Thursday, February 2, 2012

Unit 1: A divided world?

In studying history, we come across accounts of nations that arose in various times and places. How societies become established and develop over time is an important area of inquiry.

In the following as well as the posts that would follow this module, we are concerned with the question of development of societies in modern times. We examine the growth of modern civilization, and its impact on communities across the globe. We seek to become aware of the situation of the less fortunate who have not benefited from modern advances. We try to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of progress by approaching this concept from a variety of perspectives. In short we will assess Dunya (the posts so far have dealt with Din as well as intellectual aspects of life) as it confronts human life, to day, i.e. 21st century.
The following is a summary of the units we will cover in the series.

Unit 1 - A divided world: We begin the module by comparing the standards of living in wealthy and poor countries, and the questions raised by this division.

Unit 2 - The roots of poverty: We examine some of the outcomes of modern history that have led to the growing gap in wealth between the rich and poor nations.

Unit 3 - The ethical spirit of Islam: In this unit, we study the ethical responsibilities placed by Islam upon Muslims, and how Muslim communities have sought to meet these responsibilities.

Unit 4- Creating new pathways of care: In the second half of the module, we begin our exploration of the AKDN institutions. We examine the principles and approaches that guide their humanitarian work.

Unit 5 - Lifelines of hope: This unit leads us to examine in greater detail the activities of the AKDN agencies in disaster relief, providing for basic needs in deprived communities, and creating opportunities for the less fortunate to earn their living.

Unit 6 - Spheres of growth: We extend our exploration of the work of AKDN by turning to the issues of health, education and shelter. We study examples of projects undertaken in each of these areas by AKDN agencies.

Unit 7- Choices and possibilities: In this concluding unit, we discuss the dilemmas of development facing humanity in the new century. We end by reflecting on the meaning of progress, and the choices open to human beings in creating their future.
Overview of the unit

1.1     The rich and the poor

Our modern world consists of countries with different levels of wealth. At one extreme are states that are very rich, while at the other end we find nations suffering from acute poverty. The majority of the countries in the world fall somewhere between these two categories. We begin this unit by exploring the qualities of life experienced by people living in rich and poor countries.

1.2     The struggle to survive

For millions of people around the world, life is a daily struggle to survive. Families and communities find themselves without basic necessities, such as water, food and shelter. The lack of education, health care and income makes it difficult for them to escape from the cage of poverty. In this section, we attempt to gain greater insight into the plight of the poor.

1.3     Questions of life and death

In modern times, people across the world have become increasingly aware of the suffering of those living in poor countries. They are asking why vast numbers of human beings have to live in deprived conditions. Important questions are being raised about the causes of poverty, and how the living conditions of the poor can be improved. We end this unit by exploring some of these questions.

  1.1    The rich and the poor


What is the difference in the standard of living between rich and poor countries of the world?


  • developed countries
  • the North
  • developing countries
  • the South
  • quality of life
  • Third World
  • standard of living


Using a map of the world identify ten countries that fall into the category of developed nations. List ten countries that are considered to be 'developing nations'. What do you notice about the geographical locations of these countries?

Differences in qualities of life

When we study the societies in which we live, we find people with different levels of power, wealth, knowledge and status. Some groups of people are better positioned than others in terms of the quality of life they experience.
In some countries, the majority of the population has more or less the same standard of living. In other countries, the differences in wealth between groups of people are very large. Those at the top of their society have vast amounts of wealth compared to those at the very bottom.
The differences in qualities of life between groups are also linked to whether a person lives in the rural or urban areas. People in the rural areas generally experience a lower standard of living than those in urban areas.
In many countries, factors such as a person's race, religion, gender or age also determine whether they belong to advantaged or disadvantaged groups.
Developed and developing countries

We find differences of wealth between social groups within each country. We also discover these differences of wealth between countries. Some of the countries possess greaser material wealth than others. The majority at people in a 'rich' country have far greater material wealth than the majority of people in a 'poor' country.

The rich nations of the world are commonly known as 'developed' or industrialised countries. Later in the module, we will be discussing what 'development' means. These countries are also known as 'the North', because most of them are located in the northern hemisphere.

The majority of the poor people of the world are to be found in 'developing' countries. These countries are also known as 'the South' because they are located in the southern hemisphere. Another term that is used to describe them is the 'Third World', in contrast to the First and Second World countries that make up the developed nations, the poorest nations are known as the 'Least Developed Countries' (LDCs).

Resources and wealth

Many of the developing countries are rich in natural resources. They have land, rivers, forests, minerals, and other raw materials. They also have a large pool of human resources, the majority of whom belong to young age-groups. However developing countries lack good schools, hospitals, housing, and other necessary facilities and services.
In developed countries, the other hand, there is scarcity of natural resources. Land, oil, minerals, wood and other commodities are high demand. Much of the raw materials required by developed countries is imported from developing countries at a cheap price. Developed nations generate part of their wealth by converting cheap raw materials into commodities which are sold at a profit. Some of this wealth is used to build better schools, hospitals, houses and roads, and to provide vital public services.

Comparing the North and the South
The North
• It has a quarter of the world's population.
• It earns 80 percent of the world's income.
• A person can hope to live on average more than 70 years.
• Most people have enough to eat.
• Most people receive secondary level education.
• The rich countries control most of international manufacturing, trade and finance.

The South
• It is home to three-quarters of the world's people.
• It earns 20 per cent of the world's income.
• A person can expect to live on average about 50 years.
• 20 per cent or more of the people suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
• 50 per cent of the people do not receive secondary level education.
• Over 500 million people do not have access to vital services such as drinking water and electricity.

Two countries — two kinds of worlds
To give us a greater understanding of the difference between the life of people in rich and poor countries, we examine two case studies here. The first one is based on the standard of living to be found in Norway, one of the developed countries of the world. The second case study focuses on the standard of life experienced by people in Mali, which belongs to the category of Least Developed Countries. We compare the lives of youths in these two countries to gain a sense of the life led by people in the North and the South.
Kari and Øyvind of Norway

Adopted from The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, 2003. (( 
Hello, our names are Kari and Øyvind. Kari comes from Oslo, the capital of Norway, while Øyvind is from Tromsa, a town above the Arctic Circle.
Norwegians call their country NORGE, which means 'the way to the North'. We think Norway is a good place to live. The climate varies from region to region and the natural scenery is very beautiful....'
Kari introduces herself

My name is Kari. I am 13 years old, go to school in Oslo, and live in the north east part of the city. It only takes about only 20 minutes by Underground to reach the centre of Oslo, and yet we have miles of forest and open country right outside our front door. I have a brother, Lars, who is 9 years old and we live in three bedrooms flat with our parents.
'My father's parents are pensioners and have a flat in the centre of the town, although they spent a lot of time in our cabin in the south of Norway, particularly in the summer when the weather is fine. Many Norwegians have cabin or small summer home by sea or in the mountains. I like playing football and am interested in protecting nature and the environment. It seems strange to me that people are not more concerned about taking care of the world we live in.
Øyvind introduces himself

