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close this bookThe Courier N 123 Sept - October 1990 - Dossier Higher Education - Country Reports: Barbados - (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)
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Daniel LEMONNIER and Yves INGENBLEEK - Les carences nutritionnelles dans les pays en dloppement (Nutritional deficiency in developing countries) Editions Karthala & ACCT, 22-24 bvd Arago, 75013 Paris and 13 quad Andritro 75015 Paris 623 pages Bfrs 1088 - 1989.

This contains the main papers read at the 3rd GERM (the Malnutrition Study and Research Group) international scientific session held for the first time in Nianing in Senegal from 4-9 October 1987. It is volume two in a French-language series on achievements and original scientific work on the nutritional problems of the developing world and deficiencies in general and it is aimed at researchers, experts in nutrition, users of research in the field and NGOs concerned with nutritional problems in children. It gives details of various avenues of research, such things as the nutritional state in protein-calorie malnutrition, the latest applications of anthropometry, vitamin A deficiency (ultimately responsible for thousands of cases of blindness in the developing countries), breast-feeding and food consumption. This research, Daniel Lemonnier stresses in the preface, has repercussions on agriculture and the technology of the agri-food industry and cooking on the nutritional value of food. Experts in nutrition also have to take account of social science, training and extension work. This is a thorough piece of work which is destined to be increasingly useful in the future. Alain LACROIX

Sub-Saharan Africa: from crisis to sustainable growth - World Bank, Washington D.C. - November 1989.

This 300-page study of sub-Saharan Africa by a team of experts drawn not only from World Bank staff but from African intellectuals and political scientists is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is not prescriptive; it does not lay down a single best way of doing things. Secondly, it transcends economics; it devotes considerable space to sociological and political matters. And thirdly, it places the blame for Africa’s disastrous record on the shoulders of both donors and recipients. This is not a case where exogenous factors, colonial heritage, the inequities of the global economic order, the weather, and so on, are brought out to excuse failure. The main cause of failure is identified as the lack of an ‘enabling environment’, an environment that encourages farmers to produce, marketers to market, entrepreneurs to make and sell and, above all, local investors to invest locally.

The World Bank seems to have taken very much to heart the strictures on first-generation structural adjustment programmes. The new-generation programmes, the book states, will have to consist of three complementary components: a policy component which will have to combine macroeconomic restructuring with the launching of core social expenditure programmes; programme and project components designed for specific sectors and concentrating on community-level activities, small-scale income generation and local social infrastructure; and an institutional and development component to strengthen governments’ capacities to plan, implement and analyse the necessary programmes.

The emphasis is on investment in people: not only at the top, but especially, perhaps in what the book calls the ‘missing middle’ which occupies a significant part of the preoccupations of the authors. Africa has more cars per capita than South Korea, not because of its wealth, but because of the poverty of the people and the poor infrastructure. Animals are too expensive, bicycles too fragile. Thus from walking, the African graduates to driving. The same is true of agriculture and industry: “When farmers modernise, they switch from the hoe to a tractor”. Training, investment in people, encouragement to save, are all part of the prescription.

On the whole this is a less gloomy analysis than one might expect. Increases in investment of 4-5 % would lead to surpluses, and keep abreast of population growth (a serious subject sensitively tackled here). A call is made to the donor community for more and better-coordinated assistance (and fewer expatriate advisers) but the main call is to African governments to review their priorities and policies, with a view to getting sustained and sustainable development.