Blog 1 (Fall 2016) – Sustainability in Developing Countries, by Roxana Rosala

Hello everyone, my blog post is going to be about sustainability in developing countries. I will be focusing on two main topics: deforestation and water shortage.

First off, we have to ask ourselves the question “Why sustainability?”
After reading up on poverty and watching TedTalks as well as documentaries, such as “Poverty, Inc.” in class, I have formed a thesis on my own. I believe that in order to help stabilize the world economy, we have to help stabilize developing countries’ economies first. However, the only right way to do it, is to do it sustainably.
So we are faced with the question of what we should do. In 2005, the term “sustainable” development was coined. It is defined as “the economic development that is conducted without depletion of natural resources.” It looked as if the world had finally understood what needs to be done. The actions that were necessary in order to achieve sustainable development however, are unclear. In September 2015, member countries of the UN came together to develop a program called “17 goals to transform our world”. 17 goals were set for countries to strive to achieve, in order to make the world an all-around better place. To learn more, you can go to http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment.

As great as the idea sounds, there are still problems with sustainability in the world, in Africa for example. Many communities are less sustainable now than they were 25 years ago due to poverty and water shortage. About two-thirds of Africa’s population derive their income from agriculture, but their production rates have declined steadily due to water shortage and bad soil. The rapid population growth presents another problem. At the current rate, Africa’s population will double in the next 30 years! This will present problems with food security, land tenure, water shortage, and many more. Due to the population growth, many people seek a better life and move from rural areas to more urbanized areas. This rapid urbanization cannot keep going on. Many people already live in slums around city centers without access to electricity or running water. A most crucial factor in the decline of productive agriculture is, that from 1990 to 2000, nearly 56% of Africa’s forests were cut down. This results in low quality soil, no natural recycling of nutrients as well as no regulation of the quality and flow of water.

Although not active in Africa yet, the APP (Asia Pulp and Paper Group) is one of the world’s largest paper and pulp companies. It is based and founded in Indonesia in 1975. Operations are predominanty run across Indonesia and China since the founder was an Indonesian. Since 1990, APP has been trying to help communities around Indonesia. Millions of livelihoods in Jambi, Riau, Serang, Karawang and Mojokerto have been transformed by establishing a series of community development programs, including education support, specialized skills development, natural conservations, and many more. On their website you can access a tab that leads to their “Roadmap to 2020” where they outline some goals they’d like to accomplish in order to make forest management more sustainable. Today, they implement their goals on the reduction of deforestation and increase of recyclable materials in more than 120 countries across 6 continents.

Water is seen as an everyday commodity for many people in Western countriesm however nearly 1 billion people in the developing world don’t have access to safe drinking water. In turn, the very foundation of a country suffers. The shortage of water actively hinders people from spending their time getting an education or working. Take into consideration all the time spent daily on finding and gathering water or all the time taken in order to fight illnesses that originated from unsafe water. This time could be spent on economic development, however the people are fighting a losing battle, because without water, there won’t be any stability in their lives. Worldwide, one out of every 5 deaths of children under 5 is due to a water-related-disease. You can clearly see, that the shortage of water is limiting people’s true potential.

The Water Project is a non-profit organization that has been providing access to safe, clean, and reliable water to communities in sub-Saharan Africa for over 9 years. They are very active in Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone. Instead of following the traditional ways that non-profits and NGOs have been following, they don’t come into a community or village to stay. They arrive, help the community acquire the knowledge needed in order to be water-sustainable, and leave to help a different community. Many times, the communities being helped are far away from other civilization and are completely on their own. The Water Project has trained people come into the communities to teach them about water conservation, the importance of washing your hands and staying clean in order to prevent illnesses, and building dams. The website https://thewaterproject.org/how-we-work shows a few videos, expaining how exactly they work with communities, and the video about the dam left the most impact on me. It shows an empty bed of a river one year, and cuts to a full-blown lake the next. Giving people the gift of a reliable water source is only the first step to helping them become sustainable and able to grow an economy.
Cited works:
“About APP.” APP. Asia Pulp and Paper, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2016.

“Safe and Reliable Water Matters.” The Water Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2016.

“Sustainable Development Goals: 17 Goals to Transform Our World.” UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2016.

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