'My name is Øyvind and I live in Tromsa. I soon be 12 years old and will start at secondary school next year. I play handball, go swimming and like skiing and skating. I live in a house with my mother, father and grandmother.
'Our family has a cabin in the mountains where we spend most of our weekends and all our holidays. In the winter, we go for long skiing trips, both cross- country and downhill. In the summer, I like to go bathing and fishing in the lakes near our cabin. I am interested in working for peace and in helping the developing countries. All human beings have a right to food and education. My greatest hope is that someday there may be real peace in the world.
'On the map of the world you will see that Norway is situated far to the north in the western corner of Europe. Norway shares borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia, but our largest neighbour is the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Our country's official name is the Kingdom of Norway.....
'As you can see Norway is a long, narrow country, almost 1,750 km from north to south. We like to say that if it were possible to swing Norway down by its most southerly point, it would reach all the way to the Mediterranean. The area covered by Norway is roughly same as that of Great Britain, Italy, or Japan. You will appreciate that with a population of only 4.3 million, we have plenty of space compared with many countries.....
'Tromsa, Øyvind's home town is situated above the Arctic Circle. In the summer, the Midnight Sun gives long, light nights, but winter brings a period of darkness when the sun never appears above the horizon. Fortunately it is not completely dark as the moon lights up the snow covered landscape and heavens are often illuminated by the Northern Lights.
'Children in Norway start school in the year they reach, the age of 6 ... For the first few years, the school day lasts about 4 hours, but increases gradually to 6 or 7 hours as the children advance in the school system. For younger children whose parents are both out working, - there are after-school arrangements to keep the children safely occupied until their parents have finished work.
'English is taught from as early as the second class in the primary school. French or German being added later in the secondary school. Most children walk or cycle to school, but special transport arrangements are made for those who live a long way from the nearest school.
'Most Norwegians live in close contact with nature. This explains why many of us, particularly children, are concerned about the environment and the protection of natural resources. Industrial and commercial activities do not always put nature first. Therefore, we have many laws and regulations to protect nature and animal life and to ensure that the environment is safeguarded and natural resources exploited in a sensible way'.
'The pupils at Fan's school have carried out several environmental projects, including one where they tested the quality of rainwater and found out that it was often very acid. This can damage forests and kill fish in lakes and rivers. Acid rain in Norway is due as much to air pollution by industries in other countries as in Norway itself. Air pollution across national borders is a problem. Kari and her classmates are aware of and which they realise can only be solved by international co-operation. Like many other young people all over Norway, both Kari and Øyvind are members of environmental organisations.
'The great majority of Norwegians engage in some kind bf athletic activity and many are members of sports clubs or associations connected with outdoor activities. Norwegians are an outdoor people and walking in the forests and the mountains is very popular. In the summer, the waters around the coast are full of boats and people bathing, while in the winter almost everybody goes skiing.
'Øyvind and Kari are both keen skiers and they and their families often go for long trips on the weekends. All over Norway, there are thousands of forest paths and marked ski-tracks. Everybody is free to walk or ski where they please and to pick berries and mushrooms without asking permission of any landowner.
'Apart from skiing, the most popular sports in Norway are football, handball and athletics. The world's largest football tournament, Norway Cup, is held in Oslo every summer and attracts more than 22,000 young players, both boys and girls. Teams from over 30 countries participate, graded in different age groups from 10 to 16. Last year, Kari's team took part and is already looking forward to the next tournament.
'Twice in its history, Norway has staged the Olympic Winter Games, the first time in Oslo in 1952 and recently in Lillehammer in 1994. Øyvind and Kari both lucky enough to experience the sporting events and the very special atmosphere in Lillehammer.
'In addition to sports clubs, many Norwegian children are also members of various types of associations. Such as the Scouts and Guides, folk dance groups, environmental organisations, musical groups, school bands and choirs.'


  • acid rain – rain that contains acid as a result of mixing with industrial waste gases in the atmosphere
  • Midnight Sun – a natural event in lands near the North Pole when the sun does not set in the summer
  • Northern Lights- patterns of light formed in the sky by electric particles, near the north and south pole
  • Pensioners – retired, elderly people
A profile of Norway

Introduction Norway is located in northern Europe, occupying the western and northern portions of Scandinavian Peninsula. Norway is a democratic country, which means that the government is elected by popular vote. The inhabitants have a say in the way their country is governed.
Land and resources
Norway is a high mountainous land, nearly one third of which lies north of the Arctic Circle. It has a long coast line, longer than that of many other countries in the world. Norway's closeness to the sea has been an important factor in history and in its economic development.

Norway is close to North Pole, but has a mild climate thanks to the warm waters and cool summers, while inland winters are cold and summers are hot.
Natural resources

The main mineral resources are petroleum and natural gas, which are extracted from the North Sea. Other mineral resources include iron ore, copper, zinc and coal. Forests cover slightly more than one quarter of Norway's land area. In the streams, lakes and coastal waters, a wide variety of fish to be found.
Population characteristics

Norway has a population of 4,503,440, giving a population density of about 12 people per sq km, the lowest in Europe. The population is growing very slowly with an annual rate of increase of only 0.49 percent in 2001. Women can expect to live an average about 82 years and men for 76 years.
More than three quarters of Norwegians live within 16km of the sea. Some 74% population of Norway is urban. Compared to most other countries, there are no really big cities in Norway. Even the capital, Oslo, has less than half a million inhabitants.

Since Norway has a rugged terrain, it is difficult and expensive to construct roads and railways. Water transport plays an important role in much of the country. Norway has a road network of 90,880 km, 76% of which is paved. Railways are state operated, more than half of which are electrified.
Oslo is the country's main port. The Norwegian merchant fleet, with 2,349 vessels in 2000, is one of the largest in the world and an important source of earnings. The country has 53 airports, with the main international airport at Oslo.

Norway is one of the world's leading hydroelectricity producers, generating more than 121 billion kWh annually.
In 1909, large reserves of oil and gas were discovered under the ocean bed off the Norwegian coast, Norway has now become one of the largest oil-exporting nations in the world. Oil and gas, together with other natural resources, have turned it into a wealthy nation, Norway has one of the highest standards of living in the world.
Agriculture and fishing

Because of the mountainous terrain and poor soil, less than 3 percent of the total land area is cultivated. However the country is self-sufficient in many agricultural products, but some grains, fruits and vegetables are imported.
Norway is one of the world's leading fishing nations. In addition to the traditional fishing at sea, it has also developed fish-farming in recent years.

Norway was a trainer shipbuilding nation in the past, but shipbuilding declined sharply after the late I970s because of financial problems.
Norway is also a large producer and exporter of timber, paper, building materials, furniture and other products based on timber. Other major items include machinery, textiles, confectionery and other food products.
The country has several petroleum refineries and a major iron and steel plant. Norway is Europe s largest exporter of oil and gas from the North Sea.

