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LDC: The Most Unfortunate of the World

You are a 35 year-old female citizen of rural Afghanistan in the year 2003. Back when you were 2 years old in 1971, the UN classified your country as an Least Developed Country (LDC). But what does that mean? That means you were put into a community of 12% of the world population that only accounts for 2% of the world’s GDP and 1% of global trade. Why would they do this? It wasn’t to laugh at the LDC. The UN had wanted to bring special attention to your country and some of the other poorest/weakest countries in the global community to acquire assistance from more developed countries.

But let’s go back to your country, Afghanistan. Also let’s say you are married and currently pregnant. That unborn child has over a 25% chance of dying before he/she’s five years old. As for you, you are expected to live for about seven more years. Also as a woman, you are most likely illiterate because of the 21% literacy rate opposed to the male literacy rate of 51%. Going to your husband, he most likely works with 66% of the workforce in agriculture. He works to bring you electricity that’s only available to 5% of the population. Or maybe for improved sanitary water that 11% of the population has. But by just looking at these numbers, it’s fairly certain that he can’t. These depressing statistics are made even more depressing after you realize that this is in the context of the Afghanistan War, bringing even more poverty, mental damage, and the death of over 26,000 civilians 12 years later.

Fast forwarding to present day back to yourself, we’ve gotten a nice look at the typical life of one living in a LDC. I hope you can now see why these countries are called LDC for a reason. The list of LDC give us a good place to start to look at when analyzing global poverty. But to comprehend the LDC list, we need to look at how LDC are identified, then hopefully quickly graduate from the list.

To be identified as an LDC, the Committee for Development (CDP), Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and UN General Assembly are involved. Simply put, every three years the CDP recommends certain countries to be included in the list of CPD, ECOSOC takes the CPD recommendation and publicizes it, and finally the UN General Assembly approves or disapproves of the recommendation. The CDP creates this recommendation using the Gross National Income per capita (GNI), Human Assets Index (HAI), and Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI). The HAI measures human capital with: Percent of population undernourished, mortality rate for children ages five and less, gross secondary school enrollment ratio, and adult literacy rate. The EVI measures how stable an economy is with various factors as well, including population, instability of exports of goods and services, victims of natural disasters, etc..

To graduate is a bit more of a complicated process but essentially the identification process but opposite. To be eligible, a country has to pass 2 of each the criteria of GNI, GAI, and EVI. Or there’s another route where the GNI per capita is twice the graduation threshold levels. Before the country gets its cap, gown, and diploma, CDP has to recommend, ECOSOC has to endorse, the the UN General Assembly decides. The successful graduates have been Botswana, Cape Verde, Maldives, and Samoa so far, with Samoa the most recent, graduating in 2014.

Thank you for reading through that complex process and no, I didn’t just list it out just to torment you. There is a benefit to knowing it. It shows that the UN believes that the GNI, GAI, and EVI are important in deciding a country’s well being. We can now also highly consider those three indexes in our own research in analyzing countries struck by poverty.

Next week we’ll be focusing upon the effects of poverty so see you then.

About Jason Choi

Jason Choi is currently a senior attending high school in California. In college he wishes to major in International Development. He also has a strong interest in economics. Outside of schoolwork, Jason spends his time leading his Model UN and Debate team. To relax he also enjoys playing tennis and listening/composing jazz.

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One comment

  1. Hello,Thank you for this. I would like to know the source of the Total amotnus of development aid given to poor countries, by type of aid in numbers(figures) from 1960-2011 just like you have done from 1990-2011 in the two different figures. I have tried to find them in the OECD database but am unable to. I know that is a valid source but i cannot get the right figures. Can you tell me how you did it?