|The Courier N° 136 - Nov-Dec 1992 - Dossier Humanitarian Aid - Country Reports: Soa Tomé- Principe- Senegal (EC Courier, 1992, 96 p.)|
AFRICA-CARIBBEAN-PACIFIC - EUROPEAN COMMUNITY
MEETING POINT: Peter Pooley and Santiago Gomez-Reino
The European Community contributes ever growing quantities of humanitarian aid to countries in need. But until this year, no single body was responsible for coordinating or publicising the aid. Now the Commission has set up the European Community Humanitarian Office, known by its striking initials ECHO. ECHO's first acting Director, Peter Pooley, launched the Office, and its newly appointed Director Santiago Gomez-Reino has now taken the helm. They talk about ECHO's work and the EC's humanitarian aid.
SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE: An ex-Portuguese colony off the Gulf of Guinea, Sao Tomnd Principe consists of two of the most beautiful islands in the world where the natural vegetation - still largely intact - is particularly luxuriant. The country derives 90% of its revenue from a single product, cocoa, but this has been declining for the past 20 years. Finding alternatives to this monoculture is, therefore, a priority.
SENEGAL: A country with a fascinating culture and people, Senegal is currently at a crucial phase in its economic and political history. Largely dependent on external aid, the Senegalese economy is suffering in the international crisis. As for its democratic system, which has existed for 20 years, this needs to find a 'second wind' if it is to retain its distinctive place and not be left behind by the new democracies which are - albeit with difficulty-springing up on the continent.
DOSSIER: Humanitarian aid
In many parts of the world, 1992 has seen a sharp increase in the suffering and disorder caused by natural disasters like famine, flooding and drought and man-made catastrophes like civil war and invasion. As whole populations are starving or being displaced, aid donors, including the EC, are having to think seriously about their response. This dossier reports on where humanitarian aid is going and considers the underlying questions.
1992 has been a turbulent year for the European Community, as it prepares itself for the advent of the single internal market and strives to find a path towards further European integration on which all its members can agree. But, for upheaval and human distress, events in the Community pale into insignificance beside the chronicle of disasters which other parts of the world have had to face this year. The special Dossier in this issue of The Courier sets out some of the story and describes what is being done to try to help.
The Community's response to the suffering of the victims goes further, of course, than just words. For more than 20 years now the EC has been providing increasing amounts hof humanitarian aid to countries in need, and recently the Commission began coordinating joint humanitarian relief efforts with the Community's Member States. And this year the Commission set up the European Community Humanitarian Office to streamline the EC 'c own humanitarian aid work.
From its foundation in April till the end of September, the acting Director of ECHO was the Commission's Deputy Director-Generalfor Development, Peter Pooley. He was succeeded as Director in October by Santiago Gomez-Reino, hitherto the Commission's Delegate in Zimbabwe. Both talked to The Courier about the Community's approach to humanitarian aid and about the work of the new Office.
· The setting up of ECHO marks a new departure in the European Community's humanitarian aid work. Why has the Commission decided to adopt this new approach ?
- The reasons why ECHO has been set up are, I think, very clear. It is there to improve the Community's emergency humanitarian relief system in terms of both quality and quantity, while at the same time making the public more aware of what the European Community is doing in that field. The Commission's objective was to make the twelve-member Community, and hence the international community, better able to respond to exceptional circumstances. Obviously the Commission's decision also makes for better international coordination between the European Community States on the one hand and, in particular, the United Nations specialised agencies on the other. So there are two aspects to the Commission's decision: improving organisation and rationalising Community resources in the field of emergency humanitarian relief, and an external aspect involving improving worldwide coordination in that field.
· In practical terms, what will your Office be doing to make the Community's humanitarian aid operations more effective ?
There are four factors in the decision setting up the Office which will make the Community's humanitarian relief work more effective:
- the decision to give a single department administrative
responsibility for all operations
- the increase in the Community's capacity for direct intervention i
- the improvement in coordination between Member States, NGOs and the specialised international agencies
- the fact that it will be easier to mobilise the requisite budgetary resources in the event of a major crisis.
· And more visible?
- Yes, I do think we should not only be acting and responding to urgent needs but also making sure that people know what the European Community is doing in difficult situations. That means that ECHO will have to take steps to explain what it is doing and supply information. But as you can see, the very fact of setting up ECHO and of its being there will mean that the increasing part the European Community is playing in the humanitarian relief field can be made more obvious and more tangible.
As Director of ECHO I will be very sensitive to the need to explain what we are doing, as I have found out from my recent experience in Africa that the general public sometimes, or indeed often, do not know what their countries are getting from the European Community.
· Is ECHO just a coordinating body, or is it taking on new responsibilities and moving into new areas?
- ECHO is absolutely not just setting out to be a coordinating body. To begin with, the Office will have the capacity to carry out humanitarian relief operations where emergency management is needed. At a later stage, it will be able to launch its own pilot projects in direct intervention.
· ECHO has been up and running since April this year. What has it been doing so far?
- The effort put in by the Commission officials responsible for planning ECHO and bringing it to life deserves the highest praise. All of them are Commission officials who are highly devoted and committed to their work. I will now be working alongside them, a fact of which I am very proud. I will be slotting myself into a team which has already done a great deal of work. As I sit here m Harare answering your questions, I can assure you that I wish I were already back in Brussels with the team. I should also like to pay tribute to Peter Pooley, who as we speak is still my Deputy Director-General and also a friend, for the work he has put into making the establishment of ECHO a success.
· What are the main problems it faces ?
- I do not think the problems we will have to face will come from within ECHO or the rest of the Community structure. Those problems, I regret to say, will come from outside and will arrive on our doorstep without any advance notice.
ECHO, in other words, will have to work flat out to organise itself as quickly as possible so that It can cope to the best of its ability, with the hazards of nature and human recklessness.
· The name ECHO suggests a rapid response. How fast can you mobilise your resources and deliver help where it is needed ?
- I wish I could say: 'In two minutes!' But the real answer is this - watch us and pass judgment on us in a few months, because ECHO, and therefore the European Community, will obviously be judged on the basis of how swiftly we act and how effective we are, as I am well aware.
· As the Commission's Delegate in Zimbabwe you will have seen for yourself the effects of the exceptionally severe drought in Southern Africa. Does ECHO have anything new to offer by way of help in that kind of emergency ?
- By the terms of the Commission decision, ECHO is competent to act in the area of emergency food aid. With the backing of its experience in combating large-scale famine, the Commission through ECHO and the other departments involved, will do its best to make the instruments it sets up in emergency situations of that kind even more effective and appropriate.
· The demand for humanitarian assistance has grown considerably over the last three years, especially in Africa. Do you think that trend will continue? If so, will your Office be able to keep providing help at present levels?
- I am more or less certain, unfortunately, that the demand for humanitarian assistance and relief will go on growing, firstly because international disasters are not going to be stopped in their tracks by the 'threat' of intervention by ECHO and secondly because mankind has not learned the lessons of the past. Nor does the instability which reigns throughout the world at the moment make one excessively optimistic.
· Does the Community have to set any priorities when deciding who is to receive humanitarian relief? Are there, in other words, particular parts of the world, or types of situations, which automatically receive help before others?
- I firmly believe that the world's misfortunes cannot be classified on a scale of priorities according to where they occur or what particular type of situation is involved.
That does not automatically mean that we will be able to step in everywhere. I wish we could, but I am also aware of the limits on what we can do.
· Does the Community impose any conditions on the recipient countries?
- Actually I think ECHO means the very opposite of what is implied by the word 'conditions'. Can one really impose prior conditions on people who are destitute suffering and m despair? No, I do not think we can.
· Will there be any change in the Community's relations with its partners in the international humanitarian aid community - both donors and operators ?