Education is free and compulsory for all children between the ages of 7 and 16. For their primary education, children attend a six year lower school and three-year upper school. Students can study for three more years at the secondary level. For their higher education, students enroll in one of the four universities or ten colleges.
Health and welfare

About 35 per cent of the state budget is spent on the Norwegian health and social welfare system. All those who are residents in Norway have a right to
help and other forms of support during illness, old age or unemployment.
The state provides benefits linked to old-age, child support and maternity leave. Disabled persons also receive help with medicinal expenses and for care at home.
Norway has a well-developed health service. In 1997 it had one doctor for every 400 inhabitants. Heart diseases are on the decline, but cancer, allergies and lung diseases are still increasing.
In terms of its population, Norway is growing older. The population of the elderly is expanding, and this represents an extra burden for the health care system. Nursing and care for the aged will increasing funds in the next two decades.
Norway—facts and figures

• Population: 4.5 million (2001) - Annual population growth rate: 0.4% (2000-2015)

• Size: 385,958 square km
• GDP per capita: US$ 29,620 (2001)

• Life expectancy: 73 years - Infant deaths per 1000 births: 4 (2001)
• Population without access to safe water source: 0% (2000)

• Adult literacy rate: 99% (2001)

(Source: UNDP Human Development Report, Norway, 2003)

Dramane of Mali

In our second case study, we visit Mali where we meet a 12 year old boy by the name of Dramane Oumar Samake. He lives in Sogoniko which means, 'the brook where the antelope comes to drink', in the south eastern part of Mali's capital Bamako. His father teaches English in the high School, and his mother has just trained as a teacher too. Dramane has a sister, Amadou, who is 11, and a three year old brother, Fatoumata. Dramane is doing well at school. He is also learning carpentry so that he has a trade when he leaves.
My nickname is Joe D' Anton. Joe is a cartoon character, the shortest and cleverest in the group of prisoners and seems to be their leader, so I am quiet proud of the nickname my friends have given me.
There are two rooms in my home. My mum, dad and little sister sleep in one and I sleep in another with my younger brother and another boy who sometimes stays. Eight households share our compound: Five families and three single men.
I sleep on a mattress on the floor. Usually I have my mattress, but at the moment I'm sharing with my brother because we have a visitor staying. On schooldays, I get up at around seven o'clock, but at weekends at around eight. I don't like wasting time in bed: if you spend all your time in bed, how are you going to make any money?
'I wake up when I hear my mum preparing breakfast. On weekdays, it's usually still dark. We do have an electric light in our room, but we often have power cuts. When I get up, I wash my face and then feed my pigeons — they're my own pet birds.
'The pullover have on today is really for weekdays, but this is the cold time of year, so as it's the only one I've got, I am wearing it on a Sunday. My favourite clothes are jeans, but unfortunately I don't have any. I don't know how much they cost, but know that they are very expensive. To sleep in, I have an old shirt and some tracksuit bottoms, I don't have to wear school uniform.
'I eat various things for breakfast, it depends on the day - manly porridge, sometimes with beans and coffee, or milk and bread at weekends. My mum usually makes it. She buys millet and sugar for the for the sugar once a month, My dad buys powdered milk: we don't use fresh milk. My favourite food is beans...
We all eat breakfast together, in the passage outside our rooms. We eat in silence. There is a saying: 'The eating mouth does not speak.'
I leave the house at 7.30 am, and it takes about ten minutes to walk to school. It's called the Ecole Fundamentale Fasso-Kanu.
I often walk to school alone, but sometimes meet up with friends on the way. The first thing we do is clean the classroom: dust always settles on the desks and chairs overnight. Then we go into the playground until the whole school gathers to raise the national flag and and sing the national anthem. Each class takes it in turn to raise the flag.
I started school when I was five. That's younger than most children in Mali; the normal age is about seven. Currently I am in eighth grade. I had to repeat sixth grade, but apart from that I've moved up each year. School starts at eight and finishes at 12,00 every day, except Tuesdays when we go for drawing classes in the afternoon.
'I like physics and chemistry, but my favourite subject is maths, because if you're good at maths, you're more likely to get a good job, but also because it is so accurate. Some other subjects are not really objective, but you know where you are with maths.

'There are 89 pupils in my class, many more boys than girls. All the classes are over-crowded. My classroom is quite big, but it isn't very well equipped. We have to keep the shutters closed on one side in order to keep the sun out, so it's quite dark inside, barely light enough to see the blackboard and read our books. We share three pupils to one desk. Everything is scarce, especially textbooks. During reading lessons we have to share one book between three. We have to buy our own pens, pencils and notebooks.

'I come home for lunch at about 12.15, and eat right away: usually rice, with watermelons if they are in season. Then in the afternoon, I go to a friend's house to do my homework. We spend about an hour studying each afternoon.
'Then I go to my boss's workshop. I'm an apprentice carpenter. As a carpenter, you can make money quite easily and quickly. I've been going to the workshop for four years. I do whatever my boss asks me to — mainly cutting wood to the right size and sanding it. My boss makes all sorts of things: beds, cupboards, shelves — anything you might want. I usually spend about four hours there, and sometimes make some small tools to sell. From time to time, my boss gives me a little pocket money, but not enough! My mum and dad also give me pocket money which I save. I only buy tea and sometimes peanuts and bananas.

'When I'm not doing homework or carpentry, I'm out playing with my friends. I like playing football, riding my bike, and making tea best. We don't usually go very far on our bikes, just around the district. I usually come home at about 6.00 to watch cartoons on the TV outside the compound gate, under the tree. Then I go and wash before our evening meal.
'We all eat together at about eight o'clock. My favorite sweet is chocolate Most of the chocolate you can buy here is European. I go to bed at about nine' O'clock on weekdays, and ten o'clock' at weekends. Sometimes my mum gives me a special treat just before I go to bed: it's a kind of sweet flavoured pea which she buys in the market. Some nights we are troubled by mosquitoes, but we don't sleep under nets, we just burn mosquito coils to stop them biting us.

'I really want to breed animals because I love all sorts: sheep, goats, big dogs ... and my pigeons. I was given the first pigeons by a cousin. I love them because they never go far away.

'This is quite a new area of Bamako. People are building a lot, and a lot of people are moving into the area, which is a good thing because it means I will have a lot of new friends. There's no serious crime, no murder or anything like that. The only real problem is that the place is very dirty. There is so much rubbish around, and there is no proper drainage for the sewage, which encourages mosquitoes...


  • apprentice - a person learning a trade, beginner
  • brook - a small stream
  • compound - enclosed area around one or more buildings
  • millet - a type of cereal grain
  • objective - not imaginary, real
  • power cuts - failure in electricity supply
  • sewage - waste matter
  • shutters - panels attached to windows to keep the light out
  • trade - a skilled job or occupation

A Profile of Mali

Mali is the largest country in West Africa, whose total land is greater than that of France, Spain, Portugal and Austria combined. It is a landlocked republic bordered by seven other countries. It is a former French colony that gained its independence in 1960. The capital of Mali is Bamako.

