Tunetra Economics How developed countries can help developing countries

How developed countries can help developing countries

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There are a number of ways in which the governments of rich countries and multilateral donor agencies can help the governments of developing countries achieve their population policy objectives sooner. The most important of these concerns the willingness of rich countries to be of genuine assistance to poor countries in their development efforts, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Such genuine support would consist not only of expanded public and private financial assistance but also of improved trade relations, such as tariff and quota-free access to developed-country markets, more appropriate technology transfers, assistance in developing indigenous scientific research capacities, better international commodity-pricing policies, and a more equitable sharing of the world’s scarce natural resources.

There are two other activities more directly related to fertility moderation in which rich-country governments, international donor agencies, and private non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can play an important assisting role. The . first is the area of research into the technology of fertility control, the contraceptive pill, modern intrauterine devices (IUDs), voluntary sterilisation procedures, and, particularly in the age of AIDS, effective barrier contraception. Research has been going on in this area for a number of years, almost all of it financed by international donor organisations, private foundations, and aid agencies of developed countries. Further efforts to improve the effectiveness of this low-cost contraceptive technology while minimizing the health risks should be encouraged.

The second area includes financial assistance from developed countries for family-planning programmes, public education, and national population policy research activities in the developing countries. This has traditionally. been the primary area of developed-country assistance in the field of population. Total resources devoted to these activities have risen dramatically. It remains an open question, however, whether such resources (especially those allocated to premature family-planning programmes) might not have been more effectively used to achieve their fertility goals had they instead been devoted directly to helping low-income countries to raise the levels of living of their poorest people. As pointed out earlier, it is of little value to have sophisticated family-planning programmes when people are not motivated to reduce family size.

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