The so-called ‘third world’ has more than its fair share of problems, but plenty of developing nations are definitely getting on the right track. So pull your head out of your privileged, first-world butt for two minutes and check out these misconception-busting facts about less-economically-developed countries.
2. 1) In Bangladesh, each woman gives birth to only 2.2 children on average
That’s a national average by the way; nobody has given birth to two tenths of a child. In fact, fertility rates across Bangladesh have more than halved in the past 30 years, consistent with falling fertility rates throughout Asia and in many parts of Africa.
Declining fertility has come about in response to higher literary levels and decreased infant mortality, bringing many ‘third world’ countries in line with the global average of 2.1 children per woman.
This is the main reason that in 2100 the world’s population will probably be around to 9 or 10 billion, as opposed to the oft-quoted 15 billion, so we can put off that Martian colony for at least a few more centuries.
3. 2) 93% of Ethiopian infants now live to adulthood
That’s a 13% point increase since the early 90s. In a country with a larger population than Texas, New York and California combined, that’s not a lot of not dead babies.
Of course, reduced infant mortality rate also means that women don’t have to spend the majority of their adult lives pregnant, giving them more time to access education and subsequently develop careers, contribute to developing economies, improve societal infrastructure…all that good stuff.
Basically, fewer deceased infants is a bit of an all-round win; who knew?
4. 3) 85% of women in Botswana can read and write
Africa and Asia have both experienced an explosion in female literacy. 30 years ago, it was virtually unheard of for women in developing countries to be educated; today, this has become the norm. By any standards, that’s a remarkable turn-around.
Still unimpressed? Let’s put it into perspective. A national study by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy in 2013 found that 14 per cent of American adults can’t read, putting national American literacy rate at 86%.
Memes aside, this is a pretty staggering first-world problem.
5. 4) 85% of children in Namibia finish primary school
Better health and education create the mother of all virtuous circles. When mums can afford to keep their kids healthy and don’t need them to work, they send them to school (children are annoying, which in this instance is a really good thing.)
Even the poorest countries in the world send most of their children to school, meaning that each generation will successively improve on the last in terms of education and subsequent career prospects.
Ultimately, the outcome of this process is a country with fewer subsistence farmers and more teachers, doctors, comedy webmasters etc. This is how developing nations eventually become self-determinant.
6. 5) 35% of people in Kenya use mobile banking
To go from a scenario where nobody in your country can even afford a mobile phone to a third of the population managing their finances on the bus is frankly miraculous.
There were no mobile phones in Kenya 20 years ago, but today it’s common for Kenyans to pay for utilities and school fees by text, most commonly with the popular M-Pesa app. More than a mere convenience, the capacity to save and invest money is crucial to building a strong economy, a development aided immeasurably by mobile technologies.
Of course, all this progress could go to pot if we end up with another generation of adolescent Angry Birds addicts.
7. 6) The life expectancy of a child born today in Egypt is 73
Bear with me on this one.
The Egyptian lifespan is still seven years lower you’d expect for the average American. However, it’s an improvement over the life expectancy of Black people in urban centres (71 years) and about on par with Native American populations in the States.
And bad news for the Bible belt: whatever your colour or creed, if you’re born in Mississippi your life expectancy is closer to someone born in Egypt, Brazil or India than to someone born in Minnesota.
I can hear plane tickets being purchased at this very moment.
8. 7) In Rwanda 97% of new-borns receive vaccinations
Yep, you read that right: 97%. This is a much higher rate than in the US, most likely because the folks in Rwanda don’t have the luxury of getting their panties in a bunch over bullshit medical conspiracies; or maybe they’ve just got more sense than the Average yank.
Either way, mass vaccination has slashed infant mortality in half throughout Rwanda in just 10 years. As we’ve already established: fewer dead babies = good.
9. 8) 73% of people in rural Burkina Faso have access to improved water sources
Again this is bad, because it means that 27% don’t. But in 2014, even if you live in the poorest and most remote part of one of the world’s poorest and most remote countries, the chances are you get clean, safe water that nothing and nobody has previously pooped in.
This is having the knock-on effect of massively reducing the prevalence of killer diseases like dysentery, E. coli and cholera; all of which tend to involve lots of pooping. Less pooping results in less poop-infested water, thus less pooping diseases and even less pooping! And thus the poop-reduction cycle continues.
10. 9) More people in poor countries now die from Cancer than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined
Yes, this is genuinely good news. Whereas that the majority of sub-Saharan Africans used to die young from infectious ‘third world’ diseases, now many more are succumbing to the same illnesses that terminate millions of westerners every year. Uh, yay?
Okay, seriously, this is good news because it means that medical and structural advances have effectively combated diseases considered inveterate to developing countries, leaving us more scope to focus on the shit that continues to kill folks the world over.
So c’mon, hooray for cancer! Nope…still sounds weird.
11. 10) 75% of the world’s poorest people do not live in the world’s poorest countries
Globally, only 25% of people who live in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 a day) reside in countries with low economic development: the majority live in middle-income countries like Brazil and China - nations that are known for their fast economic growth.
This is thanks in no small part to globalisation; the differences in relative wealth between people in the same country are much larger than the differences in wealth between different countries. Let’s hear it for modern capitalism, right!