Land and resources

The northern part of the country lies in the Sahara desert. This area makes up almost two thirds of Mali. The central region, known as the Sahel, consists of dry scrubland with few or no trees, Further south, where rainfall and rivers are more plentiful, the land is slightly fertile. The Niger River is the lifeline of Mali, flowing through the southern part of the country in a wide sweeping arc.


The temperature in the southern part varies between 24C to 32°C. The humid rainy season is June to September, but it only occurs in the South. In the North, the temperature rises to above 40°C and there is very little rainfall. Winds blowing off the desert between December and February cover the towns and villages with a fine layer of dust.

Natural resources

It is mainly an agricultural country. Its most valuable resource is the River Niger, which abounds in fish. The river is also used for irrigation. Mineral resources include phosphates, salt, gold and uranium.

Population characteristics

Mali has a population of 11,340.480, giving an average population density of about 9 people per sq km. Around 30 per cent of the population live in the urban areas. The average life span is 46 years for men and 49 years for women.
Almost all the population of Mali is African. Tuaregs and other nomadic tribes roam the Sahel and parts of the Sahara. The limited economic opportunities in Mali force its people to look for work in neighboring states, or to emigrate permanently.


The Niger acts as an important means of transport in Mali, being used by small steamboats from July to January. A railway links Koulikoro, Bamako and Kayes with the port of Dakar, in Senegal. Mali has about 15,100 km of roads, of which about 12 per cent are paved. In 1997, there were around 3 passenger cars per 1,000 people. International airports are located near Bamako and Mopti.


In 1999, Mali produced some 145 million kWh of electricity. Around 55 per cent of it was generated through hydroelectric stations.


Economically, Mali is considered to he one of the poorest countries in the world. Its economy is mainly agricultural. Since 55 per cent of' its land area is desert or semi-desert, farmers depend heavily on irrigation or seasonal flooding from the Niger and its tributaries.
Small industries consist of cotton-ginning, food processing, cement production and bicycle assembly.

Agriculture and fishing

Around 86 per cent of the working populations of Mali are involved in the cultivation of crops. The main crops are millet, rice, sorghum, maize, peanuts, cotton and sugar cane. The raising of livestock is an important activity. Fish from the Niger provide much of the diets of the people living along the river Surplus fish are dried and smoked before being exported.

Environmental concerns

Mali suffers from an ongoing drought that has lasted for decades. In the recent past, there has been terrible drought and famine that has badly affected livestock herds and food production. Two thirds of the country is now desert or semi-desert.
The growing desert is a great worry to people in Mali as fertile land disappears. The spread of the desert happens because of lack of rain, over-grazing by cattle, and harsh desert winds which blow away damaged soil. It is also caused by the loss of litany trees, as people hunt for fire wood. Without trees- particularly their roots — Soil easily turns to dust.
The drought has also lowered level of rivers. At the same time pollution has started to poison the water and the construction of dams has changed the flow of rivers. These changes have led fishermen to use nets with small holes in order to increase their chances of catching fish causing the fishing stock to decline.


Education is supposed to be free and compulsory for children between 7 and 16 years of age, but less than 25 percent of children attend school. Governemt spending on education is low, forcing parents to pay for their children's education. Most Malians are very poor and cannot afford to send their children to school. As a result, only about 30 per cent of people can read and write.
The average child in Mali is at school for only 3 years compared to 11 years in developed countries. Since parents think that it is more important for boys to get an education than girls, more men than women are literate in Mali today. Only 23 per cent of women can read and write, compared to 39 per cent of men.

Health and welfare

In 1995, only 30% of population in Mali had access to health care, Out of every 1000 children, 120 die before they reach the age of one. In 1996 there were 15,993 people per doctor in Mali. Malaria, hepatitis, tuberculosis, meningitis and now HIV/AIDS are common diseases.
A large part of Mali's health problem is due to its poor a water and sanitation systems. Only 6 per cent (lEE 1998) of all Malians have adequate sanitation, and only 66 per cent (1990-1998) of the population have safe
drinking water. As a result, water from rivers and wells is often contaminated with bacteria. The absence of clean drinking water and hygienic sanitation serve to spread diseases and contributes to a lower life span and higher number of infant deaths.
Mali facts and figures
• Population: 12.3 million (2001)

  • Annual population growth rate: 3.15 (2000-2015)
  • Size : 1,240,192 square km
  • GDP per capita : US$ 810 (2001)
  • Population living below $1 a day: 72.85 (1990-2001)
  • Life expectancy: 48 years (2001)
  • Infants deaths per 1,000 births: 134
  • Population without access to safe drinking water source: 35% (2000)
  • Adult literacy rate: 26.4%
(Source: UNDP Human Development Report, Mali, 2003)

Review Questions and activities

Reflecting on the text

How do you describe the way of life in Norway?
What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of living in Norway?
In what sense is, Norway a 'rich' country? In what areas is it deprived?
What quality of life do people in Mali experience?
What are major resources of Mali? To what extent are they useful to the Malians?
What are major problems does it faces? What are the underlying causes of these problems?
Why Mali is labeled a 'poor' country? In which aspects can it be said to be wealthy?
Compare the life led by people in Mali and Norway? What are some major similarities and differences between the two countries?


The text provides facts and statistics for both Norway and Mali in areas such as economy, education and health. Make a table of these statistics to compare the data. What conclusions can you draw from the statistics about the quality of life in the two countries?
Examine in great detail the stories of youths who live in Norway and Mali. Imagine they switch places for a year. Write an account based on how they would they describe their new environments.
Select two countries one located in the North and other in the South. Do a comparative study of these countries, similar to the one on Norway and Mali. What are some similarities and difference you find between your study and that described in this section?
Prepare a general profile of quality of life in your country. Include key data on aspects such as economy, trade, transport, education, health and social welfare. Does your country belong to the 'developed' or 'developing' categories?
Identify a country that is difficult to categorise as either 'rich' or 'poor'. What aspects of this country make it difficult to identify its level of development?


Review the countries and regions you have covered in your geography classes at school. What kinds of issues related to development have you studied?


To what extent it is valid to use the terms 'rich' and 'poor' to describe different countries? How appropriate are the terms 'developed' and 'developing' countries?

Differences in wealth and poverty exist in all countries. Discuss whether the poverty experienced by people in developed countries is of a similar or different type from that faced by people in developing countries.

The nations of the world are classified as developed, developing and least developing countries. These divisions reflect differences in their economy, social welfare systems, and the quality of life experienced by their people.

