The complex rural to urban transitions occurring in Third World suburban communities are creating a sense of social disunity, and contributing to the lack of individual cooperation already present in many urban villages. The rapid influx of "transients" seeking to succeed in the city creates strained relationships with "permanent" residents; and the attendant high population density, combined with the absence of public facilities like a community centre or town square, is also a contributory factor. The spirit of cooperation that existed in rural life is replaced by isolating individualism that works against the progress of the community as well as the well-being of its individual inhabitants. The physical poverty in such communities, where so many compete for so few jobs, so few rooms, and so few school places, further contributes to this disunity.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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