I work in international development, and trust me, my colleagues keeping their resumes up to date, because this field is not likely to exist in the long term, at least not in its current form. The last 20 years have seen massive, massive improvements to health , education, stability, gender equality and quality of life. War between states has almost disappeared, and even civil war is on the way out. The Cold War dinosaur dictators are dying off, and democracy is slowly taking hold around the globe. Even famines and droughts, while still deadly, are not as massive as they were even in the 1980s.
I grew up hearing about the starving children in China. My daughter will look back and marvel about how she used to hear about starving kids in Africa. And this change is already underway. I was in Zimbabwe a couple years ago, and was surprised to find fast food joints, ATMs and satellite dishes everywhere. When I arrived in Cameroon in 2006, my village had just got cell phone access. Now, I keep track of goings-on via the Chief’s Facebook page. Just like Brazil and India have transformed from “synonym for desperation” to “dynamic and complex,” much of Africa is poised to make that change.
That’s not to say everything is peachy. Poverty is becoming less a matter country, and more a matter within countries. It’s not entirely going away, as much as becoming more evenly distributed. Natural disasters will increase as we continue to move into more marginal areas, and we will need to respond to those. The needs of those often trampled by development- including indigenous people- will need protecting. And there will be new challenges- climate change, new diseases, and even the effects of wealth: obesity, smoking, etc. But the general trend right now is up.