1.2     The struggle to survive

Problems faced by the poor People in the developing nations experience a range of problems that have a major impact on the quality of their life:
Lack of basic health care

Millions of people in the developing countries do not access to safe drinking water or a balanced food diet. They suffer from malnutrition and disease such as diarrhea, cholera and malaria. The lack of health care facilities means that they cannot receive medical treatment when they fall ill.
Lack of proper shelter

Large people live in crowded conditions, especially in urban areas. Many find themselves living in slums of large cities. Their homes are makeshift constructions and lack water, electricity and proper sanitation.
Lack of schools

A large percentage of children in poor countries grow up without proper education. Many are not able to go to secondary schools, being forced to end their education after a few years at the primary level. They grow up illiterate without basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. Girls often receive fewer years of schooling than boys.
Lack of income

Poor farmers in rural areas of developing countries have to labour hard to make their ends meet. Many are forced to sell their land and move to urban areas. In the cities, they may find it difficult to get a good job. They may end up doing menial or hard work under poor conditions with very low pay.
Impact on people's lives

These problems affect families and communities in serious ways, and often have long lasting effects on their lives.
The impact of illness

Unclean water, poor diet and illness lead to high rate of death among newly born children and the aged. People in poor countries have shorter life spans and may end up becoming disabled through serious illness. As a result they are not able to contribute fully to the development of their families and communities.
The impact of poor homes

Poor living conditions prevent people from leading full and safe lives. They become exposed to the forces of nature, such as storm and extreme heat or cold. Poor conditions increase the risks of ill health. Such places are not safe and healthy environments in which to bring up children.
The impact of illiteracy

People unable to read, write or count are left at a severe disadvantage. They cannot access useful knowledge, skills or information that is vital for their survival. They become dependent on others for basic knowledge. They cannot make use of valuable opportunities for bettering their lives and those of their children.
The impact of unemployment

Those who do not have steady or adequate income find it difficult to maintain their families. They are unable to pay for food, clothes, rent, school fees and other basic amenities. They may find themselves slipping further down the ladder into extreme poverty.
Voices of the helpless
The experience of absolute poverty

Absolute poverty is defined as a condition where people do not have access to the basic necessities of life such as food, water and shelter They find it extremely difficult to meet these basic needs that are vital to their survival. Millions of people around the world suffer from absolute poverty.
The poorest people in the world find themselves deprived of all means to escape from their poverty. They feel helpless to bring about any changes in their lives, and become resign to leading a life without hope.
Unable to help their children, the poverty and suffering of the poorest gets extended from one generation to the next. Poverty becomes a narrow cage for entire communities, cut off from the opportunities of the wider world.
Poverty breeds many ills. Women suffer from domestic abuse, children become victim of child labour, men migrate to cities to look for work and families are forced to adopt desperate measures to survive from one day to the next.
In the following accounts, refugees in poor regions of the world describe their struggle to escape poverty.


Adapted from the United Nations' IRIN website 2003.

Alex's story Angola

Alex, aged 20, has polio and cannot walk. He spends his days begging at the traffic lights at Kinaxixi square in Angola's capital, Luanda. –
'I come from Huambo province, was born well, but when I was two years old, I got polio and now my legs are useless. I had to leave Huambo [in the central highlands] because of the war. I went to Bie because I wanted a better life, but in Bie it was even worse. There was so much suffering, so much. I could not stay, could not bear it, I wanted to get a wheelchair because of my polio, but there was no chance in Bie. So I came to Luanda. Still haven't got enough money for a wheelchair, so I move around using my hands. It's okay because I can move quickly.
'I spend my days waiting and hoping. I wait because some day someone will help me. Sometimes someone will pass and if he has some money or some food, he might give me some, Businessmen in big cars sometimes give me 50 kwanza (US $1) or maybe 100 kwanza. People give me used clothes, or the ladies give me some bread
or a banana. If they don't give to me, I have nothing; it is very, very difficult.
I want to begin studying next year. I have some education up to 6th year (secondary level) and I want
to learn more so that maybe one day I can get a job.
'I keep hoping and praying that my life will change now that there is peace [after three decades of civil war), but it hasn't changed yet. Nothing is different. It's still hard; we still have no food and no possibilities. I'm happy because I have my own family here, a new family. I have my own friends and we help each other and we make each other laugh. God knows we are here, if it is bad, or if it is getting better, it doesn't matter. We are living at least.'
Kimmie Sirleaf's story – Liberia
'My name is Kimmie Sirleaf. I'm 50 now. I'm hungry. Food is my only problem. I sleep on an empty stomach most of the time, but thank God we are not hearing guns like before, when the rebels and government soldiers were fighting.
'I left Suehan- Mecca two years ago. The war brought me to this displaced camp (in Zwannah). I do not know where my two grand children are right now. We all ran away from Suehn at midnight when we heard heavy shooting near us.......
'Life in this camp is too hard. I was here until the war reached us. One government soldier boy helped me and took me in his car and we entered Monrovia.
'As soon as we came back, I found that my house where I used to sleep in this camp has been damaged. I called some children to come and help repair it. There were also too many ants inside. That is why I am sitting outside in the sun. I do not have family here in Zwannah town to help me. If I say I get money, then I am lying.
'I got food only once since I came back to Zwannah more than one month ago- beans and corn meal. You know, I am too old now to look for money or do hard work like the way the other people are doing in the camp or to get food to eat. Sometime when I sit outside, people pity me and give me money. I use this to buy food to eat.
Mayfasse Timane's story- Mozambique
'My name is Mayfasse Timane. I used to live in the lowlands, but they moved us here to higher grounds in 2000 after the floods. My main problem now is hunger. I receive free maize, oil and beans only when it is my community's turn to take part in the food or work programme (supported by the World Food Programme).
'I don't take part in the work because I am too old. When it is not our month. I don't receive anything. I rely on handouts and I scout around for what I can get.
'I didn't eat yesterday because I only had maize meal left and no salt or greens to eat it. I will eat today because I have collected some cassava leaves to eat the maize with, but I still have no salt. I rely on my grandson who lives in the lowlands, to give me food but he has not visiting for a long time.....
'When I lived in the lowlands, there was more food to eat. My plot has dried up here. It hasn't rained. Nothing has grown. If I were stronger, I would farm in the lowlands like the others and sleep here, but I am too old to walk back and forth. It is far. I can't settle because of the floods.
'The floods were bad. I remember during the floods, I was frightened. I couldn't escape with my neighbours. They left their homes before the water rose too high. But I couldn't make it, so they helped me on to the roof of my house. I felt alone when they left. I stayed on the roof all night. I was able to drink the rainwater, but I had nothing to eat. A helicopter came the next day to rescue me. They put down a rope. I was very sacred. They told me not to look down at the water but to look up.
'What about the future? My worry is food. My health is good, only my body is tired as I am old. I can't expect to be as healthy as I was.


  • Cassava – a plant with starchy roots from which floor is made
  • Civil war- a war within a country
Laidana's story — Afghanistan

'My name is Laidana. I am a widow and have seven children. My husband went missing in Kabul during the civil war in 1992. We lived in [Northwestern Pakistan city of] Peshawar as refugees, where I worked in a factory and supported my children for the last 10 years. We came to Kabul in December, thinking the situation was better as we were hearing on the on the radio about how the world had pledged money for Afghanistan.

