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The gap between rich and poor in the world today

In the world of 1995, there are still huge differeces between rich and poor, developed and less developed countries. But why? Who is to blame? What can we do about it? Many things have been tried out to solve these problems, but does it work? It seems bizarre, that we, modern, intelligent people, have not yet succeded to get rid of the differences between DCs (developed countries) and LDCs (less developed countries). We try, don’t we?

Every year, we grant 2% of our Gross National Product, GNP, to foreign aid to help the LDCs to get a better standard of living (better agriculture, more and better schools and hospitals, access to health personell, medicines, etc. ). On the other hand, is our “standard of living” the best for LDCs, and the one we should impose on them? For instance, what is the point of giving complex macinery like tractors and harvesters, which need expensive fuel and maintenance, to people who have harvested their crops by manpower for hundreds of years? We know for a fact that the money we grant is not being used adequately.

A lot of the money is taken by the governments of the less developed countries, and a great amount of the sum are not being used to the purposes they are meant for. Bribery and corruption are huge problems in developing countries. It makes more sense to dig wells for people who walk for miles every day to get their daily water supply, than to support officials with BMWs and grand houses. The World Bank was established, and a large amound of capital was poured in, despite of the fact that the Third World lacked the level of infrastructure, the economic and social background, and the skilled personnel of Europe.

The failure of this model of economic development to produce economic well-being and growth for most Third World countries is due to a number of factors. These factors include the concentration of economic resources in the hands of the rich and of unrepresentative governments, the exclusion of the large majority of affected populations from economic decisionmaking, and the integration of Southern economies in an international market where they cannot compete equitably. The industrialized countries are still holding the less developed countries down.

It’s the DCs who decide coffee-, tea- and sugar-prices, and consequently excercise an indirect control of the countries’ economy. We also protect ourselves with high import-taxes and low import-quotas. Increasing protectionism in Northern markets shut off some Third World exports, while at the same time, the increased export of some natural resources, lumber from forests, for example, created the conditions for rapid environmental destruction. At the same time, a major debt crisis developed, particularly among those countries in the South that were producing primarily for Northern markets.

As the 1990s began, popular movements that included farmers, workers, women, environmentalists and community groups in the South were challenging the adjustment policies and large-scale projects that were ruining the poor and the environment. The goal for these groups is sustainable development: building and protecting a base for long-term development by protecting the natural-resources base, sustaining local culture and traditions, and achieving economic growth by building on the capacities of local populations.

In Africa, there are established, with help from, among other countries, Norway, mobile doctors, who visit villages and remote places on regular basis. There are also built a lot of schools with foreign help, there is no doubt that the educational system in most of the LDCs has been improved a great deal over the past few years. These are examples of “basic human needs” programs which are run with some success because the host-country governments impose their own solutions on local problems.

This way of cooperating with the host-countries has proved to be the best way of “helping” the developing countries to develop in their own pace and their “Third World”-way. I guess this is what have kept the Third World countries undeveloped for such a long time: That we have imposed on them OUR development with its flaws, disrespect for nature and other cultures, and the greediness which threatens to ruin the balance of our enviroment.

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