Livelihoods / Malawi / NRM / WLE

Balanced on a knife edge between sorrow and hope: 48 ‘least-developed countries’

Farm child in Malawi #3

A young girl, Geneleti Luis, in Khulungira Village, in central Malawi. Malawi is one of the world’s 48 least developed countries. Khulungira is 27 km from the nearest paved road and 50 km from the nearest town. There is no electricity and no running water. No one here owns a car or a motorcycle and few parents can afford to send their children to secondary school (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

It’s time for a fresh start for the world’s least developed countries, says Cheick Sidi Diarra, UN under secretary general and high representative for the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states. There are 48 ‘least-developed countries’ (LDCs): 33 located in sub-Saharan Africa, 14 in southern Asia and Oceania, and 1 (Haiti) in the western hemisphere.

‘. . . Balanced on a knife edge between sorrow and hope, the case of the LDCs poses the next big globalisation challenge.

‘The last two decades have witnessed a surge in the emerging-market countries such as Brazil, China, India and Indonesia. The millennium development goals’ target of reducing extreme poverty in the world has already been met, ahead of schedule. Because of this surge, the final group of countries to remain mired in endemic poverty now have a fighting chance of moving up–perhaps their best chance in recent history.

‘Globally, people are aware of and sympathetic to international efforts to fight poverty, disease and illiteracy, and to sustain natural environments. Investors are now eager to engage on a worldwide stage, and the world’s new investors–the rising powers from the global south–are fast becoming major LDC trading and investment partners. . . .

‘A report out on Tuesday, by a blue-ribbon panel co-chaired by former Mali president Alpha Konaré and former World Bank president James Wolfensohn, points out the danger of a two-track world–advancing developed and emerging-market countries, floundering poor ones representing more than a billion people by 2020–if we fail. . . .’

Read the whole article in the Guardian‘s Poverty Matters Blog: ‘”Least developed countries” pose the next big globalisation challenge,’ 30 March 2011.

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