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definition of a third world country

What is the definition of a third world country? In many countries, when people hear the phrase “third world country”, visions of impoverished countries struggling to meet basic human needs are the first to pop up. This might be true in today’s society, but the original definition of a third world country referred to the nations that lacked an alliance with either the U.S. or the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.

In recent years, the term has come to define countries that have high poverty rates, economic instability and lack basic human necessities like access to water, shelter or food for its citizens. These countries are often underdeveloped, and in addition to widespread poverty, they also have high mortality rates.

Definition of a Third World Country Underlying Meaning

In terms of the “worlds” system, they are ranked from first world to third world. The first world refers to the countries that are more developed and industrialized societies; in other words, capitalist societies that aligned with the U.S. and NATO during the Cold War. This includes North America, Japan, Western Europe and Australia.  

Second world countries refer to the countries that lean more toward a socialist society, and generally were allied with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. These countries include Russia, Poland, China and some Turk states.  

Third world countries are all the other countries that did not pick a side. This includes most of Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, this definition includes countries that are economically stable, which does not fit the currently accepted definition of a third world country.

As a society, the term “third world country” refers to countries with high mortality rates, especially infant mortality rates. They also have an unstable and inconsistent economy. These are countries that contain massive amounts of poverty and in some cases have fewer natural resources than other nations throughout the world. These countries often have to rely on more industrialized countries to aid them and help stabilize their economy.

These countries usually lack economic stability because of the lack of a functioning class system. Usually, the country will have an upper class and a lower class. Without a middle class to fill the gap, there is almost no way for a person to escape poverty because there is no next step for them on the economic ladder. This also allows the wealthy to control all the money in the country. This is detrimental to the economy of the country, and both increases and helps to sustain the poverty running rampant throughout the country while allowing the upper class to keep their wealth to themselves.

These countries often accrue a copious amount of debt from foreign countries because of the constant aid they need from other countries to keep their economy afloat and provide some financial stability to the citizens of the country.

The definition of a third world country has evolved from the political meaning during the Cold War to the economic meaning of today. Today’s meaning refers to countries that are in financial trouble and need help from other countries to keep their economy sustainable, at least for a short time.

– Simone Williams

Photo: Wikipedia

 

The Link Between Poverty and EpidemicsOn Jan. 18, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to continue funding for H.R. 1660, or the Global Health Innovation Act, with an overwhelming vote of 423-3. The Global Health Innovation Act will support the progress of health innovations for USAID, the top U.S. government agency that works to end global poverty.

According to the original bill H.R. 2241, nearly nine million people die per year due to diseases and health conditions, many of which are preventable. USAID’s goal is to lower this statistic as much as possible and create democratic governments within underdeveloped societies.

The Global Health Innovation Act was reintroduced by Democratic Representative Albio Sires and other U.S. Representatives on March 21, 2017. Republican U.S. Representative of Florida Mario Diaz-Balart stated in a press release, “I am proud to reintroduce this critical piece of legislation with my friend, Rep. Albio Sires. It is more important than ever that the United States invest in global health and continue to deliver state-of-the-art medical devices and technologies.”

The Global Health Innovation Act will cost an estimated $500,000 or less from 2018-2022. This estimated amount by the Congressional Budget Office is subject to the availability of funds during each fiscal year. The bill would require USAID to track and report four annual updates to Congress of the developed health innovations and programs implemented.

These annual reports would track the extent to which health innovations have advanced, how progress is being measured and how these innovations are reaching set goals. The reports will also describe drugs, devices, vaccines, medical devices and technologies which are funded by the act. This detail is included to guarantee U.S. tax dollars are being spent in a logical and effective manner.

What work does USAID do?

USAID works toward sustainable global health by prioritizing three major goals: preventing child and mother deaths, controlling the HIV and AIDs epidemic and fighting infectious diseases. The overall goal of USAID is to improve health globally by bringing attainable medical innovations to impoverished countries in order to build better health systems. Through donors and partners, USAID has been working toward these goals and the Global Health Innovation Act will help bring these goals to reality.

Who is rallying for the Global Health Innovation Act?

U.S. Democratic Representatives Gerald Connolly (VA), Eliot Engel (NY), Brad Sherman (CA), David Cicilline (RI) and William Keating (WA) cosponsored the H.R. 1660 bill on March 21, 2017. Slowly, more Democratic Representatives joined them, including Suzan DelBene (WA), Joyce Beatty (OH), Nydia Velazquez (NY), Zoe Lofgren (CA), Ted Lieu (CA) and Timothy Walz (MN). Now that the bill has passed in the House of Representatives, it is important to continue rallying for its success as it still must pass in the Senate and be signed by President Trump.

How does it benefit the U.S.?

Global health is an important humanitarian concern as well as a business investment. Investing in global health creates new jobs and economic growth. According to Congressman Sires, between 2007 and 2015 global health investments generated $33 billion and 200,000 jobs. Investing in global health research and development has already impacted the U.S. with new health technologies. H.R. 1660 will continue to open doors for not only global health but also for the U.S. economy and technology.

