a democratic, stable Government - this has helped forge links with the USA
  • Many TNC’s are drawn to Mauritius, freeport, cheap labor, well educated 
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Example for Malthus: Easter Island

The population of Easter Island reached its peak at perhaps more than 10,000, far exceeding the capabilities of the small island's ecosystem. Resources became scarce, and the once lush palm forests were destroyed - cleared for agriculture and moving the massive stone Moai. In this regard, Easter Island has become, for many, a metaphor for ecological disaster.

Thereafter, a thriving and advanced social order began to decline into bloody civil war and, evidently, cannibalism. Eventually, all of the Moai standing along the coast were torn down by the islanders themselves. All of the statues now erected around the island are the result of recent archaeological efforts.

Contacts with western civilization proved even more disastrous for the island population which, through slavery and disease, had decreased to approximately 110 by the turn of the century. Following the annexation by Chile in 1888, however, it has risen to more than 2,000, with other Rapanui living in Chile, Tahiti and North America. Despite a growing Chilean presence, the island's Polynesian identity is still quite strong.

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Strategies to reduce population pressures

Strategies to Reduce Population Pressures                      

China’s One Child Policy was introduced in 1979.  Although it is still in operation, it is not as strongly implemented as it was in during the 1980s as families tend to have fewer children today through their own choice. 

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Resource utilisation in a globalised world may hav

Water utilisation in Kazakhstan affects the Aral Sea and Uzbekhistan

The Aral Sea environmental crisis has been created by poor water management in the river basins of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya. Nearly all the flow is abstracted for ailing irrigation schemes in the upper and middle basins, for massive river basin transfer schemes, or is lost to evaporation and seepage from reservoirs and canals.                                 

The sea, located on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, was once the fourth largest lake in the world. However, it continues to shrink despite regional commitments to halt the draining of the rivers that feed it. It is now a quarter of its original size.   Over the last 40 years an estimated 45 million mt of salt-contaminated dust has been created due to the shrinking, resulting in massive health problems such as TB and cancer that affect millions of people, experts say.

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Sustainable Development

The responsible use of resources for development involves sustainable development.

• Sustainable Development is sensitive both to the needs of people to improve their livelihoods and the management of the environment to preserve it for the future.  

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Local Agenda 21

At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the United Nations agreed that the best starting point for the achievement of sustainable development is at the local level. In fact, two thirds of the 2500 action items of Agenda 21 relate to local councils. Each local authority has had to draw up its own Local Agenda 21 (LA21) strategy following discussion with its citizens about what they think is important for the area. The principle of sustainable development must form a central part of the strategy. LA21 regards sustainable development as a community issue, involving all sections of society, including community groups, businesses and ethnic minorities. Involvement of the whole society will give everyone the opportunity to participate and will generate a resource of enthusiasm, talent and expertise, which is vital to achieve sustainable development. Many local authorities have begun schemes of co-operation to allow them to exchange ideas about sustainable development. Groups of local authorities can join together to give themselves a louder voice to influence large companies. As part of Local Agenda 21 in Liverpool, for example, the public and the city council have drawn up their own indicators to discover the success of sustainable development. These indicators include the number of parks and people living close to them, education standards and crime figures. In Cheshire, the local authority has set up a transport task group as part of its LA21. This aims to set up commuter plans to discourage people from travelling by car.

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Send A Cow

Send a Cow provides livestock and training to poor families in Africa. Our aim is to supply subsistence farmers with the means and skills to work their way out of poverty for good. An animal brings many benefits to a poor family. Its milk, eggs or meat enrich the family’s diet. Any surplus can be sold to bring in an extra income. And the animal’s manure is vital for improving soil, so a family can grow more vegetables to eat and to sell.As our programme has expanded, we have begun to adapt our model to apply to new situations. People in some areas are not able to keep livestock so we give them bees and fruit trees, which provide honey and fruit for eating and for sale. We also give them training in how to grow vegetables in harsh terrains. Whatever we give, it helps a family earn money for households basics that they cannot grow or make themselves, such as soap, rice, paraffin and clothes. Some families use the extra money for repairs to their homes or to buy goods that will enable them to set up small businesses: a sewing machine, for example, or more land on which to grow cash crops such as coffee.But above all, recipients spend the money on items their children need to get through school: paper, pens, books, and in some countries, fees. A gift of livestock allows a family to stop living from hand-to-mouth, and start planning for a better future. 