- Yes, there will be a major change, in the sense that one of ECHO's priorities will be making qualitative and quantitative improvements in our fraternal relations with the other private or public bodies and organisations fighting to alleviate human distress.
· What are your plans for ECHO's future ?
- The plans are very clear. For me, together with my colleagues in ECHO, it will mean meeting the targets set for us by the Commission. That's easier said than done. But those are the kind of responsibilities I like!
Interview by Robert ROWE
· As from April 1st ECHO is responsible for emergency aid to all countries in the world outside the Community. Might this not tend to divert resources away from the poorest, especially in Africa, towards countries which have more powerful lobbies or which are simply nearer to the Community ?
- I don't think so. It is quite remarkable how so far we have over the last three years increased our expenditure on emergencies by an order of magnitude. It has moved from ECU 25-35 million a year to 250-350 million a year and we have done that without touching on development money. I think this is an extremely important principle, that the emergency work should be done outside the regular development funds or development budget. And you speak of lobbies for aid. The biggest lobby is not in the countries themselves, it comes from within the Member States, and the most pressing lobby for an increase in humanitarian aid is always the tax payer and the television-viewer. Europeans can now see, the same day, pictures of horrific happenings and it is they who, through their political representatives, demand, insist that the European Community does something about it. The only danger I foresee is that one could have the possibility of 'fashionable disasters' and ones that are not so 'fashionable': 'fashionable disasters' that the press find interesting, they find accessible for their camera teams and so on and you get tremendous pressure to help out in a country which happens to be in the headlines at the moment, while everybody ignores the fact that half a continent away there is a country in even worse difficulties but it doesn't have any press people there. That is really the worry about a non-objective allocation of resources.
· What sort of machinery do you have for finding out what kind of aid the recipient countries actually need or want ?
- Well, of course, we have our Delegates now all over the world with their Delegations who keep a constant watch on the progress of food supplies if it is a question of famine, or civil strife, if it's a man-made disaster. They are also quickly on the spot if there is an earthquake or floods, whatever the emergency may be. But beyond that, of course, we have the United Nations agencies and there is a constant pooling of information that goes on to ensure that the donor community is very well informed of the need, that the governments themselves approach us from time to time when they have problems they think we can help them with and, at the end of the day, of course, all donors rely upon the close cooperation of the local authorities in order to be able to work effectively, if there are local authorities. The really, really difficult problems are if there has been a total breakdown of order, as in Somalia.
· What do you do in situations like that? Do you think that the donor community has a right of intervention in certain countries where either the authorities have not asked for help or there are no authorities to ask ?
- In a limited sense, yes, in all our work, whether it is development or emergency aid, we have as our target populations, not states, and we do feel that where a population is at risk and there is no state, we can intervene. Where a population is at risk and the state won't let us intervene, that is another matter, and that is a very difficult problem that we face a little in the Sudan, where we want to help people but for one reason or another the local authorities are not ready to cooperate in helping us do so. We do like, in circumstances where we are likely to be accused of interference, to act under the United Nations banner, rather than just as the European Community. If that world body is ready to interfere, we are ready to back them with our money and our expertise.
· How far are you prepared to back them, I mean will you go to the extent of supporting the types of military protection that are being providedfor aid deliveries at the moment ?
- Well, the situation in Yugoslavia and Somalia does demand protection of our efforts of one sort or another and also in terms of the exercise 'safe haven' which we carried out with the Kurds. We have from time to time been ready to help Member States pay for their military logistics and so on and we may need to go further in the future and into that field. There is a difficult question of judgment here and the great word 'subsidiarily' does keep on cropping up. So far this is not an area where we have had any dispute with Member States over who does what, but one does have to look at the issues very carefully.
· Loolcing at the question of the possible economic effects of humanitarian aid, do donors always give enough consideration to the fact that the type of aid sent to a country or the time when it arrives may disrupt that country's economy - if for example, you send wheat to a country where maize is the staple food, or if the food aid arrives exactly in time with the harvest, the previous harvest havinglailed, and so ruins the farmers in the country?
- Well this is a very important point and one where we have gathered a great deal of experience in the Commission through our normal food aid operations, which go on year by year and are vastly larger than the emergency operations. Feeding a structural deficit in the country's food supplies through food aid is these days always carefully organised, not only to avoid undermining local markets or changing local tastes, but also to ensure that it contributes to the long-term development of food security in that country, rather than makes them more and more dependent upon aid. For instance, our wheat, or maize, or rice - if rice is what is eaten - goes to these countries free of charge but is then sold on the market and the money thus created is used by a contract we have with the government to prop up or develop their own agriculture and their own production, so that little by little the food aid can, through the funds it creates, contribute to food security and to there being no further need for aid, except in a disaster like a famine. When there is a famine it is by definition difficult to undermine the local market in any real sense, because either there is nothing at all on the market or it is on the market at a very, very high price indeed and the aim there might be to bring down the market price to a level which people can afford. In doing that you do not upset the local agriculture and local commerce.
· Are there ever situations where you feel that the Community's humanitarian aid is at risk of merely relieving a government of the obligation to feed and house its own citizens?
- Very rarely. It is a point we always insist upon, that Community emergency aid is there as a contribution to the major effort that needs to be made by the State concerned. For instance, even in the very disturbed situation in Yugoslavia, we and other members of the donor community insist that for any operation 50% at least of the cost and the effort is done by the local authorities and we come in with the rest to top it up. It is a very important point not to 'deresponsibilise' the governments concerned and not let anybody feel that if they have a war, or a famine, or a disaster of some sort the answer is simply to throw in your hands and say: 'Let the donor community look after it.'
· You know of course that the Lomonvention attaches various conditions concerning respect for democracy and human rights to development aid. Are such conditions attached to humanitarian aid ?
- Humanitarian aid is totally unconditional in that sense: there is no condition in terms of politics, in terms of religion, of race, of age, or sex or anything and this is an extremely important principle, that we are spending Community taxpayers' money in an act of solidarity with people, with human beings, to save life and assure the minimum conditions of survival, and it does not matter whether the people concerned are politically opposed to us or even politically unpleasant, they are human beings and it is humanitarian aid.
· But isn't it possible that, without naming countries, you might find that humanitarian aid is perpetuating civil war because the food is diverted and sold in exchange for weapons ?
- That has happened. It is a risk one constantly takes. We tried very hard to control the flow of aid and a major part of the exercise, a difficult one, is to ensure that the aid reaches what we call the target populations and doesn't get diverted on the way, it doesn't get lost on the way, or doesn't moulder in the store, that is what the exercise is all about. But every now and then we have run into difficulty and perhaps we have knowingly taken a risk that a small part of the aid might be diverted but, if 95% of it arrives in the hands of the people who need it, that might be regarded in some circumstances as good enough and certainly better than stopping sending the aid altogether.
· Do you conduct any post factum assessment of how useful humanitarian aid has been ?
- Yes, of course, we are always conscious that we are spending other people's money and we need to make sure that it is spent correctly and that it is spent wisely. We not only submit the accounts of those who carry out the aid for us, the usual post factum scrutiny that applies to anything you or I spend as civil servants. But we also carry out post factum evaluations of effectiveness. It is very difficult to do concurrent evaluations, it is very difficult to have officials looking over the shoulders of the operators while they are actually in the field. But even there we are hopeful that by the modern technique of the integrated approach and the logical framework - sorry about the jargon - we shall be able to set objectives at the start of the operation in rather a flexible way and be able to check as we go along whether those objectives are being met and whether indeed they need to be changed. There are possibilities there for value-for-money evaluation as we go along with the exercise rather than waiting for the end.
· You know there has been a lot of criticism of what is seen as the extreme slowness with which the Community often reacts to emergency situations. Will the setting up of ECHO speed up the procedure ?
