This module outlines the practice of humanitarian engineering and sustainable development in least developed countries.
Least Developed Countries
Recall SDG #1 is to end worldwide poverty.
It is estimated that in 2018, 783 million people live under 1.90 USD a day. This is halved from 2000 which means that progress has been made.
Least developed countries (LDC) are 47 countries designated by UN where most of the poor people live.
The list of LDCs is reviewed every 3 years. There are three criteria:
- Human assets
- Secondary school enrollment (higher is better)
- Under-nourishment (lower is better)
- Maternal mortality (lower is better)
- Adult literacy (higher is better)
- Under five mortality (lower is better)
- Economic vulnerability
- Population (?)
- Remoteness (lower is better)
- Export concentration (higher is better)
- Victims of natural disasters (lower is better)
- Share of agriculture and fishing in GDP (?)
- Share of population in costal zones (?)
- Instability of exports (lower is better)
- Income per capita
- Income per capita graduation threshold: 1242 USD (2015)
If a country meets 2/3 of these three criterions for 2 reviews, or income per capita is that twice of the threshold for 2 reviews, they will graduate from the list.
LDCs get exclusive access to support, such as:
- Duty-free access to EU market.
- WTO grant different treatment to LDCs
- 0.15-0.2% of donor aids are given to LDCs
- Climate change financing
One organization of humanitarian engineering is Engineering Without Boarders.
Sustainability/humanitarian problems are often unique, a symptom of another problem, and never-ending. These can be called “wicked” problems. We focus on three intellectual frameworks
- Interdisciplinary cooperation/thinking.
- System thinking.
- Iterative thinking.
Ethical considerations are significant in humanitarian work because it’s easy for wealthy people to take advantage of those in need. We focus on four ethics frameworks.
1. Ethics of Care
- There are vulnerable and less-vulnerable people, those who are less vulnerable should help those who are more vulnerable.
- Interdependence not dependence.
- Lack of universal truth; consider contextual details.
2. Non-Maleficence and Beneficence
- Intention to avoid negligence and needless harm; minimize negative impact.
- Actions should promote well-being of others.
- Discourages selfish behavior.
3. Ethical Pluralism
- There are many theories of moral norms (what is right/wrong) which may be incompatible or incommensurable with one’s personal moral norms.
- More equal rights and legal protection for women.
- Promote power sharing, leadership, and collaborative work to establish respect and acceptance for diversity.
It is hard to accept failures. We should embrace and accept failures, and learn from them. Make sure we don’t make sure we don’t make the same failures that other people makes.
Publish failures: EWB publishes a public failure report. This affects funding from donors.
Engineering Projects in LDCs
Assessing for Sustainability
There are the seven questions to sustainability that can help us start assessing the projects. The questions are:
Engagement: Are engagement processes in place and working effectively?
People: Will people’s well-being be maintained or improved?
Environment: Is the integrity of the environment assured over the long term?
Economy: Is the economic viability of the project or operation assured, and will the economy of the community and beyond be better off as a result?
Traditional and Non-Market Activities: Are traditional and non-market activities in the community and surrounding area accounted for in a way that is acceptable to the local people?
Institution Arrangements and Governance: Are rules, incentives, programs, and capacities in place to address consequences?
Synthesis and Continuous Learning: Does a full synthesis show that the net result will be positive or negative in the long term, and will there be periodic reassessments.
Each of the questions involve a hierarchy:
b=>operation: Ideal Answer
- UN describes LDC by 3 criterions:
- Quality of human assets (education, health).
- Economic vulnerability (exports, productivity).
- Income per capita.
- Humanitarian engineering problem requires these 3 intellectual frameworks:
- Iterative thinking.
- Systems thinking.
- Interdisciplinary thinking.
- Humanitarian engineering problems require these 4 ethical frameworks:
- Ethics of care.
- Non-maleficence and beneficence.
- Ethical purism.