Perpetuating Poverty

Problem: poverty in a rural area in the Less-developed-country (LDC) which is causing political and social unrest . Another example of fixes that fail.

Quick Fix: the government (often with USAID or the World Bank) designs a development program for the poor farmers of the region which often times involves making loans to farmers to implement the "development" program -- to buy equipment, fertilizer, seeds, whatever.

Unintended consequence: Because the program was designed from the outside and did not involve local input, it is nearly always inappropriate to the ecological and social conditions of the region. As a result, the project fails and the people are even more in debt to the banks and there has also been a significant degradation of the natural landscape because of the introduction of inappropriate technology. The people are unhappy and there is even more social and political unrest which means we need another FIX.

Many thanks to Kathleen Truman, Environmental Studies Program, University of Nevada Las Vegas, for submitting this example.

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