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Surveys of African Economies

It is the disagreement amongst the advocates of different approaches to problems or solutions which hinders the formation of any consensual strategy and the mobilization of adequate resources. That is why the Encyclopedia uses an approach that is as general and minimally structured as is feasible without losing coherence and utility. The intent is first to contribute to clarify the nature, extent, and interrelationships of problems and solutions. Even the distinction between problems and solutions is not always clear. For instance, housing an increasing number of people is a solution that may aggravate the problem of urban overcrowding, and the death of individuals is a problem that contributes to the solution of reducing ecological impact of overpopulation.[13][14]

The Encyclopedia databases are much about how problems, strategies, values, development concepts, and organizations are linked together. As a result, the possibility of focusing on feedback loops has proven to be an important feature of the Encyclopedia, and a program has been carried out to identify “vicious problem loops“. A vicious problem loop is a chain of problems, each aggravating the next, and with the last looping back to aggravate the first in the chain. Here is an example: Man-made disasters, Vulnerability of ecosystem niches, Natural environment degradation, Shortage of natural resources, Unbridled competition for scarce resources, Man-made disasters. Solutions that focus on only one problem in a chain may fail or even be harmful, because the cycle has the capacity to regenerate itself, and also because several cycles may interlock, forming tangled skeins of interlinked global problems. The loop detection program detected more than 50,000 loops (of up to 9 elements) in more than 12,000 problem profiles. It is thought that a similar work could be done about mutually facilitating or constraining strategy loops, so as to constitute a dynamic response to aggravating or reducing loops of problems through a circle of matching strategies