Developing a paragraph

As you have seen in the previous Step, a paragraph can be developed in different ways.

1. Chronological development

In the example below, an issue is examined in chronological sequence, so the reader can understand how it developed through time.

When countries in sub-Saharan Africa became independent, the state dominated the provision of utilities. However, in the 1980s the debt crisis and the ensuing contraction of budgets prompted a re-appraisal of public sector provision. Donors began lobbying for the restructuring of public services; by the 1990s, they were demanding full-scale privatisation. However, implementation of such reforms has been slow.

2. Support from statistics

Another way to develop a paragraph is to provide statistics as evidence to support the point made in the paragraph leader. Here is an example.

One of the chief reasons: lack of interest from private investors. After an initial surge, the pace of privatisation slowed markedly. Between 1990 and 2003, less than four per cent of global private investment in infrastructure went to sub-Saharan Africa.

3. Further explanation

Sometimes a point needs further explanation. In the example below, the paragraph leader states that “governments have had to re-align their expectations” (i.e. set much less ambitious aims for privatisation). The rest of the paragraph explains how this has been done: no plans for full-scale privatisation at the moment, but instead “short-term management contracts with private firms as an interim measure” - something which is more attractive to private investors.

Thus, many governments have had to re-align their expectations. They now focus on creating the right conditions for private investors, having put full-scale privatisation on the back-burner. This approach also involves resorting to short-term management contracts with private firms as an interim measure.

4. Examples

Examples can also be used to illustrate points in the paragraph leader. In the paragraph below, the World Bank is cited as an example of a donor, and “lending” is given as an example of a type of “spending”. In addition, statistics are used to support the point made in the paragraph leader.

The initial hopes for privatisation were so high that donor spending on infrastructure fell in the expectation that the private sector would take up the slack. For example, World Bank lending for infrastructure investment declined by 50 per cent during 1993-2002, with much of this directed towards preparing firms for privatisation. In 2002, Bank lending for water and sanitation projects, in particular, was only 25 per cent of its annual average during 1993-97.

© Bayliss, K. and McKinley, T. (2007), ‘Privatising Basic Utilities in Sub-Saharan Africa: The MDG Impact’, International Poverty Centre Policy Research Brief no. 3, United Nations Development Programme. Extracts reviewed and reproduced for educational purposes in accordance with UNDP Terms of Use.

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An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study

University of Reading