'The very first challenge when we arrived in Kabul was lack of shelter and the very high house rents. The only option was to seek vacant places in the damaged buildings to the west of Kabul, which were destroyed during the civil war. Even during the harsh Afghan winter, already hundreds of homeless families like us who could not afford to pay over US $100 a month for a simple apartment were living there.

'Now I am doing laundry for nearby areas and also cleaning in a house. I earn between $70 to $80 a month. We have been in three different places in the months as the owners of those ruined buildings are rebuilding their houses. Two of my elder children who studied upto grade three in refugee camp schools in Peshawar could not continue to go to school here, because like nomads, we have been moving to different parts of the city. Also, they have to help me with the heavy work. All the children work here. They usually go out and collect wood or other means of heating.

'I have knocked on many doors, including UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), but they said all they could do was to help returnees get back here and for the rest, we have to struggle ourselves. Still, I am luckier than hundreds of families around us where the men are jobless and are begging for a piece of bread.

'Our urgent need is a home, at least with widows, a door, a gate and a proper ceiling. The children are scared, as this building [we are occupying] has no gate. Winter is coming and unfortunately we will have to pass another winter in the rubbles. There are many holes in the walls, which we cannot close and prevent the cold weather from entering. The only thing which helps me not to be disappointed is that we are not the only family to have such problems.

'But what is disappointing is the increasing number of families coming to live in these ruins, which alarms [and indicates to] me that the situation is getting worse. You will not find a vacant ruin in these surroundings. The shortage of housing in Kabul is becoming a major problem, not only for returnees, but also for others in our neighbourhood who has jobs such as civil servants or teachers but cannot afford to pay rent. I hope the government and the international community pay attention to the problem of housing in general and to the situation of widows in particular.'

Chicago's story Angola

Chicago is a 16-year-old shoe-shine boy who makes his living polishing the shoes of passers-by.

'I can earn 400 or 500 kwanza (US $10) a day. I work from six o'clock in the morning until six o'clock at night — 12 hours every day. I don't think anything about the future. I'm not very happy but I have to work. My life is bad just [shoe] shine. I want a proper job.

'When I came to Luanda three years ago, I tried to study but it was expensive and I couldn't go to school and earn money at the same time. So I got a job shining shoes, but now I can't study. I'm not happy, no, because I can't earn enough to get food. I'm short of food and I can't see the opportunity to change anything. I have only 10 kwanza and I'm hungry. I have nothing, nothing left except painful memories. We saw so much war. My mother and I left Bie province the scene of much of the fighting] and came here, but my father stayed. I don't know what happened to him. My mother is sick; she's in the hospital so I stay with my uncle. I try to give my mother some money sometimes. My uncle helps and he feeds me when I go home to his house, but it's very, very difficult.

'I want to leave shoe-shining and find another job. If I could make enough money I would leave here and go back to Bie province because there has to be more opportunities there. This is no life, I feel it in my head and my heart. This is not living.'


  • apathy - lack of interest or feeling
  • bondage— slavery. Imprisonment
  • degradation - lowering of statue
  • depression - feeling or mood of deep sadness or hopelessness
  • returnees - refugees returning to home country
  • rubble - broken fragments of stone or bricks
The poorest of the poor

The Least Developed Countries

The poor are to be found in all parts of the world, including in the richest nations. The majority of the world's poor are located in developing countries. The lowest quality of life is to be found in least developed countries (LCDs).

In the year 2000, there were 49 countries identified by the United Nations as being least developed. Those countries were chosen on the basis of following criteria.
They have very low income (less than $900 GDP). They face severe difficulties with nutrition, health and education of their populations.
They have a very week economy in terms of agriculture, manufacturing services and export.
The least Developed Countries rely mostly on agricultural products and import most manufactured goods. Since they produce very little, it is difficult for them to invest in their economies so that they grow. Geographical, historical and political factors also contribute to the low development of the poor nations. We examine these factors in the following sections.

Geographical factors

The geographical location of the least developed countries is an important factor that affects their rate of development. Most of LCDs are situated in the tropical areas of the world. Countries in tropical regions suffer from floods, hurricanes, drought, crop- destroying pests such locusts, and diseases such as malaria.

Most of these countries lie, in a 'poverty belt' that 'stretches across the middle of Africa. Countries to the north of this belt are affected by drought, erosion, and an expanding desert. Those near the Equator have dense tropical forests, leading to problems of settlement and transport.

Another group of countries to be found in the mountainous region, such as Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhuttan, or in low-lying flood prone areas, such as Bangladesh. The geographical conditions in these countries are among the most severe in the world.

A third group of countries consists of small, scattered islands. Some of them are situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from the main lands of Asia, Australia and America. The people who live on these islands have few natural resources, They are also cut off from the global profit-making trade from which many countries benefit.

Quite a few of Least Developed Countries are land locked. They do not have a border that leads to an ocean, but are surrounded by land on all sides. Since they lack ports, they are forced to make use of neighbouring countries' ports. As a result, it becomes expensive for them to export and import goods, since the transport costs are much higher for them.

The Least Developed Countries

(Source: United Nations, 2000)
  • Afghanistan
  • Angola
  • Bangladesh
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cape Verde
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Comoros
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Djibouti
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Guinea
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Haiti
  • Kiribati
  • Laos
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia    
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Maldives
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal
  • Niger
  • Rwanda
  • Samoa
  • São Tome and Principe
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Solomon Islands
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • Vanuatu
  • Yemen
  • Zambia


The heavy cost of conflict

Quite a few of the Least Developed Countries have experienced violent conflicts in their recent history. These conflicts have arisen for a variety of reasons. Some have been due to invasions by external powers. Afghanistan, for example, was invaded by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, leading to a long period of war and instability in the country.

In other countries, the conflict has been due to internal divisions. In Rawanda and Burundi, for example, tribal clashes between the Hutu and the Tutsis led to the massacre of thousands of innocent people. In other cases, brutal regimes suppressed the rights of people in their countries.

One of the results of these conflicts is the displacement of a significant number of people who are forced to become refugees. Fleeing from danger and violence, the refugees abandon their homes and seek safety in neighbouring countries and other parts of the world.

The conflicts also result in the large-scale destruction of agriculture, businesses and industries. Vital services provided by the government become disrupted, and whatever progress has been made by the people is replaced by instability and crises, under these conditions, it may take a long time for a country to recover, once peace returns to its people.

Breaking free from poverty

Acute poverty in the Least Developed countries is not entirely clue to their geographical location or being exposed to warfare and conflict. An important factor that causes and prolongs poverty Is the relation of these poor countries to the rich ones, Many LDCs have to pay interest on debts owed to developed nations from whom they borrowed large loans. The interest charged on the loans ha hindered the poor countries from investing in education, health care and, other social welfare services for their people.