- I am sure it will. ECHO is endowed with very speedy procedures which cut a lot of corners, but already the situation is much better than the public are led to believe and the improvement can only be marginal. Already in terms of a sudden emergency, we have over the past few years been able very often to hear about the disaster on the morning news, find a partner during the course of the morning, have a financing agreement by lunchtime and the planes leave that night: very speedy indeed! For longer-term disasters, like famine, although it takes two months for the extra food to reach the country concerned, we normally have a standing regular food aid programme and we are able, while waiting for that food to arrive, to accelerate the regular programme and keep the pipeline full while awaiting the arrival of the emergency programme. In Africa last year, this process of keeping the pipeline full, not over-full, and not empty, worked extremely well and so far, with an even vaster and more difficult famine in Africa this year, it has also gone very well. So, although it can take us quite a time to mobilise our effort, nevertheless, with careful planning and with cooperation with other donors, we are able to keep that pipeline full and that is what counts.
· With natural disasters that recur, cyclones or droughts, in certain parts of the world, is there a case for something we might call structural humanitarian aid where the Community or the international donor community finances, for example, cyclone shelters in Bangladesh, which are of no use at the time when they are put in but which will become vital when the disaster strikes ?
- Yes, of course. There is a case for that and we do some of it already - and the Community has financed cyclone shelters, specifically in Bangladesh. But these repetitive disasters are fewer and farther between than you might think: an island may suffer a cyclone two years running but then not for another 50 years. Earthquakes are extremely unpredictable, so the scope for advance preparation of that sort is rather limited. On the other hand, in the general area of disaster-preparedness the Community has not in the past had the resources to engage in any meaningful disaster-preparedness exercises and we hope that with the creation of ECHO, as we stock it up with staff, we will have some capacity for classical disaster-preparedness.
· How are you going to find staff with the expertise to help out with relief operations more actively than the Community has done in the past ?
- Well, we have a small core of people, largely from DG VIII and DG VIII's former emergencies unit, who have a good deal of expertise and the necessary contacts. We are not, in recruiting, insisting on expertise in emergencies, which is rather rare, but everyone who joins does undergo a suitable training period either with the operational team within ECHO, or to learn about food aid with the Food Aid Division of DG VIII. What is much more important than expertise is lively and flexible people prepared to work very hard and to work very fast and to take risks and, above all, to work in a team. We work sometimes under very distressing and difficult conditions, everyone must pull their weight, everyone must get on with everybody else, and my objective in recruiting for ECHO has been to find such a team, a balanced team, not all young people, not all old people, not all of one nationality or language, because we need that spread for all sorts of reasons, not even one style of qualification, not even one style of personality, but a rich mix of people with high motivation and a high degree of flexibility and capable of good team work - those are the requirements.
· You have talked about the European Community giving humanitarian aid out of a sense of solidarity with the recipient countries and in response to pressure from public opinion in the Member States, but does the Community gain anything in terms of self-interest from this kind of aid ?
- Well, I think we all do. I am one of those who believe that every man's death or loss diminishes me as well and, in economic terms, I believe that if you make a man poorer or richer anywere in the world then, in some small way, you impoverish or enrich yourself. In terms of the Community as an institution, of course, it does help the visibility of the Community in the public mind if we are seen to be engaging in this sort of activity, and all our public opinion soundings show that the population of the Community do believe that this sort of exercise is one which the Community ought to be carrying out, perhaps not exclusively, but when they see a disaster on the television, or a civil war, they say to themselves: 'What is the Community doing about it ?' So, in teens of the image of the Community, inside the Community and in the world, I do think that this very large effort we are now putting out is helpful.
Interview by Robert ROWE
ECHO, the European Community Humanitarian Office, was created in April this year and has been fully operational since September, with a staff of 35 officials. Three EC Commissioners are jointly responsible for the Office, which is at present being administered under the authority of Manuel Mann, Commissioner for Cooperation and Development.
ECHO's basic task is to make the Community's relief operations more effective, and its responsibilities include traditional emergency aid, emergency food aid and humanitarian assistance for refugees. It offers its help to all countries outside the Community (whether in the developing world, in Central and Eastern Europe or elsewhere) where natural disasters or unusual occurrences have caused hardship and where the situation calls for a rapid response.
At a later stage the Office expects to play a more operational role, taking over the running of certain stages of some operations during a trial period.
According to Commission official Gunther Manthey, who is assistant to the Director of ECHO, it was the Kurdish crisis in 1991 which brought to light both the strengths and the weaknesses of the Community's emergency aid system.
One of the major problems in all such crises was the number of different departments responsible for emergency humanitarian aid, in other words emergency relief, emergency food aid, (emergency) humanitarian aid under the PHARE programme for central and eastern Europe and emergency food aid under the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund - especially as each of these administrative departments had a different attitude and approach.
Now that a single department has been set up, the expertise needed for dealing with crisis situations anywhere in the world is all to be found under one administrative roof
It will also mean more effective cooperation with the Member States and the partners with which the Commission works in the field - the nongovernmental organisations, the Red Cross and the United Nations agencies. These bodies have in fact too often tended to see the Commission just as a supplier of funds and not as a genuine partner. Improvements on the existing working arrangements could also include outline agreements on combined operations with Member States and, possibly, a financial reserve to provide for major emergencies.
Another factor is that the Commission has sometimes found itself having to deal with organisations which did not have sufficient capacity to carry out decisions taken in Brussels. As the Kurdish crisis showed, Community relief went into action very swiftly but soon reached a stage where it could get no further without direct methods of intervention, particularly the use of operational forces from the Member States. So one of ECHO's tasks is to start establishing its own operational resources. The point of doing this is not for ECHO to take over the work of its partners but to plug the existing gaps.
Another weakness in the old structure was the lack of visibility when it came to EC operations, since it is in the Community's interest to let people in the Member States and non-Community countries see what it is doing in the realm of humanitarian relief: Now that ECHO exists, it will certainly make for greater visibility, though that is not, of course, an end in itself: the principal objective is to make sure that Community action (meaning that of the Commission and the 12 Member States) is even more effective.
Another reason for setting up ECHO is to make it easier to mobilise the requisite funds whenever a serious crisis occurs. In the past, budgeted sums were often not enough to cover the cost of all the operations involved, and money had to be borrowed from other budget headings, with all the difficulties and drawbacks which that entails. To give an idea of the amounts involved, in 1991 the Commission's Emergency Aid Unit alone administered nearly ECU 190 million, or more than 21% of the total funds allocated for emergency humanitarian aid by the Community and its Member States.
ECHO's tasks and responsibilities, then, are much wider than those that used to face the old Emergency Aid Unit. In fact the first of the new units to go into operation was ECHO/1, which deals with emergency aid for people in non-Community countries, followed by ECHO/2, responsible for emergency food aid to non-Community countries, and ECHO/3, which handles general affairs: prevention, relief mobilisation and information. Recruiting 35 officials capable of rising to the new challenge has been a major task and the qualities looked for have been otivation to work on humanitarian issues, team spirit, initiative and adaptability.
Much manuvang in Luxembourg:
The 15th session will go down in the history of the Joint Assembly, some said, as the meeting began, and they did not know how right they were, although it was ultimately for reasons they could not have foreseen. Democracy and human rights were indeed dealt with frankly and openly - some speakers going so far as to admit that a discussion of this sort would have been out of the question only a few years ago - and AIDS, one of the big issues of the close of the century, was on the agenda, with a resolution to boost the arsenal of weapons lined up against this terrible epidemic. These two things alone would have made the meeting unforgettable, but this latest Joint Assembly will be remembered for a quite different reason: that, for the very first time, a general rapporteur decided to withdraw his resolution. After the voting of a hundred or so amendments which comprehensively changed his original draft, Mr Pons Grau - for it was he - first called for the meeting to be suspended to allow all the European members to consult among themselves and then announced that, as the text as it stood could not be accepted by the European side, he was withdrawing it to avoid having to vote against it. However, he did add that he would use it as a working document in seeking the compromise resolution which he would be putting before the next meeting of the Joint Assembly in Gaborone, Botswana, on 22-26 March next year.
