Overpopulation And Poverty In The Developing World Essay, Research Paper
“We can’t expect the poor to limit their family sizes when they need children to help support their family. The real problem in their world is not overpopulation but poverty and the unequal distribution of wealth. These must be tackled first.”
Examine this statement and discuss appropriate solutions.
While overpopulation is a problem that plagues many developing nations, it would be wrong to assume that it is their main problem, or that the countering of overpopulation should receive priority above all else. There are more serious problems facing the third world. Poverty and the unequal distribution of wealth are two that must be dealt with first.
The causes of poverty and inequality are very complex and there is no single solution to such vast problems. However, the problems could generally be reduced by the equal distribution of basic resources such as food, land and water.
These Basic human needs can be met in three steps. Firstly, by investing a small amount of capital in items such as seeds, irrigation, tools and know-how. Secondly, by restructuring education to meet the needs of the local community and provide practical knowledge, and thirdly, the government needs to be able to provide things such as advice, transport, marketing and irrigation to encourage community schemes and initiatives.
Once the communities have access to such resources they are able to begin obtaining the basic needs of food, land and water.
The world is not short of food. The famine and malnutrition present in many developing countries is not due to a limited supply of food world wide. There are mountains of food world wide that are being stockpiled by the developed countries. The people of the third world are suffering because they are unable to gain access to food, or cannot afford to purchase it.
While emergency food aid should be provided in response to disasters such as the Ethiopian famine or the floods of Bangladesh, it must not be viewed as a long term solution. Despite enabling some lives to be saved, it fails to remove the underlying causes of hunger. The cycles of starvation continue through drought and flood, war and problems with food distribution.
The solution to hunger is far more complex than the brief food aid packages delivered. In addition to this form of aid there are a number of other changes that must take place.
Poor countries need to shift the focus of their agricultural industry away from the export market and concentrate on growing crops that are appropriate to the needs of the local community. Small-scale farming should be encouraged and not be overlooked for large cash cropping.
While this is happening the rich countries should help provide a permanent safety net to be used to assist countries facing food shortages. This can be achieved by the boosting of the International Emergency Food Reserves through constant donations from countries with surplus food. The methods of distributing this emergency relief needs to be improved. Equipment such as aircraft and trucks and resources such as mechanical support, health workers and nutritionists must be available at short notice and be able to be deployed immediately in the event of a crisis.
All this should be accompanied by forcing the rich countries to pay fair prices for commodities that they purchase from poor countries. The profits resulting from this can be reinvested in such a way that it enables development of projects such as irrigation, reforestation and technical advice, etc., that will develop appropriate infrastructure for self-sufficiency.
Land is the second basic need that eludes the poor in most developing nations. Much of the cultivatable land in the world is owned by people with large farms, particularly in the Americas.
For example, in the 1970’s in Central America, the richest 10% of land owners controlled 80% of all farmland. This means that the large farmers are able to dominate the market as it is easier for them to get credits and loans which in turn helps them afford mechanization and fertilizer seeds, etc. This means that the large farms can mass produce. The mass production of crops forces the prices down and small farmers lose out and are forced to sell their land.
The solution lies in land reform. Land reform is necessary not only for justice, but for efficient food production.
Many governments have land reform laws but do not fully implement them. The rich landowners are constantly lobbying the governments to stick to the status quo, but the people who do not own large amounts of land need to pressure the Government into fully implementing the existing laws. In order to succeed in land reform the governments need to further help the poor farmers by offering loans for seed and equipment to get them started.
The third basic need that needs to readily available to the poor is water. Water is essential for the attack on disease, malnutrition and infant mortality. It is also impossible for humans to survive without water. Groups, such as Australia’s Freedom from Hunger Campaign, have researched the problem of lack of water and have come up with three major steps which they believe, if introduced and maintained, can solve this problem.
The first step is to keep the existing water supply free from pollutants which cause diseases, and to make public health education readily available. The second involves the cooperation of development organizations that make sure they concentrate on areas most in need of help. Thirdly, they believe that by helping poor farmers gain control of their land, and thereby their water supply, and helping them become economically independent they can promote community development, which in turn enables communities to solve their own problems.
While food, land and water are not the only needs unavailable to the poor in developing countries, they are the stepping stones to greater equality and the eradication of poverty. Once the population is provided with sufficient food, shelter and clothing, you can begin to target other areas such as social justice, recognizing the role of women, improving education and public health awareness, and birth control or family planning.
If we continue to ignore the problem of poverty and the unequal distribution of wealth, the gap will continue to widen and the solutions will become even harder to obtain. Action must be taken immediately.