Over the past few decades, there has been a growing recognition that the LDCs require special help from the developed nations if they are to escape from their extreme poverty. Some of the rich nations have agreed to reduce the loans that need to be repaid, or to cancel them altogether. Others have been reluctant or slow to help the LDCs,

Much more aid needs to be given to the LDCs if they are to improve the quality of' life of their people. A greater investment needs to be made in their economy, through bringing about fairer trade between countries. More needs to be done to help the LDCs improve their agriculture and to make use of their natural resources. The people of these countries also need assistance to build schools, hospitals, roads and railways, hydroelectric stations, and other essential facilities. Only then will they be able to overcome the difficult conditions they face and become self-sufficient.

Review questions and activities

Reflecting on the text

List four major problems faced by the poor, and discuss the impact these problems have on their lives.
What is absolute poverty, and how does it affect people around the world.

What do we learn from Alex's story about the life of disabled people in poor countries?
What do the accounts from Liberia and Mozambique reveal to us about the suffering of refugees who are old?
What impact does the lack of shelter have on Laldana's family?

Why does Chicago say about his situation that 'this is not life... this is not living'?
What is meant by the term 'Least Developed Countries'?
Describe some of the major factors that obstruct progress in the Least Developed Countries.

Explain the quotation of the Imam's speech on page 21 in your own words.


Select one of the Least Developed Countries from the list on page 22. Find out about the major difficulties faced by the people of this country in improving their quality of life.

Write an account of the life led by people living in absolute poverty in a selected part of the world. Your writing should be based on relevant information that you have acquired from a variety of sources.

Imagine you are a member of an organisation that wants' to raise people's awareness about the Least Developed Countries. Through group work, plan a publicity campaign that will help you achieve your aim.


Find out more about the poorest section of the population in your country. What steps are being taken to help reduce poverty in your country?

Write an account of the life led by people living in absolute poverty in a selected part of the world. Your writing should be based on relevant information that you have acquired from a variety of sources.
Imagine you are a member of an organisation that wants' to raise people's awareness about the Least Developed Countries, through group work, plan a publicity campaign that will help you achieve your aim,


Some people think that poverty is caused by the greed and indifference of the rich. Others are of the opinion that the poor are to blame for not making enough effort to improve their lives. Discuss both these claims being made.


'The poor have always existed in every society. Poverty is something that cannot be permanently removed.' To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view? State the reasons behind your thinking.


Millions of people in developing countries suffer from absolute poverty. They are unable to meet their most basic human needs.

1.3     Questions of life and death

Rising awareness

In the past few decades, people across the world have become increasingly aware of global problems. Through newspapers, radio and television, we have come to learn about the suffering experienced by people as a result of famine, floods, earthquakes, wars and other disasters.

People have also become aware of the great gap that exists between the living conditions of those in developed and developing countries. The wealth to be found in developed countries is reflected in advertisements of expensive products, Such as cars, clothes, cosmetics and technology. This prosperity contrasts sharply with the lack of basic necessities experienced by millions of people in poor countries.

Studies produced by the United Nations and other organisations reveal the level of wealth of each country. These studies show significant differences between rich and poor countries in the amount of funding available for areas such as education, health care, agriculture, transport and basic services such as electricity and water. These reports also point to an imbalance flow of wealth between different countries, and the underlying factors causing poverty in different parts of the world.

Hard questions

Governments, non-government organisatlons (NGOs), development agencies groups and ordinary people are asking hard questions about the global situation. Why are there major differences of wealth between various nations? Why is poverty not being reduced, but is rather increasing and becoming widespread with passing years. What are the causes and factors
leading to this disparity?

In recent years, efforts have been made at different levels to address these issues. The United Nations national governments and development agencies have undertaken numerous studies to gain a greater understanding of situation of people living in areas affected by serious problems. Delegates of various nations have come together in international conferences every year to discuss these issues.

Many organisations have been formed to seek ways of addressing some of the major problems facing societies. Charity groups are involved in raising money to wide variety of programmes both in developed and developing countries.

In recent years, new global movements and pressure have emerged who feel nothing is being done. They are to raise greater awareness among the public about the underlying roots of poverty.


What types of crises and responses have arisen in recent decades that have impacted on global and local development?


• Development agencies
• non-governmental organisations (NGOs)


Collect articles on problems related to development that has appeared in your national news papers over the past month. What can you conclude about the level of public awareness in your country about difficulties faced by developed and developing countries?

Crisis and responses
(Adapted from the International Institute for Sustainable Development website, 2003. (
In recent times, we have become increasingly aware of life and death events that affect millions of people around the world. Theses incidents include natural disasters as well as man-made crisis, war and catastrophes. The following time line identifies some of the critical events that have impacted on development since the 1970s. It also includes examples of international responses to issues faced by human beings all over the world.
1970s: Bangladesh tropical cyclone.300,000 to 500,000 people dead in wind and storm surge.
1972-75: Sahel drought in Africa.600,000 people estimated dead.
1972: UN Conference on Human Environment held in Stockholm. The conference focuses on pollution and acid rain problems of northern Europe. It leads to the setting up of many national environmental protection agencies and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
1973: OPEC oil crisis leads to concerns about non renewable energy sources.
1976: Earthquake in Tangshan, China. The number of people killed varies between the official 255,000 and an estimated 655,000.
1981: World Health Assembly unanimously adopts a Global Strategy for Health for All by the year 2000. Governments are urged to attain a level of health by all people of the world that would permit them to lead productive lives.
I982: UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is adopted. It sets up rules on the environmental standards and provisions to safeguard the marine environment.

1982: International debt crisis erupts and threatens the world financial system. Economic growth stops for Latin America and other developing regions in the 1980s.
1982: The United Nations World Charter for Nature published. It adopts the principle that every form of life is unique and should be respected regardless of its value to humankind. It also calls for an understanding of our dependence on natural resources and the need to control our exploitation of them.
1983: HIV/AIDS virus identified as the disease spreads around the world. By the end of the year 2000, 36.1 million adults and children are estimated to be living with HIV. A total of 21.8 million people are estimated to have died from AIDS since the start of the pandemic, 75 per cent of who are Africans.

1984: Toxic chemical leak from a pesticides factory leads 10,000 dead and 300,000 injured in Bhopal, India.

1984: Drought in Ethiopia. Between 250,000 and 1 million people die from starvation.

1985: Climate Change. Meeting of international environmental organizations in Austria reports on the build up of CO2 and other 'green house gases' in the atmosphere. They predict global warming.

1985: Antarctic zone hole discovered by scientists.

1986: accident at nuclear station in Chernobyl in Ukraine causes a massive toxic radio active explosion.

1989: Exxon Valdez tanker runs aground, dumping 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound.


1990: Earthquake in Rasht, Iran kills 50,000 people.

1990: UN Summit for Children. Important recognition of the impact of environment on future generations.

1991: Hundreds of oil fires burn out of control in Kawait for months following the Persian Gulf War.