'Those who hoped to see the text referred to the next meeting have got what they wanted' was the clearly disgruntled Mr Pons Grau's parting shot. Yet he had been tireless in trying to head off this development. ACP guns had been lined up on the draft resolution from the start and rumours about the vote being put off, or a separate vote (which would inevitably have led to it being thrown out), began to run round the Luxembourg chamber. But the situation did not seem irretrievable at this stage and, with hard bargaining in the wings to reconcile differing points of view, Mr Pons Grau was fairly sanguine when the voting started, believing that compromises had been reached on all the bones of contention. But they had not, as he was soon to, realise. Compromises had indeed been struck by ACP negotiators Adrien Houngbedji, the President of Benin's National Assembly, and Marcel Ibinga-Magwangu, Gabon's Ambassador to the EEC, but, as Senegalese Ambassador Falilou Kane made clear, this was on an ad referendum basis, which meant that, for the ACPs, it was then a case of take it or leave it. This was something which had obviously not been made clear to the general rapporteur - hence his surprise at the maintaining of some of the amendments on which he thought agreement had been reached.
There were two types of article in the resolution which provoked ACP anger - those setting out new conditions on the implementation of the Convention (especially the criteria for respecting human rights in the different projects and referring to the level of military spending) and those involving terminating or at least revising the current Convention to integrate it into the Community's new, more worldwide, development policy. It was the well-known Articles 81 and 83 which were at issue here. The report said that the majority of treaties and agreements which the Community and other countries and international organisations had signed with the developing countries, particularly in the ACP Group, were set up before the Eastern European rmes collapsed, so the changes in post-Maastricht Europe and the world affected countries other than the contracting parties. This meant that the treaties and agreements in question needed to be revised or assessed. The preferential links provided for in Lomad done little for trade, it said, and the Community should therefore devise a new development cooperation model which treated Lomountries and other countries consistently and led to an overhaul of the machinery, instruments and procedures involved in all the agreements and all the different Community policies.
The ACPs will not hear of renegotiating LomV before its time is up. As Ambassador Kane put it, they have no wish to commit 'hare kiri'. The convention, they point out, lasts for ten years and has five-year protocols and they want to stick to the letter of the agreement signed in 1989 and ratified both by them and the Member States since. By a strange quirk of fate, they are now clinging to the ten-year term which they all but threw out three years ago when some of them hesitated to commit themselves for such a long time... and they could in fact have signed for an indeterminate period.
Although the voting on the Pons Grau rsolution was not without acrimony, the debate-on the report was harmony itself. As Maria Luisa Cassanmagnagoretti Co-President of the Joint Assembly, was pleased to tell a press conferee, not one ACP or EEC speaker had come down against the report on democracy, human rights and development in the ACP countries. Quite the contrary, in fact. All those who spoke in the debate which followed the presentation of the paper - and there were nearly 30 of them - had nothing but praise for it.
Yet there were some fairly harsh passages on the absence of democracy in the developing countries, the corruption of their leaders and the level of their military spending - a situation which calls for democratic intervention, as no-one really would deny any longer. And if further proof of the consensus on human rights were needed, it was there in the insistence with which some countries told the Assembly of their progress along the road to democracy and pluralist elections. Delegates from Sudan, Togo, Zaire, Burundi and Ethiopia in turn recounted their transition to democracy, new democracies - Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania, often represented at the highest level by their Parliamentary Presidents - proudly recorded successful transitions and the Kenyan delegate pleaded for every country to be allowed to move towards democracy at its own pace.
Measures positive and negative
It was clear to us all that human rights are now at the very heart of ACP-EEC relations, as Development and Fisheries Commissioner Manud Marin pointed out. European public opinion, he added, was very alert to any violation of these rights and the Community was running three broad types of schemes to:
1) strengthen the State of law;
2) support the democratic transition process;
3) strengthen civil society.
An ECU 6 million line of credit, for example, had enabled the Commission to help with elections, particularly in Angola, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Ghana. Mr Marin emphasised the help he had received from the many ACPs which had agreed to use part of their indicative programmes to finance the move to democracy, something which would have been seen as unacceptable interference only a short time ago. He regretted that what he called negative measures - in the shape of threats to stop or suspend Community aid - had nonetheless been unavoidable in rtain cases of serious violation of human rights. This Community action had sometimes halted the violation in its tracks and sometimes enabled the democratic pross to get under way again.
In conclusion, Mr Marin said that the disappearance of the old structures and the absence of any new and valid points of reference were creating tensions everywhere and making the quest for a new world order very difficult. He believed that human rights, democracy and development should be a driving force rather than a bone of contention.
Top priority to AIDS
The second report, Mrs J. Rwabyomere's paper on AIDS, was the subject of an even stronger consensus than the Pons Grau report. The only problem was how much money was available. The report, which had taken 18 months to produce, drew on the results of all the AIDS conferences held in Florence and Dakar and Amsterdam and Brazzaville between June 1991 and September 1992 and looked at the development of the pandemic, methods of transmission, behaviour, risk factors and economic and social consequences in the ACP countries. Obvious progress had been made in our understanding of the disease, Mrs Rwabyomere said, but it was deplorable that there was still no cure in view. Prevention was the only weapon.
Simone Veil, who chaired this working party, said she had never come across a problem of such magnitude in all her 13 years with the European Parliament. AIDS created a special situation, and urgent and specific means were needed to deal with it, she said, because there were not just the victims to take care of, but prevention campaigns to run and the effects of the disease on the economies to tackle as well. She thought that the current plans of the WHO or the EEC (ECU 50 million from the EDF) were inadequate to cope with a disease which had already claimed the parents of a million children in Africa - where there would be ten million orphans and 40 million HIV-positive by the end of the century. What was needed, she maintained, was a political commitment in the form of a specific priority, involving the release of special funds from outside the Convention and the creation of special structures and procedures. She regretted that the Commission was planning to take the money to control AIDS from the already sadly inadequate funds earmarked for public health.
Peter Pooley, Deputy Director-General at the EC Commission, assured the meeting that the AIDS campaign would get all the money it needed. 'It will cost what it costs,' was how he put it, and it would not be to the detriment of other programmes either, as Manuel Marin had made clear at question time the evening before. ECU 50 million had indeed been set aside for the AIDS control campaign for the moment, but that was by no means the limit. Mr Pooley believed that the AIDS campaign had now entered a new phase in which it was important to look at the horizontal dimension of the epidemic.
This was why the special budgets and the task forces had to be dropped and an integrated campaign had to take over. Any development programme has to reckon with AIDS, he said, which is why 'we propose using Lomunds'.
In the resolution, confortably adopted with only one or two amendments, the Joint Assembly said it was essential to deal with this subject at all levels of the education system and to provide sex education combined with AIDS information to make the younger generations aware of the dangers of high-risk behaviour. It called for absolute priority to go to the search for ways of helping children with HlV-positive mothers and the many AIDS orphans and children in the streets. It also called on the ACP States to try to spend more of their budgets on health and social services, because of the HIV-AIDS epidemic, and to introduce laws to prevent HIV and AIDS victims from being discriminated against and ostracised.
The tragedy of Somalia
There was little change in the tone of the speeches when the meeting moved on to the debate on the situation in Somalia. The register, ranging from tragedy to abject horror, was the same. Three hours earlier, Baroness Chalker, Co-President of the ACP-EEC Council of Ministers, had described what she had seen in Somalia, as a prelude to the discussions. This is what she said.
