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Open AccessArticle

Infrastructures as Catalysts: Precipitating Uneven Patterns of Development from Large-Scale Infrastructure Investments

Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, Faculty of Science, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1090 GE, The Netherlands
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1286; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041286
Received: 13 March 2018 / Revised: 13 April 2018 / Accepted: 20 April 2018 / Published: 22 April 2018
While infrastructure investments in developing regions may bring about aggregate benefits, the distribution of those benefits cannot be ignored. The present paper examines such distributional effects based on two illustrations: rural roads in Ethiopia and flood control systems in Bangladesh. In both cases, the infrastructures promote particular development patterns towards market-economic transformations and integration. We liken the introduction of these infrastructures to the addition of a catalyst in a chemical reaction. Rural roads, for example, catalyse existing flows of agricultural labour, while flood control catalyses agricultural productivity. Taking the analogy a step further, the effects of a catalyst are known to vary due to the presence of so-called inhibitors and promoters. Applying this to the two cases, the paper reveals that, among other factors, the ownership (or lack thereof) of modes of transportation in Ethiopia and land resources in Bangladesh represent significant promoters (or inhibitors) that can help to explain the unequal distribution of benefits. This question is by no means new; past technical assistance programmes were already fiercely criticized for exacerbating inequalities. Today, commercial and political interests are again intensifying infrastructural investments in developing regions with profound impacts on local economies and livelihoods. Revisiting the question of distribution is, therefore, as relevant as ever. View Full-Text
Keywords: infrastructure; investment; appropriate technology; inclusive development; catalyst; Bangladesh; Ethiopia infrastructure; investment; appropriate technology; inclusive development; catalyst; Bangladesh; Ethiopia
MDPI and ACS Style

Rammelt, C. Infrastructures as Catalysts: Precipitating Uneven Patterns of Development from Large-Scale Infrastructure Investments. Sustainability 2018, 10, 1286. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041286

AMA Style

Rammelt C. Infrastructures as Catalysts: Precipitating Uneven Patterns of Development from Large-Scale Infrastructure Investments. Sustainability. 2018; 10(4):1286. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041286

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rammelt, Crelis. 2018. "Infrastructures as Catalysts: Precipitating Uneven Patterns of Development from Large-Scale Infrastructure Investments" Sustainability 10, no. 4: 1286. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041286

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Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

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