1991: Bangladesh tropical cyclone leaves 1,30,000 people dead.
1992: Hurricane Andrew hits the USA, resulting in property damage added up to $25 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster in American history.

1992: Start of the Bosnian- Serbian war. 'Ethnic Cleansing' leads to the death of 100,000 Muslim Bosnians with 3 million forced to leave their homes.

1992: Earth Summit. UN Conference on Environmental and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro. Agreements reached on biological diversity, climate change, the Rio Declaration and the conservation of forests.

1993: World Conference on Human Rights. Governments reaffirm their international commitments to all human rights. Appointment of the first UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

1994: 500,000 Rwandans massacred in ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutis. 3 million people are displaced within Rwanda, and 3 million more flee as refugees to neighbouring countries.

1995:    World Trade Organisation established. It recognises the close linkage between trade, environment and development.

1995:    World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen Denmark. For the first time, the international community expresses a clear commitment to eradicate absolute poverty.
1995:    Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing China. Delegates adopt the Being Declaration and platform for Action, aiming to realise women's rights as human rights.
1997:    Asian ecological and financial chaos. Land clearing fires result in a haze blanketing the region. The fires cause widespread damage to the environment and affect people's health.
1998:    Signing of the Kyoto Protocol. Delegates to the UN conference on climate change sign the Kyoto Protocol. This document sets goals for reducing gas emission
1998:    Controversy over genetically modified organisms.
Concerns raised over genetically modified (GM) food products' The EU blocks import of GM crops from North America, and farmers in developing countries rebel against GM seed that will only germinate once.

1998: Unusually severe weather. China experiences worst floods in decades; two-thirds of Bangladesh underwater for several months from torrential monsoons; Hurricane Mitch destroys parts of Central America, and leaves 11,000 dead; 54 countries hit by floods and 45 by drought; Earth hits highest global temperature ever recorded.
1999: The World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development releases its report Our Forests... Our Future, it concludes that the world's material needs from forests can be satisfied without harming them by changing the way we value and manage forests.
1999: Third World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference held in Seattle, Washington, U.S. Thousands of demonstrators take to the streets to protest the negative effects of globalisation and growth of global corporations.
1999: World population surpasses 6 billion. World population was estimated to be about 1 billion in 1804. It is projected to be 7 billion in 2013 and 8 billion in 2028.
1999: Serbia-Kosovo conflict. An estimated 860,000 civilians are forced out of Kosovo and become refugees. Approximately 500,000 people are left homeless, and over 120,000 buildings damaged or destroyed. Around 190 mass graves are discovered, and a further 300 sites awaiting to be excavated.


2000: Increasing urbanisation. Almost half of the world's population now lives in cities that occupy less than two per cent of the Earth's land surface, but use 75 per cent of the Earth's resources.
2000: The Second World Water Forum and Ministerial allies held in The Netherlands and attended by 5.700 participants from all parts of the world and 120 ministers. It results in the Declaration of The Hague on Water Security in the 21st Century. It calls for the sustainable use and management of water resources.
2000: United Nations Millennium Summit. The largest ever gathering of world leaders adopts the United Nations World Summit Declaration, which identifies major principles and goals in key priority areas. World leaders agree that the UN's first priority is the eradication of extreme poverty. The need for a world economy that is fair to all countries is highlighted.
2000: Miss Waldron's red colobus monkey declared extinct. This species is the first extinction in several centuries of a member of the Primate Order to which human beings belong. According to the IUCN Red Book 11,046 species are threatened with extinction.

2001: Earthquake In Gujarat, India, kills over 30,000 people.
2001: Terrorists destroy the World Trade Center in New York and damage the Pentagon in Washington. It is the first serious attack on U.S. soil since 1814.

2002-3: Afghanistan and Iraq war. United States and its engage on a war on terrorism by invading Afghanistan and Iraq.
Review questions and activities

Reflecting on the text

What factors have led to an increase in our awareness of global problems in recent times? What kinds of questions are increasingly asked about differences in the life of people in developed and developing countries?
Examine the timeline of events identified on pages 26-29. Which factors do you think have had a serious impact on the quality of life of people in various parts of the world?
How have these factors affected the development of communities at the national and local levels?
Focus on events that reflect international responses to global issues. What do these events tell us about kinds of crises facing people around the world?
To what extent do the United Nations Millennium Development Goals reflect the difficulties faced by people in various region of the world?
To what extent do you think these goals will be achieved by the year 2015? What else needs to be done in order to alleviate poverty and address global issues?


Select one of the disasters identified on pages 26-29. Do a case study of this disaster, gathering as much information on it as you can. Focus on the impact that the disaster had on the people who were affected by it. Discuss what could have been done to prevent the disaster or reduce its impact.

Choose one of the international conferences or summits mentioned on pages 26-29. Do a presentation on this event, identifying the reasons why it was held, who participated in it, and what were major outcomes. Discuss the extent to which the recommendations identified have been met.

Examine the Millennium Development Goals listed on page 30. Find out the extent to which your country has met each of these goals. What factors are hindering the achievement of some or all of these goals in developing countries?

Select one of the Least Developed Countries listed on page 22. To what extent have the Millennium Development Goals been met by this country? What factors would assist the country in making rapid progress towards these goals?


Identify some of the critical issues of development faced by your focal community. In what ways are these issues connected with the larger global crises faced by people all over the world?


Some people claim that the United Nations Millennium Development Goals are too ambitious and cannot be achieved by 2015. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view?


To what extent have modern media such as television and radio, increased the public's awareness of poverty and development-related issues? What else can be done to increase the understanding of people about these issues?


Development-related issues have become an important focus at the international level in recent years. There is an urgent need to address the desperate situation of millions of poor people around the world.

Unit 1: A divided world?

Review questions
  1. The rich and the poor

  • What is meant by the terms developed' countries and 'developing' countries?
  • What other terms are used to describe differences of development between nations? How appropriate are these terms?
  • What is the difference between the quality of life experienced by people in developing countries, compared to that found in developed countries?
  • What do the examples of Norway and Mali reveal about the standard of living in the North and the South?
1.2     The struggle to survive

  • Identify some of the major problems faced by people living in developing countries.
  • What impact do these problems have on their quality of life?
  • What is meant by the term 'absolute poverty?
  • What do the examples of refugees in Africa and Asia teach us
    about the experience of absolute poverty?

  • What do you understand by the term Least Developed Country'? Give some examples of these kinds of countries.
  • What are some of the factors that are limiting the rate
    of development in the Least Developed Countries?

1.3     Questions of life and death

  • In what ways has the awareness of the public increased about global issues related to development?
  • What are some of the questions that have been raised at various levels about the situation of the poorest communities?
  • What are some of the responses that have arisen at the international level to development-related issues? Give some examples of important milestones that reflect these responses.
  • What are the United Nations Millennium Development Goals? What do these goals reveal to us about the needs faced by millions of people in poor regions of the world?

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