Prerequisites for Sustainable Development in Developing Countries

Published: 2019-10-15 08:00:00
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In the recent years, countries of the Global South countries have made significant strides towards economic prosperity. Some of the nations of this region already command considerable influence on the global economic affairs. However, a majority of the developing countries face numerous challenges that hinder them from achieving sustainable development. Insufficient food, water, and energy continue to derail their sustainable development agenda. Also, limited education and ethnic conflicts present several drawbacks to the expanding economies. The paper aims to corroborate the significance of food, water, energy and tribal cohesion for sustainable economic growth of developing nations.

Sufficient supply of food, water, and energy constitute a vital ingredient to sustainable economic growth. Food is essential for sustaining livelihoods, and water provides minerals for crops to grow. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (2014), the inadequate understanding of the food-water-energy nexus among South Asia and Southern Africa nations is responsible for the myriad of challenges such economies are facing. In his studies of developing economies, Rasul (2016) finds that government incentives have translated into higher food production as well as the expansion of water and energy. As a result, degradation of the resource base has occurred, resulting in health challenges. Rasul argues that despite the interrelationships between water, food, and energy, developing nations continue to pursue policies that treat the mentioned factors in isolation. Given the above, Global South nations must strengthen coordination between the three sectors to promote diversification through the efficient use of resources. This way, they would manage the nexus, and therefore, sustain economic development.

Industrialization is a significant element in a modern economy, but it must be backed up with the adequate skills for sustainable growth. A considerable literature has expounded on the links between educated populations, skills and productivity. The International Labor Organization (2010) postulates that the prosperity of a nation depends on the number of employed persons and their total output. An educated population not only creates wealth at competitive costs but also helps governments to deal with challenges of an industrialized society, especially the issues of environmental degradation. In their studies about the industrialization challenges in South Asia, Ra, Chin and Liu (2015) find that in spite of the universalization of primary education and enhanced technical and vocation training programs, the majority of Asian South countries continue to struggle. This is as a result of skills mismatches that the booming supply and demand has created in the last few decades. The problem is worse in most of the African countries where economies are resource-based, but little has been recorded in manufacturing due to several missing links, including education. A majority African populations lack the knowledge-intensive skills that are essential in the management of an industrialized economy. In some regions, literacy rates are so low that they cannot sustain a modernized economy. Although developing nations have the advantage of huge populations of working age, little transition little has been done to equip them with the knowledge-intensive skills that would help and sustain industrialization (Ndulu & Chakraborti, 2007). Training of labor force will not only match skills with requirements of an industrialized economy but also build competencies for the future needs of the economy.

Sustainable growth of markets cannot be attained in an environment where there are internal conflicts, and thus, developing nations must effectively tackle the problem for sustainable economic progress. Conflicts in Asia countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sir Lanka, Pakistan, and India include religious conflicts, localized land issues, and rebellions against political and economic marginalization. These conflicts cause tensions and also deny communities opportunities to participate actively in economic activities as well as erode the gains made through the destruction of economic livelihoods. Coupled with natural disasters, these countries lose a lot of economic opportunities as a result of ineffective management of resources; both human capital and natural resources (Ghani, & Iyer, 2010; Batra, 2012). De, Minor, and Sinha, (2016) exploration of impediments to the industrialization of Africa demonstrate that political conflicts, tribal violence, economic marginalization are responsible for the stagnation of growth and development. Corruption and hegemony of the elite make the situation worse. Resources are siphoned away at the expense of education, health, agriculture, and energy essential for sustainable economic growth and industrialization (Ndulu & Chakraborti, 2007).Creation of a homogenous population can foster peace, create education opportunities, increase productivity and attract foreign investments. As a result, citizens will engage more in economic activities towards a shared vision of becoming an industrialized society.

In conclusion, developing nations face many of challenges that prevent them from attaining economic growth and sustainable development. Insufficiency of food, water, and energy prevent Global South countries from carrying out sustainable economic activities. Also, inadequate education denies developing countries the knowledge-intensive skills that are critical for the effective management of an industrialized economy. Moreover, tribal conflicts and political instability disrupt commercial activities as well as hinder the development of the institutions that build stable economies. From the literature review, it can be inferred that sustainable development in emerging economies can only be achieved if the concerned nations resolve to tackle the issues of conflicts, energy, water, education and food to sustain meaningful industrialization.


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De, M. M., Minor, E., & Sinha, S. (2016). Violence, statistics, and the politics of accounting for the dead. New York, NY: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Food and Agriculture Organization. (2014). The Water-Energy-Food Nexus :A new approach in support of food security and sustainable agriculture. Retrieved from Food and Agriculture Organization website:

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Rasul, G. (2016). Managing the food, water, and energy nexus for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in South Asia. Environmental Development, 18, 14-25. doi:10.1016/j.envdev.2015.12.001


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