'Two weeks ago I visited Somalia with my Troika colleagues. It was a deeply soberisg experience. We visited Hoddur, the northernmost tip of the Baddoa-Barbera-Hoddur famine triangle. It had been completely destroyed; not a single building remined intact. All supplies were virtually cut off; and there appeared to be little will or effort to remedy the situation. We saw thousands of children - mostly orphans - herded together in feeding centres. In Mogadishu the only commodity of which there was an abundance was weaponry, especially in the southern part of the town. On every corner there were vehicles crowded with youngsters aged 10-14 carrying the most extraordinary assortment of arms, guns and large quantities of live ammunition. Few men or even children were unarmed The problems in Somalia are not confined to Somalia. We saw the refugee situation at first hand in Mandera in northeastern Kenya. Thousands of refugees were crowded together in a camp with few facilities and little shelter. Conditions win worsen when the rainy season starts in a month's time.'
It is no exaggeration to say that the situation in Somalia weighed heavy on the 15th meeting from beginning to end. It was brought up in the very first speech to the Assembly, by Egon Klepsch, the President of the European Parliament, who said that the tragedy of Somalia was at the very forefront of his concern. Then it was Erskine Simmons, ACP Co-President of the Joint Assembly, who drew everybody's attention to Somalia, not just because of the civil war and the famine that came in its wake, but because of the attempts which some European firms had made to store toxic waste there. Dacia Valent, an Italian Euro-MP of Somalian origin, urged the Joint Assembly, which is a political institution, to display its political will to put an end to the war in Somalia. The EEC Co-President, Mrs Cassanmagago-Cerretti, took up this theme. Emergency food aid was of course vital, she said, but the important thing was to stop the fighting by sending out an Assembly mission, with the assistance of the Commission, to meet the different protagonists and get them round the negotiating table.
Mr Marville, Barbadian Ambassador to the EEC, first wondered how the Assembly went about helping a member in deadly danger and then criticised the fact that Somalia's indicative programme resources had to be used to finance the 500-strong Belgian UN peace-keeping force when the money would have come in very useful with rehabilitation of the devastated economy afterwards.
Manuel Marin assured the meeting that the Commission would be using every means available to work to find a solution to Somalia's suffering through the UN's 100-day plan. He explained that it could use budget monies to pay for protection for humanitarian convoys and run part of the programme in Kenya, where thousands of Somalis had taken refuge.
A worldwide approach
The 15th session ended with voting on 30 or so individual resolutions reflecting the Convention partners' concern on a variety of subjects - the situation in southern Africa, in Haiti, in Ethiopia, in Angola, in Zaire and in Mozambique, the price of coffee and of sugar and of cocoa and desertification and famine.
For many, the Luxembourg mting was a turning point. Matters as delicate as corruption, the ACP leaders filling their own pockets, were tackled frankly (in the Pons Grau report), in the belief that these funds should be blocked and arrangements made to hand them back to the democratically elected authorities of the countries in question. There were no longer any taboo subjects in an increasingly 'parliamentary' Joint Assembly and this was clear for all to see. There was not even a protest, or a sign of one, when Barbara Simons asked Ministers and Ambassadors, who have their own places of discussion, to refrain from attending Assembly mtings in future.
Another sign of the times was the fact that, with what is now a more international approach to cooperation, the session was open to other people too. Antoine Bianca, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, addressed the Assembly, for example, as did Nicolas Bwakira, representing the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Emmanuel Gasana, OAU representative to the EEC, and Mr Kato, Japanese Ambassador to Benelux, who described his country's development aid. The Assembly was supposed to have heard an American delegate too, but he was unable to make the trip to Luxembourg.
Will these new trends be confirmed at the next session in Gaborone on 22-26 March?
Who has not seen or heard of well-documented analyses of the non-viability of African countries, the precariousness of their economies propped up by one or two raw materials, their tiny, split-up markets and the very poor standard of their labour forces? Sao Tomamp; Principe, a former Portuguese colony off the Gulf of Guinea, which has every one of those handicaps, is virtually a caricature of these pictures.
This little country - 964 km² in area, with a population of 120 000 - gets 90% of its revenue from just one export product, cocoa, which brought in $5.5 million last year to set off against imports of $24.5 million. So its increasingly heavy debt, relatively speaking one of the heaviest in the world, comes as no surprise. By the end of 1991, it owed $215 million, $83 million of it in arrears, which was four times its gross national product and more than 20 times the value of its exports. Without any writing-off or rescheduling, the servicing of this debt alone will account for 90% of export revenue this year. Economists, as we all know, tend to cry disaster when repayments reach 20% of exports, so what would they say to this? And Sao Tomamp; Principe has been running a structural adjustment programme since 1987!
After the main funders' mid-July Geneva meeting, the third of its kind, the country now has to negotiate the easing of its debt and new financing with each of its creditors. Even if a miracle happened and the clock was wound back to zero (and there will be no miracle, because the bulk of the money is owed to multilateral organisations which can neither reschedule nor write off), the country would not be out of the wood, for it is heavily dependent on imports of food and energy which a budget shortfall equal to half its GNP prevents it from financing.
With indicators of this sort, it would take boundless optimism indeed to dare predict economic recovery in the foreseeable future. One expert told me pointedly that the international community, which poured in something like $68 million in aid in 1990, would do better to put the money in the bank and pay every Sao Tom an annual allowance with the interest instead - a jest, no doubt (or was it?), but indicative of the state of mind which such apparently inextricable problems can produce.
Yet despite the disastrous economic record, what faces the foreign visitor to these islands is more paradise than apocalypse. There is wonderful scenery, incredible luxuriance rising to the highlands from which countless falls and mountain torrents flow down to never ending sandy beaches fringed with coconut palms and the infinite shades of blue of the crystal sea. Sao Tomnd Principe are two of the most beautiful islands in the tropics, of that there is no doubt, and relative isolation has enabled them to save most of their primitive vegetation. Some parts of Sao Tomre unexplored, even today, although the island was discovered more than five centuries ago.
It was on 21 December 1470, St Thomas' day (hence the name), that Portuguese mariners saw the island for the first time, but it was another 15 years before Captain Jose Paiva set up camp on the Ana de Chaves bay, on the site of the present capital, and opened the way for colonisation by Portuguese lords. They introduced sugar cane, to be grown by a servile labour force, and, for a few short years in the 16th century, Sao Tomven became the world's biggest sugar producer. The King of Portugal also used this distant land as a kind of penal colony and exiled prisoners to it. In 1493, he sent 2000 Jewish 2-10 year olds, only a few hundred of whom survived the tropical diseases and were still alive by the early 16th century.
But sugar output waned. In 1544, slaves escaping from Angola were shipwrecked off the Rolas Channel. Once ashore, they gathered in the hills of Sao Tomjoining up with more slaves in flight to launch murderous attacks on the plantations. Everything in their path was laid to waste including, in 1574, the capital. Terrified, most of the Portuguese colonials emigrated to Brazil, leaving the plantations in the hands of their mulatto children.
Anarchy reigned for two centuries, with internal fighting, Angolan slave attacks and visits from pillaging French and Dutch pirates, who occupied the island more than once. All this time, the colony was a crossroads for the slave trade and Principe especially became a gathering and victualling point for negro slave ships, so the capital was moved there for a century (1753-1852), only to return after the official ban on slave trading in 1836, by which time Sao Tomad become a prosperous centre for the coffee and cocoa trade.