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Practical Action

Has a unique approach to development – we don't start with technology, but with people. The tools may be simple or sophisticated – but to provide long-term, appropriate and practical answers, they must be firmly in the hands of local people: people who shape technology and control it for themselves.

Nepal is a small country in the Himalayan mountains between India and Tibet.In Nepal, approximately 10% of the population has access to electricity from the national grid.Over the past few years, many villages in the mountainous areas that do not have access to the national grid have installed micro-hydro units. The hydro schemes use water from the fast-flowing rivers that thunder down the Himalayan mountains. The water is diverted from the stream or river to drive a water turbine. Often the turbine drive belt is hooked to the drive shaft of a food processing appliance, eg. to mechanically turn the grindstones to mill grain.  The most common use of micro-hydro schemes is for agricultural processes, such as milling grain or de-hulling rice. Increasingly, there are some micro-hydro schemes which have been designed to produce electricity. In this scheme the water turbine drive belt is connected to a small generator or alternator to produce electricity.

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Top Down and Bottom Up Approaches

There are different views on, and approaches to, the use and management of natural resources.

A "top down" approach is one where an executive, decision maker, or other person or body makes a decision, in the case of development this often refers to governments.  This approach is disseminated under their authority to lower levels in the hierarchy, who are, to a greater or lesser extent, bound by them.  For example, a structure in which decisions either are approved by government, or approved by authorised representatives based on the government’s prior guidelines is top-down management.

A "bottom up" approach is one that works from the grassroots — from a large number of people working together, causing a decision to arise from their joint involvement. A decision by a number of activists, students, or victims of some incident to take action is a "bottom-up" decision.  This strategy often resembles a "seed" model, whereby the beginnings are small but eventually grow in complexity and completeness.

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Bottom Up Study

Recycling in Dharavi, India

Dharavi, “the largest slum in Asia”, is spread over some 430 acres of land, has a population of about 6 lakh people. It used to be marshy land, unfit for habitation but the poor of India from its different States came to Mumbai and reclaimed the land, making it idlis to potters to tanners to manufacturers of airline cutlery and crockery. In Dharavi, there is a place for everybody and if you want to earn some money, there is always work to be found and food to eat.By adopting a bottom-up approach, through community participation, there are now workers who make only Rs. 300 a month and there are a few entrepreneurs who even earn Rs. 300,000 a month. There are accommodations like ‘pongal houses’, where the poorer residents sleep in 3 different shifts, fully utilizing the bed space available. Potters smuggle clay and make Diwali diyas you and I buy at extremely cheap rates. Scrap and garbage recycling are major sources of employment and income generation. As families consolidate their economic gains, their aspirations soar. Today, there are 21 children of Dharavi that we know of studying in medical college and more than 40 doing engineering courses. 

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Other Relevant Case Studies

Bottom Up: 

- Send A Cow 

- Micro Hydro in Nepal (Practical Action)

- Role of Panchayati Raj 

Top Down:

- Tehri Dam 


- Redevelopment of Dharavi Slums 

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Modernisation Theory

For a country to be seen as modern, modernisation theorists say it has to undergo an evolutionary advance in science and technology which in turn would lead to an increased standard of living for all.  That some countries have not modernised is seen to be the result of internal factors such as poverty and, inadequate culture, impacts from the war and communism.  Traditional rather than modern values also hold a country back from developing, such as ascription and collectivism rather than achievement and individualism.This theory is based on Rostow’s five stages of economic growth and advocates the following to stimulate development: Western investment in factories, expertise and equipment – use loans from World Bank to ‘trickle down’.  Western funding should aim to introduce meritocratic education and mass media to disseminate modern ideas e.g. nuclear families.  Urbanisation should also be encouraged.  With such help from the west poor countries would develop; capitalist entrepreneurial middle class to develop business opportunities; high mass consumption; an urban population and lifestyles of conspicuous consumption.It is criticised for assuming unlimited resources for industrial expansions and for being ethnocentric because it devalues traditional values, ignores increasing inequality between countries and it promotes western capitalist views.  

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Dependency Theory

Dependency refers to over reliance on another nation. Dependency theory uses political and economic theory to explain how the process of international trade and domestic development makes some developing countries ever more economically dependent on developed countries.

Dependency theory refers to relationships and links between developed and developing economies and regions.  It sees underdevelopment as the result of unequal power relationships between rich developed capitalist countries and poor developing ones.

