Hans Rosling gives an excellent (and amusing) talk about teaching Swedish undergrads about the "third world." In the process he came up with amazing graphics to show that we are underestimating the monumental changes that are taking place in the world, particularly in the developing world, and that we need to use data more to our advantage. If not anything, he leaves you with a lot of hope.
My biggest takeaways:
1. You can develop faster if you are healthy (eg. Paraguay), rather than wealthy (United Arab Emirates).
2. Improvements have to be highly contextualized; even within a country, community and individual needs are extremely variable. Therefore, you cannot use the same strategies uniformly.
3. The importance of transparency. So much data about the world has been collected, but very little is shared. Making this information or any information in general more publicly accessible will allow more people to work toward a solution collectively ("we are smarter than we").