What can be done to mobilize Congress?

Constituents across the U.S. can rally in support of the Global Health Innovation Act by calling or emailing Congress through a very simple process. Find the contact information for the appropriate Representatives here and Senators here. The Borgen Project has also provided a helpful tool to send emails through a template to Congress, which can be found here.

Contacting U.S. Senators and Representatives is effective because Congress staffers take a tally of every issue that constituents reach out for. This small bit of activism keeps important bills on the radar for Congressional leaders and can make a significant difference in a bill’s success. Even the smallest efforts can help create global change for people facing poverty.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr

Apps That Help Impoverished Countries: iCow
As technology improves around the world, more apps have been developed that aim to help impoverished countries. An example of one of the apps that help impoverished countries is called iCow. iCow is an app that aims to reduce cow mortality rates and educate farmers on proper agricultural practices.

In many African countries, farmers have no formal training. As a result of a lack of formal training in agriculture, farmers do not know how to properly raise farm animals. This is problematic because these farmers are the foundation for growing crops that feed the nation. In an effort to combat this problem, the iCow app was made to help these farmers.

The app in itself is easy to use. After the initial registration, farmers type in information about their cows, such as their weight and calving dates. Once the farmers key in this information, the iCow app can give tailored advice about how to take care of their cows.

Not only does it give tailored information, but the iCow app also gives tips on breeding, animal nutrition and milk production. Farmers will benefit from the specific advice given to care for their cows as well as general advice that will assist them in the future.

The app also works like a calendar for cows. It keeps records about milking schedules and immunization dates. The app provides farmers with good veterinarians in the area for their cows.

Even though the app is called the iCow, this app is not exclusive to Apple products or smartphones. The iCow app is made to work for all mobile devices, so any farmer with a phone can use it.

As a result of its universality and wide availability, nearly 60,000 farmers in Tanzania and Ethiopia have registered to use the iCow app. These farmers are able to breed healthier animals that can be sold and produce food for the nation. These healthier animals are not only better for consumption, but they bring in more money for the farmers.

The iCow app is not only one of the many apps that help impoverished countries, it is an app that helps maintain healthier food security.

Food security is an issue that many impoverished countries face. Finding solutions to these problems is the key to helping raise countries out of poverty. Apps that help impoverished countries, like the iCow app, can change millions of lives. The iCow app aims to ensure that the citizens of impoverished countries are well fed.

– Daniel Borjas

Photo: Flickr

Cardiovascular diseases cause a large number of deaths around the world. Unfortunately, treating cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries can be difficult. In the African country Cameroon, there are only about 50 cardiologists for about 20 million people. The Cardiopad is an innovative technology that aims to alleviate this problem.

The location of doctors throughout Cameroon tends to disadvantage those who live in rural areas. In the villages around the suburbs, there are general practitioners who treat the villagers. A large number of these practitioners do not have a specialization, so they cannot do much beyond recommending patients go see a specialist if they believe they need one.

If a patient is experiencing chest pains or shows symptoms of a cardiovascular disease, they make an appointment to see a cardiologist in the city. Because there are so few cardiologists, it can take months before they are seen, and many will die before seeing a specialist.

Arthur Zang, the inventor of the Cardiopad, noticed this issue and set out to fix it. Zang understood that going to see a doctor from the Cameroon villages was difficult, so he invented a way to lessen the need to make a trip to the city. He created the Cardiopad, a tablet device with electrodes that can give a 97.5 percent accurate reading of the heart. Essentially, it is a mobile electrodiagram (ECG).

Although Zang provided general practitioners with the tools to perform a heart scan, they still do not have the proper training to interpret the scans themselves. The information gathered from the Cardiopad is actually sent to the national data center, and it is then received by the cardiologists in the city. Once the cardiologists receive the heart scan, they can interpret the results to see what kind of treatment is needed and can send treatment recommendations back to the general practitioner. The process that would ordinarily take many months can now be done within 20 minutes.

This is a phenomenal step forward for diagnosing and treating cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries. Now, even in rural Cameroon, local practitioners can work with cardiologists and can properly diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases.

Furthermore, the technology eases the economic burden of traveling and medical expenses for patients. The Cardiopad only costs $29 a year to use, compared to the staggering costs of going to see a specialist. In this way, the Cardiopad saves time and money for patients in need.

Treating cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries has become much easier with the Cardiopad. It allows rural residents to get the proper diagnosis they may need in order to save their lives. The Cardiopad is being distributed in Cameroon, India, Gabon and Nepal, and more countries are sure to follow. The Cardiopad can potentially save millions of lives that would have been taken from cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries.

– Daniel Borjas

Photo: Flickr

What the Pope’s Encyclical Means for the World’s Poor-TBP

In June, Pope Francis aligned himself with mainstream science by accepting the truth of climate change. With the release of his 184 page encyclical that calls for immediate action on climate change, Francis has added a moral scope to the biggest problem that humanity has ever encountered.

In it, Francis cites the mindless drive toward monetary gain and economical shortsightedness as the main reasons humanity is this situation today.