Powerful developed countries dominate dependent powerless countries via the capitalist system.  Dominant countries have such a technological and industrial advantage that they can ensure the ‘rules of the game’ (as set out by World Bank and IMF) works in their own self interest. In the Dependency model underdevelopment is an externally induced system. Growth can only be achieved in a closed economy and the pursuit of self-reliance through planning.  Only a breakdown of the world capitalist system and a redistribution of assets (eg elimination of world debt) will ‘free’ developing countries from the unequal relationship.

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The Arusha Declaration

The Arusha Declaration was made by Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere in1967, outlining the principles of Ujamaa (Nyerere's vision of socialism) to develop the nation's economy. The declaration called for an overhaul of the economic system, through African socialism and self-reliance in locally administered villages through a villagisation program.  This was implemented in 1973-76, sought to transform the pattern of rural settlement by congregating the rural population in nucleated villages of sufficient size to be efficient (in bureaucratic terms) units for the delivery of services. Involved in this plan was the idea that the new villages could also become the basis for a socialist system of production.

The formulation of the Basic Industrial Strategy involved a definite shift from the priority given to rural development in the declaration. There was increasing centralisation of economic authority and urgency in the implementation of programs. The attempt to enforce the villagisation ("Ujamaa Villages") program over two years, the abolition of cooperatives and local government, and the commitment to achieve universal primary education in two years, all reflected an impatience to achieve political goals swiftly, even if it meant the loss of the principle of decentralised participatory rural development associated with the Arusha Declaration rhetoric and downplaying realism in the implementation of policies.  Politically and socially the declaration was hugely unpopular. In 1974 Operation Dodoma forced collectivisation of farming with the use of the military.

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Case Study: Amazon Rainforest (1)

Tropical forests are being destroyed at an ever-increasing rate. Estimates of the extent and rate of loss vary, but it appears that nearly half of the world's tropical forests already have been lost, and the remainder will all but disappear in the next two to three decades. The loss is incalculable. These forests provide habitat for an estimated half of the world's plant and animal species, provide water and fuel for much of the world's population, and influence regional and global climate. Commercial logging, clearance for agriculture, ranching, and fuel gathering are all responsible for the destruction. Solutions include the development of alternative fuelwood supplies through fuelwood plantations, the regulation of logging, and a consensus as to the value of forest conservation over commercial development. 

  • Housing:  One of the major purposes for the clearing of the forest is for housing. This happens in countries where the population is growing rapidly, e.g. Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. In addition, more houses are built in deforested areas to resettle people from crowded and heavily urbanised and densely populated cities in Brazil such as Rio De Janerio and Sao Paulo. The picture on your right is Manaus in Brazil and it shows forest land being cleared for housing
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Case Study: Amazon Rainforest (2)

  • Agriculture:  Extensive areas of the tropical rainforest have been cleared to grow pasture for cattle rearing and to cultivate crops for subsistence and commercial agriculture. Cattle ranching is an important source of farming activity in many Amazonian countries like Brazil, Colombia and Peru just to name a few. The export to beef to developed countries such as USA, Canada and Japan is extremely profitable and brings in valuable revenue to poor South American countries. As a result, the Amazonian governments encourage cattle ranching by offering financial aid and tax rebates to cattle ranchers. This has resulted in extensive areas of the tropical rainforest being burnt and cut down so that grass and pasture can be grown for cattle.
  • Transport:  The building of roads and the 3300 km east - west Transamazonia Highway have resulted in the extensive deforestation of the Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest. The building of the highway has also made much of the interior of the tropical rainforest of the Amazon Basin more accessible to people. As a result, more areas of the rainforest have been cleared and developed for other land uses.
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Case Study: Amazon Rainforest (3)

  • Timber:  The rising demand in Japan, Germany, France, Italy and the USA and Canada for hardwoods has contributed to the extensive damage. In addition, the use of modern, efficient equipment such as chain-saws, bulldozers, trucks and tractors means that large areas of rainforest can be cleared rapidly in a fairly short time. 
  • Mineral Ores:  There are large deposits of gold, bauxite,, iron ore, tin ore and diamonds in the Amazon Basin. In order to extract these minerals, large areas of the forest have been cleared. For instance, about one-sixth of Brazil's tropical rainforest (900,000 km²) has been leared to mine the high quality iron ore found there.
  • Oil:  Oil is being extracted from the Ecuador's tropical rainforest. More then 10,000 km² of the tropical rainforest have been cleared for this purpose as well as to build roads and refiniries for processing the crude oil.
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  • Loss of soil fertility
  • Increase in water pollution and flooding
  • Increase in Greenhouse Effect
  • Loss of plant and animal species
  • Destruction of habitat and culture of indigenous people
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