It was the Governor of the time who brought coffee to Sao Tomn 1800, while cocoa was introduced, initially as a decorative plan, in 1822. For decades, the two crops were grown side by side, although coffee dominated until slavery was abolished in 1875. The slaves were freed and they left the plantations before the harvest, thus completing the planters' ruin. Following advice from the Portuguese bank which invested in the plantations, emphasis was now placed on cocoa and the Government authorised employers to go to Angola to recruit workers on terms very similar to those of the slaves, for they could not go home until their contracts expired. According to the May 1946 issue of the National Geographic Magazine, cocoa planters in Trinidad & Tobago were still being offered Sao Tomlantations complete with buildings and slaves at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1889, cocoa outstripped coffee for the first time and, in 1913, Sao Tomas the world's biggest producer, with 36 500 t of high quality cocoa much sought after on the London market, the main outlet.
The country, its plantation economy on the wane, ticked over gently between the two World Wars and went slowly on until 1953, when bloody repression of a popular uprising triggered the nationalist awakening, as the Portuguese army massacred a thousand Sao Toms demonstrating against attempts to force them to work on the plantations. The Sao Tomamp; Principe Liberation Movement (MLSTP), the direct result of this, was set up in Libreville and it worked mainly through diplomatic channels. In 1973, internal discussions led its historic leader Miguel Trovoada to make way for Manuel Pinto de Costa, who became President when the country, along with other Portuguese territories, became independent two years later, in the wake of Portugal's spring revolution.
The new President went for a Marxist-Leninist rme, brought the whole of the islands under State ownership, with compensation-free nationalisation of all plantations of more than 200 ha and all businesses, and opened a series of 'people's stores'. But the decline in cocoa output combined with poor management of State firms rapidly created economic crisis, forcing the Government to switch directions. The economic liberalisation of 1985 went hand in hand with a more open political climate, leading to the adoption of a multi-party system in 1989, a decision ratified by referendum in August 1990. In January 1991, the former single party, despite a face-lift by Carlos Gra the former opposition leader-in-exile (in Gabon) and now leader, was defeated at the legislative elections by the Party of Democratic Convergence-Think Tank (PDC-GR) and Daniel Daio, its leader, became Prime Minister. This lasted until a difference of opinion over the presidential powers brought him into conflict with Miguel Trovoada (elected to the Presidency, unopposed, in March 1991) and the former was replaced by his Finance Minister, Norberto da Costa Alegre.
Land of ro
Ro the Portuguese word for 'plantation', is soon familiar to the visitor and reasonably enough too, for the whole country's history hinges on them, sugar first, coffee next and cocoa after that. Some even talk about the whole country as a plantation, because the ro occupy 90% of the arable land, almost all that can be used. During the colonial period, there were 45 medium-sised and large plantations, which the Government has since combined to make 15 State plantations. The biggest of all is the impressive Empresa Agricola Agostinho Neto, 6000 ha of northern Sao Tomnd once known as Rio do Ouro after the river which runs through it. There is lovely Agua Iz5000 ha of cocoa bushes on the west coast, and there is Monte Cafthose 1800 ha of highlands in the interior, which, despite a serious decline in output over the past 20 years (150 t down to only 15 t), can still produce some of the finest coffee in the world.
The rosystem is far more than a way of growing things. It is a whole way of life and work which has long shaped the society and the landscape of these islands. The ro, which were designed for the production and export of cocoa, provided the workers with all they needed to live, in exchange for their work. There were houses for them and their families, usually also employed somewhere on the plantation. There was (mostly imported) food such as rice and meat. There was a school for the children and there was medical treatment, for every big plantation had a decently-equipped hospital to cater for the main diseases - in some cases, a highly impressive edifice such as in Agostinho Neto, where there are wide verandas and red tile roofs. The best buildings, of course, richly furnished houses in impeccably-tended gardens, were for the bosses and some of their furniture and paintings from the 1920s, perfectly preserved, can still be seen at Agua Iz
When William Smyser wrote about life on the plantations and the delightfully welcoming hospitality of the planters in the May 1946 National Geographic, he said he felt he had been back in time to the charm and romance of the American deep south.
In America and Sao Tomlike, this way of life was closely linked to the exploitation of a labour force made up of slaves or - not much different - the contract workers whom employers 'forgot' to repatriate when their time was up. In America, it failed to survive the abolition of slavery and the war of secession and, in Sao Tomit went with the end of colonisation and the breakdown of special relations with the former metropolis.
Independence did not just trigger the mass departure of thousands of planters and their staff. It was also the end of safe outlets at guaranteed prices in Portugal. Overnight, everything became more complicated, starting with transport. The Portuguese ships which had stopped so often at Sao Tomo pick up the cocoa harvest on their way to and from Angola now rarely came. The country's output, down to 4640 t p.a. after independence from the 11 586 t of 1973, was of no interest to the big ship-owners (whose vessels could not in any case put into Sao Tomecause there was no deep-water port), when, Cd'Ivoire, say, produced an average of 600 000 t p.a. And, with high humidity, any delay in shifting production lowered both the quality of the cocoa and the income to be derived from it.
Norberto da Costa Alegre put his finger on the problem when he spoke to the third funders' conference in Geneva in mid-July. 'We thought', he said, 'that we could take over our cocoa heritage from the colonial era and that it would bring us in all the foreign exchange we needed. We were wrong on two counts. First of all, with supply increasing and demand falling off, agricultural commodities are fetching less and less on the world market. Second, the cocoa on our plantations was produced under duress. The labour relations brought in after independence, combined with a critical financial situation in the cocoa sector which precluded proper worker motivation, led to demobilisation, followed by a decline in both the productive and the social infrastructure'.
Production today is stagnant at around 4000-5000 t. Yields, at 0.32 t per ha, are very low in comparison with the 2 t per ha of modern plantations in other countries and the bushes themselves are old, 30 years on average, which bodes ill for the future.
Restore the plantations
What can a small, poor, isolated place like Sao Tomamp; Principe do when it loses its only source of income? If the answer is not 'deciding that the country is not economically viable and shutting up shop just as if you were in business', an idea rejected out of hand by the leaders, particularly Arlindo Afonso Carvalho, the Minister of Economic and Financial Affairs, then it has to be trying to save what can be saved and looking for other resources - which is exactly what the Government has been doing since 1987. In that year, it took the country into a structural adjustment programme backed by two loans from the IBRD and three-year financing from the IMF's structural adjustment facility. With help from various funders, including the World Bank, the Caisse Centrale de Cooption, the African Development
Bank and others, it is launching a plan to upgrade six of the 15 State ro, totalling 10000ha, or 40% of the land under cocoa. Management and rehabilitation contracts are being signed with foreign (Portuguese, Belgian and French) firms, but the Government does not seem satisfied with the results so far, because the plantations are still running at a loss - which it has to cover. So it is trying to renegotiate the present contracts. Under the new leases, the management companies will have to finance their investments with their own funds, maintain the value of State assets and pay a rent reflecting the production potential. Alongside this, it is hoping to sign management contracts for the State's other nine plantations and distribute the rest of the land to small producers. But, with prices dwindling on a world cocoa market oversupplied for years, will it find any takers on these new terms? Possibly not...
The other big event in the country's agricultural policy is diversification. On independence, let us not forget, Sao Tomamp; Principe inherited structures dedicated to cocoa production, in which the workers had neither the right nor therefore the means of growing anything else, and the country was and still is heavily dependent on imported food. The only exceptions are bananas, which are everywhere, quite literally, and tubers such as taro, which is common and traded on a small scale with Gabon. Market gardening began in 1985 and there is now a drive to sell cabbages, carrots, tomatoes and beans to Gabon, although Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Josuis Mendes says that this is only an experiment to get to grips with the Gabonese market. As he sees it, the only way out is regional integration. That is what will enable the islands to sell more abroad. Meanwhile, he is hoping to strike a balance between food production and food aid by encouraging the development of such crops as beans and maize.