While environmentalists around the world applaud the encyclical as a much needed call to action by country and individual alike, the encyclical also revealed who would be impacted the most by climate change: the poor.

Francis says the poorest have been left in the wake of consumerist ambitions of the richest nations. They are being displaced and disregarded.

He also implores that the countries mainly responsible for the climate crisis have an obligation to help the poorest countries.

Numerous studies back the words of Francis’s encyclical. In 2014, the U.N. Climate Panel released a report that found that global climate change, while affecting everyone, would affect poorer countries more and threaten human security.

The report notes the risk climate change presents to agriculture. As some regions become dryer and hotter, food yields will suffer. In an interview with The Guardian in 2014, Princeton Professor Michael Oppenheimer said that even now, the poorest countries are already struggling to adapt their agriculture methods. If climate change is left unchecked, the lack of food will result in higher prices and competition, thus causing violence and the destabilization of poor regions.

Impoverished countries also face heightened potential for natural disasters. Natural disasters are indeed, natural, and every country is at risk for them. However, the wealth of a country plays a pivotal role in how they are responded to.

When a natural disaster goes through an impoverished region, aid response is significantly slower. More people will end up dying from malnutrition and dehydration than from the actual disaster.

Maarten van Aalst, who directs the Red Cross Climate Center and co-authored the report, said that from 2000 to 2009, the number of natural disasters tripled compared to the same period in the 1980s.

This rise is attributed to climate change.

The poorest countries were already at a disadvantage. With climate change, those same countries may have a harder time climbing out of poverty.

Professors Francis Moore and Delavane Diaz out of Stanford published a study earlier this year noting the relationship between poverty and heat.

Impoverished countries, on average, are located in significantly hotter regions than non-impoverished countries. As mentioned by the U.N. report, agriculture in these countries are already struggling with adapting to the changing climate.

Moore and Diaz note that climate change will lower per-capita GDP in poor regions from 3.2 to 2.6%, making it harder to grow economically. This directly supports the findings in the U.N. report.

Wealthy countries are expected to continue economical growth.

With his encyclical, Pope Francis has not so subtly nudged the developed world to action on the environmental crisis. In doing so, extreme poverty may also be confronted as well.

– Kevin Meyers

Sources: The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, New York Times
Photo: Grist

 

Impoverished Countries
The term “Third World” is often used to describe the impoverished nations across the globe. According to Business Insider, the following list represents the 20 most impoverished developing countries from lowest to highest by GDP per capita:

  1. Democratic Republic of Congo
  2. Republic of Zimbabwe
  3. Republic of Burundi
  4. Republic of Liberia
  5. State of Eritrea
  6. Republic of Niger
  7. Central African Republic
  8. Republic of Sierra Leone
  9. Togolese Republic (Togo)
  10. Republic of Malawi
  11. Republic of Madagascar
  12. Republic of Mozambique
  13. Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
  14. Republic of Guinea
  15. Republic of Rwanda
  16. Republic of Mali
  17. Republic of Uganda
  18. Federal Republic of Nepal
  19. Burkina Faso
  20. Republic of Haiti

Eighteen of these countries are in Africa. The widespread famine and war that have plagued the continent for decades, along with the hardships resulting from several nations’ recent independence from colonial European powers have all contributed to the poverty endured in the country.

Of the numerous conditions that perpetuate poverty within the countries listed above, three factors dominate: drought, political instability and failure to harness resources.

What Creates Impoverished Countries

Water shortage has long been cited as one of the leading contributors to poverty. Severe droughts afflict nearly every third world nation on this list, causing a domino effect of failed crops, health concerns and further impoverishment.

Governmental instability prolongs poverty by fragmenting nations. Lack of political security and centrality undermine every inferior structure within the national hierarchy. Corruption, dictatorships and military rule impede economic development by institutionalizing instability and failing to address the issues that arise from poverty.

Although some of these countries contain valuable resources, few third world nations possess the capital to develop proper infrastructure. This results in an inability to exploit these assets or yield any profit from them.

The three poorest countries in the world, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Burundi, all have a GDP per capita of $400 or less, according to Business Insider. This is less than one one-hundredth of the United States’ GDP per capita.

So what’s the good news? There are tangible solutions to these three problems, and several developing countries are already beginning to pursue them.

Rwanda, rich with minerals and having received external aid after the genocide, shows signs of hope. Guinea and the Central African Republic show promise as well, if they can advance their industries and attain political stability. The Togolese Republic, working to repair its relationship with the international community and improve productivity through market privatization and foreign donor support, is experiencing some economic progress.

External contributors, such as the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, are supporting industry development and helping lay the groundwork for business in third world countries. Local governments are slowly shifting from military leadership to democracy. The progression of technology is creating more efficient ways to grow crops and utilize existing water sources.

The third world countries listed above are still far from escaping the bondage of poverty. Their greatest setbacks are their limited means for improving their conditions. But with the intervention and assistance of external powers, the improvement of infrastructure and the development of autonomous governments, there is potential for progress.

– Zoe Smith

Sources: Business Insider, One World Nations, The World Bank
Photo: World Knowing