The rural poor in developing countries need immediate solutions for improved health and economic development. Education is at the root of most of these solutions and most can be quickly implemented. Among immediate solutions are the following:
1. Education. The number one need is education. All other improvements spring from that knowledge. For example, with a knowledge and understanding that invisible microbes and worm eggs cause disease, measures can be undertaken to reduce or eliminate them from water, food and surroundings. If the people believe diseases are caused by witchcraft or other capricious magic, there is no incentive to improve their infrastructure. Once they understand that there are logical causes for diseases and that solutions are possible, improvements will be inevitable.
2. Clean Water. This can be accomplished without electricity by inhabitants if they are shown how. Clean water wells, low sand dams, slow sand filters or similar clean water resources will go a long way toward eliminating the number one killer of infants and young children, diarrhea from contaminated water. If you understood that giving your babies and toddlers contaminated surface water could make them very sick or kill them, you would gladly do whatever it takes to avoid that source or to purify the water before drinking it, and you would want to help provide and maintain other sources of clean water. They would too.
3. Sanitation. Digging pit toilets can end open defecation and disposal of raw human waste in fields, which can reduce water contamination, illness and parasites from these sources. Human and animal wastes can still be used on fields for fertilizer, but only after composting for months or a year to eliminate harmful microbes and worm eggs. Ending open defecation and wearing shoes can end most worm infestations. Composting before using manure has an added bonus because raw or “green” manure can harm plants unless allowed time to decompose. Otherwise it can “burn” plants. NOTE: “green manure” as used here is historical terminology for poorly decomposed or raw manure. Under new terminology, green manure refers to plant material that is composted.
4. Insect and Disease Control. Here again, education is important for understanding measures to prevent mosquito breeding and to protect themselves from bites. DDT and other insecticides offer real hope for reducing or eliminating insect vectored diseases. Bed nets treated with insecticides will reduce bites on sleeping people, but that is only part of the answer. Flies, fleas, lice, ticks and mites also carry many diseases, so elimination of these insects from within the home is important. Diseases and parasites can be cured with medicines and medical facilities, ending the cycle of spreading diseases.
5. Roads. Passable roads are important to break the isolation trap. Many road improvements can be done gradually by villagers if there are enough healthy people and incentive to do the work. Roads are important to be able to get to medical facilities and for access to markets to sell their crops. Roads connected to towns are important to attract industry and investment in rural areas.
6. Electricity. Access to electricity or gas for cooking and heating can reduce indoor air pollution from bio-based cooking fires and facilitate water purification for homes, schools, clinics and hospitals. With electricity, houses can be closed against insect entry by using screens and fans for cooling. With electricity, refrigeration is possible for safe storage of foods. Electrification usually needs input from outside the village to accomplish. Mini and micro loans can be used to build local low capacity hydroelectric dams/waterfalls or diesel power plants and medium to low voltage transmission lines locally. All other short-term solutions listed here can be accomplished very quickly by knowledgeable, healthy, and trained inhabitants. Again, education is the key. Teaching local people how the do these things will go a long way toward raising their standard of living, improving their quality of life, providing a healthy workforce, lowering under-five mortality, providing a healthy workforce and raising life expectancy.
Details, instructions and explanations of each of these solutions can be found in my book Saving Africa From Lies That Kill: How Myths about the Environment and Overpopulation Are Destroying Third World Countries. It is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and similar outlets in print and as eBook. After reading it, share it with others and send a copy to other people that can help implement these measures. Please, also leave a review on Amazon. Your review will help to get a wider exposure for distribution of this important message.
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