Another attempt at diversification is the EEC-financed 600 ha Ribeira Peixe oil palm plantation and the palm oil processing plant floated with an EIB loan. This could meet local demand, thus saving on the precious foreign exchange currently spent on imported table oil. That, at least, was the intention, but the oil from Ribeira Peixe is unprocessed, whereas the locals are used to having theirs refined, so there is competition from the imported product and a problem of making extra investments in refining. The plant has already been forced to slow down its machinery because of existing stocks and, on top of that, with the main generator broken down since February 1991, it is now relying on a single back-up generator and mortgaging its future in the process. A technician who actually went out to Sao Tomamp; Principe in December 1991 could not work out what was wrong and the parts he took back with him to Europe still have not been returned.
Diversifying also means developing fisheries. There are currently 3000 artisanal fishermen, but numbers are declining because structural adjustment has pushed up fuel costs. Demand is an estimated 5000 t p.a., but the fishermen are increasingly unable to meet this. In fact, the annual catch has fallen from 3500 t to 2000 t following the fuel price increase, according to Trade, Industry, Tourism and Fisheries Minister Arsemiro Ribeira da Costa dos Prazeres. There is some semi-industrial fishing too, landing 900 t p.a. Two of the six vessels involved here are trawlers belonging to the State, which is anxious to sell them to private owners, but, for the moment, they represent its part in joint ventures with French companies. The other big scheme in this field is the Bight of Benin marine resources assessment operation, an EDF-financed regional project which should, the Minister maintains, lay scientific foundations on which to renegotiate the fisheries agreement with the EEC and improve on the previous terms.
However, the big ambition of the country's leaders on the economic diversification front is to make it a major tourist attraction. They see Seychelles, with $4000 per capita p.a. from the tourist trade, as the shining example and are forever singing the praises of their own country's potential, with its rare flora and fauna, its views and its beaches. And they feel they are right, because investors are already talking about developing the tourist trade on the islands. One French group hopes to open a holiday centre of 15 or so bungalows soon, the main target being a wealthy clientele in the oil companies in Gabon and Congo. Then there is Christian Herringer, the enigmatic businessman of German and South African origins, whose Filippino employees are putting the finishing touches to a top-flight complex for very wealthy holidaymakers on Principe. Her ringer has many interests in Sao Tomamp; Principe. Not only is there his imposing sea-front property. He was also associated with the State in Equatorial, the airline which flew between Gabon and Sao Tomamp; Principe several times a week. With Equatorial in liquidation, the country will have an acute communications problem once more, particularly as the regular line to the outside world, the weekly TAP flight to Lisbon, is nearly empty and likely to be withdrawn if the plan to privatise this Portuguese airline is carried out.
Yet the country has just built a new airport at vast expense - it came to nearly $20 million in the end, three times the original quotation - and the new terminal is one of the cornerstones of the Government's tourist strategy. Another essential is the campaign to control malaria, the country's biggest cause of death, for there is no point in developing tourist activity if the disease cannot be eradicated. With this in mind, a fact-finding mission is due to visit Seychelles in a couple of months to see how far Sao Tomamp; Principe can do what Seychelles did.
Will the cocoa country be the next place the international jet set turns to in its quest for exclusiveness? That is what the leaders seem to be counting on in hoping that the tourist trade will create enough jobs for the islands' increasing numbers of young people. In Sao Tomamp; Principe, the average woman has seven children, Health Mini Minister Dulce Gomes told me. The population is expanding at the rate of 2.9 % p.a. and, outside the country's natural beauty, as the Tourist Minister so baldly puts it, the only real employment alternative is emigration. There are already 10 000 nationals living abroad in Angola and regularisation of the situation would be a relief. But is this a matter for State policy?
One thing is certain. Everyone in Sao Tomamp; Principe, majority and opposition alike, is convinced that there is no future in cocoa. All they need is a viable alternative...
'Our external debt is too big'
Sao Tomamp; Principe, a democracy in its infancy, had its fiirst political crisis in April, three months after the country's first completely free elections since independence in 1975. The cause ? A difference of opinion over his powers, which prompted President of the Republic Miguel Trovoada to remove Prime Minister Daniel Dalo, leader of the Democratic Convergence Party (PCD) and winner of the legislative elections with 64% of the votes and 32 of the 55 seats in the House. The PCD contested the decision strongly to begin with and then accepted it when legal specialists from all the political parties together with two eminent Portuguese constitutionalists investigated the presidential powers closely and clarifed the situation. President Trovoada chose a new Prime Minister from the ranks of the PCD - Norberto da Costa Alegre, the Finance Minister from the previous Government, who answers questions from The Courier in this interview.
· Sao Tomas just seen its new institutions' first political crisis, hasn't it, Prime Minister ? How is it possible to take over the job of Prime Minister from the leader of your own party and what will be your policy ?
- Countries which already have democratic traditions may find it a bit difficult to grasp, but we who are in a new phase and getting a democratic rme going do not find it so. We are trying to find pragmatic solutions without endangering the still very fragile institutions - that was the background against which a new Prime Minister was appointed. But I have to say that my Government is the natural continuation of its predecessor. Programmes are being adapted, of course, but, basically, we shall be carrying on with what was started before.
· But the previous Government also fell because of popular discontent, backed up with demonstrations, and you say you are going to carry on with that policy ?
- The popular discontent was due to the country's economic problems. And, of course, the opposition parties exploited it. But everyone has learnt a lesson from a crisis which, ultimately, was beneficial for the institutions, because democracy has now been strengthened and it is clear to everyone that crises don't help anyone.
· Your Government apparently has only a tiny majority at the moment. Do you actually have the means of governing ?
- Yes, I am convinced that we do. We may have taken things slowly so far, but that is not to say that we are not governing with the requisite stringency and determination. All that has to be done is to try and make a more thorough job of consulting and sounding out the existing political forces, and the various social forces too, so a general framework can be designed and we can move forward in a set-up everyone agrees on.
· Since independence, Sao Tomas been heavily dependent on external aid, which makes a lot of people think that the country isn't viable - although they may only say so in private. What do you have to say to them ?
- I should say that Sao Tomamp; Principe's difficulties are not so very different from the difficulties facing the other countries of Africa. We are running a balance of payments deficit and a budget deficit and we are trying to do something about that. Our investments are not financed with national savings, so we have to look abroad for financing and we have an external debt out of all proportion to the country's domestic production. But those are the problems of other African countries too. Our country is going through what is currently a very difficult period, but we are convinced that things will look up after 1994. At the round table of funders, we shall be concentrating on discussing the debt and the balance of payments and this could mean we can set up the country's development in 1994-2000 differently. So, to sum it all up, the next couple of years will be very difficult, but with the lightening of the debt, the programming of investments and the projected budget, tax and monetary regulation, things will be different after 1994.
· The people who doubt the country's viability point to its lack of exportable resources above all. They say that Sao Tomas even fewer resources than the rest of Africa.
- It does and it doesn't. It does because currently we are 90% dependent on cocoa and it doesn't because the country's potential is varied and we could produce every food product except cereal.
· Although you do in fact produce a little bit of maize...
- Yes, we do. We could diversify our farming and concentrate more on livestock to make up what is currenctly a very big food deficit. We could also look at producing exportable products which don't require a huge amount of space - cinnamon, I mean, and pepper, the spices for which we were once famous. This sort of diversification takes time, of course, but now we are suffering from not having done it before. So it's not that there is no potential. It's that there wasn't a structured enough development plan to promote this sort of agricultural diversification before. When cocoa goes up, everything is fine, but we also have to cater for the times when it goes down, which means alternative products. That is what was missing in the early years of independence.
· Are there economic activities which your country could go in for other than what you have just mentioned, Prime Minister?
