Problems of the Third World Countries

The term ‘third world’ is quite familiar to our ears. Every day we hear issues regarding third world countries whether they pertain to necessities of life or population growth. Per discussing, the problems of the third world countries one should know what the origin of this phrase is and how it is so commonly used.

Economist Alfred Sauvy in an article in the French magazine L’Observateur of August 14, 1952 comprehended the expression “Third World”. It was a premeditated excerpt to the Third Estate of the French Revolution. This phrase earned universal recognition during the Cold War where many poorer nations remained neutral and convene together to form a non-aligned third world bloc. During the Cold War USA and its allies were considered as the ‘First World’ countries while the East was considered as ‘Second World’ however, the term second world has never gained any recognition. Egypt, India and Yugoslavia were the original members of the third world countries. Today, Asia, Africa, Oceania and Latin America are considered as ‘Third World’ as most of the countries belonging to these continents are underdeveloped and still striving to get rid of the issues related to poverty, water and sanitation problems, population growth, low per capita income and unemployment leading to unrest and less industrialization.

Since the advent of humankind, civilizations fought for water for their survival whether it is through a democratic process or a military escalation. It has been said that the future wars will be fought in a struggle to control the water resources where third world countries will be hardly hit (Agence France Presse, 2001). The major problem of third world countries is water. Availability of drinking water and its accessibility for other uses lead to conflicts within the nations and ethnic groups. For instance, Indo-Pak political confrontation has another angle, which is the distribution of water through rivers. Though both the countries are following the ‘Indus Water Treaty’, every now and then there is a conflict over river water distribution and dams’ construction.

The other major problem of the third world countries is over populace. Most of the third world countries are facing difficulties in adjusting too much population within their boundaries, resulting in migration of people from their home countries to the developing or developed nations. The biggest example is Bangladesh and India from where people migrate to Middle East or even China, which is already highly populated developing nation. Due to over-population and relatively limited resources, China has a ‘One child’ rule where a couple can only bear one child (H. A. Reitsma and J. M. Kleinpenning, 1985).

Another problem in the recent times is Globalization that upholds that everyone must benefit from modern transformation (Phil Marfleet, 1998). Again, the third world countries being the struggling economies, are unable to reap the benefits as they are already encircled within their basic problems and the gap between the first world countries and the third world states widens in all aspects. First world countries utilizing all the time more technology where MNCs, which manufacture items, like clothing, food, and other consumer goods do not need the cheap labor from the third world countries, further deteriorating the situation. Poorer are becoming more poverty-stricken where rich nations are becoming richer than ever. It is important that G8 nations should derive some solution to the problems of third world’s migrating labor class rather than implementing more and more tech based industrial units.


Phil Marfleet (1998), Globalization and the Third World, International Socialism Journal, Issue 81

H. A. Reitsma and J. M. Kleinpenning (1985), the Third World in Perspective

J. Cole, (1987), Development and Underdevelopment

Source by Humaira Asad

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