- We are very well placed when it comes to developing the services sector. Certainly, there is a whole set of infrastructure there which has to be developed and improved. There is also the whole range of free zone activities. We are particularly well placed there too when it comes to developing exports to Africa and the other continents, because we are on the route to Europe and America. But as I said, this is potential which can only be realised if we develop the infrastructure and that will be one of our priorities in 1992-1994.
· Your relations with the Bretton Woods Institutions have been frozen for the time being, haven't they? Can you confirm that you will be returning to cooperation with the IMF and the World Bank ?
- I am sorry to say that you are wrong there. Relations are not frozen. We very fortunately started them up again early last year and, I have to say, the results are good.
· But payment of the second instalment of the structural adjustment monies was held up...
- No it wasn't. The second instalment will still be paid in June. The Sao Tomamp; Principe programme was put before the Board of the IBRD and the IMF on 10 June - and that was one of the conditions for the round table of funders in Geneva in mid-July. Running the structural adjustment programme with the World Bank and the Monetary Fund was one of the most important things the first Government did and that is going to continue, because Sao Tomamp; Principe's special situation demands it. As I told you, we have to have external aid to meet our internal requirements, to finance our investments and make up the deficit in our balance of payments. So the economic and financial credibility which these institutions confer is very important to us.
· One of the bones of contention with the IMF and the IBID was the administrative reform, wasn't it ? Will the army be cut down too ?
- The army hasn't come into the programmes under discussion with the IBRD and the IMF for the moment. We are talking about public administration as such, but not about very specialised sectors like the army.
· They say that some Portuguese former owners are trying to get back the property they abandoned on independence. What are your Government's intentions here ?
- We have told the Portuguese authorities on a number of occasions that Portuguese investors and promoters will be welcome in Sao Tomamp; Principe.
· That doesn't answer my question. Will they be able to get their property back ?
- That's not it. It's more a question of them applying for investments in farming or other sectors. There is no question of the State just giving property back, unless it can be proven that there were irregularities. There have been cases of irregular expropriation and there the courts decided and the people involved, Sao Toms or foreigners, got their property back. This is a problem for the courts, not the Government. But the Government has told the Portuguese authorities that investors will be welcome in Sao Tome and Principe.
· You said just now that your country had too big a debt for its meagre resources. What is your Government going to try to do about this?
- That will be one of the big questions at the Geneva meeting in mid-July. There are creditors with whom we have to discuss ways of lightening the debt burden. There are many ways of going about it. With some of them, we shall be talking about the possibility of turning these debts into direct investment in Sao Tomamp; Principe. With others, we shall be negotiating a rescheduling of what we owe. And then, of course, there is the whole system we have to find with the donors of bridging the financing gap in our balance of payments.
· By wiping debts out?
- The question is this. We are going to investigate rescheduling the debt and wiping it out and converting it into direct investment with the creditors, but there is more to it than that. There is the external deficit, after all. There is infrastructure which is completely run down. There are imports of goods and equipment to keep up with - which is why, in one and the same framework, we have to discuss the macro-economic set-up for this period with our creditors and with our funders so as to find the means of guaranteeing viability.
· Some of these debts are incomprehensible, Prime Minister, aren't they? What about the 21 million Swiss francs spent on 120 low-grade houses or the cost of the airport - $S million to begin with, but probably more than $15 million in the end ?
- I have to say that Sao Tomamp; Principe is not the only place to have this type of problem, but unfortunately it is in the poorest countries that these things stand out the most. I don't think that the rehabilitation of the airport is the same sort of thing. There were delays which caused the budget to overrun in this case. However, these prefabricated houses are a sorry affair, but, as I said, that is the sort of problem which you don't just see in Sao Tomamp; Principe. Unfortunately you see such things in other parts of Africa too.
· Your country is hosting a very rich foreign citizen, Mr Herringer, I think. What can he do for Sao Tomamp; Principe's development ?
- You have just mentioned someone you claim to be a very rich foreigner. Let me tell you that Sao Tomamp; Principe is host to other foreigners too. I can't tell you how rich they are, but we welcome all foreigners who want to take part in the development of Sao Tomamp; Principe. This gentleman has already invested in some very specific sectors - civil aviation and tourism - and the contacts he established suggested that he was willing to continue his activity. So, as far as we are concerned, he is welcome here.
· One aspect of your policy, I believe, is to boost regional cooperation, not just with the Portuguese speaking nations but with your immediate neighbours too.
- Absolutely. We are convinced that a little country like ours can only survive, in an increasingly regionalised world, if it is an integral part of the sub-region. So all the efforts we are making now to get the economy off the ground again are ultimately intended to enable our country to gain its rightful place in Africa and the world and to make the most of any comparative advantages to put its development on a firmer footing.
Interview by Amadou TRAORE
says 'We could have the same policy with fewer social costs'
Carlos Gra now Secretary-General of Sao Tomamp; Principe's Liberation Movement and Social Democratic Party (MLSTP-PSD), was long an opponent of the regime of President Pinto da Costa and was forced into exile as a result. He took refuge in Gabon, where he practised medicine for 10 years and came home when democracy was announced in 1989, joining the Government as Foreign Minister. So it was a relatively new man who led the former single party, frayed after 15 years of rule, into the elections and managed to restrict the damage by obtaining 30.6% of the votes. It is as leader of the opposition that he answers The Courier's questions in this interview.
· Your party was behind the demonstrations which juts brought down the Government of the Second Republic, I believe...
- The demonstrations were not the essential thing here, I think. They did indeed push events along a bit, but there were two very big problems to begin with. First of all, there was a conflict between the President of the Republic and the Government over a difference of opinion as to how they should interpret what the Constitution said about the scope of the President's duties. The Government, from the PCD. the Democratic Convergence Party, made a lot of authoritarian moves. It tried to put down the old single party, for example, and it tried to weaken the powers which the President of the Republic has under our system of government. Ours is a semi-presidential regime, but one which gives the President considerable powers, especially over external policy and national defence and security, and the PCD, bolstered by its absolute majority, tried to take them away from him. He was unwilling to go along with this, however, hence the institutional conflict... and the President deciding to put down the Government. The second thing was popular discontent over rising prices, which was made worse by the fact that the members of this new party had based their election campaign on the idea that all Sao Tomamp; Principe's problems were due to bad management and corruption in the single party and that things would be bound to get better if the single party was out of the way.
· But don't you think that this austerity policy which caused all the discontent is the consequence of your own policy over the past 16 years ?
- No, I don't. Let me finish what I was saying. The problem is that they made people believe that a change of party was a good thing, so they expected things to get better. There was a euphoric speech. There were implicit promises and explicit promises and the people expected things to get better. But they didn't. They got worse. Purchasing power plummeted and the people weren't prepared for it. In a way, the Government paid for its rabble-rousing, because there were popular demonstrations, the first one spontaneous and the second organised by our party and the other opposition parties.
· But what would you do today if you were in power, with the structural adjustment programme to cope with ? Wouldn't you have to bring in the same sort of measures?
- Of course we would! But we told the truth during the election campaign. We said that we couldn't improve the situation overnight and that improvements would take years of hard work and sacrifice. If we had won the elections, we would have been in a different situation. The people could have coped with one or two sacrifices, but, with all the euphoria of the speeches they had heard, they were obviously not psychologically prepared for a decline in their standard of living. We also believe that we could have brought in these measures a little more gradually, perhaps, and that all the possibilities with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have not been exhausted. Sao Tomamp; Principe is in a special situation; that of a micro-State with no resources, and a slightly better job could have been made of negotiating the unavoidable rationalisation measures. It was the commodity price slump which made the debt so much worse and led almost all the African countries to accept these macro-economic adjustments. It's not a party problem, you see. It's a structural problem which we commodity-exporting countries have.
· How do you see Sao Tomamp; Principe's future?
- We are still optimistic about the medium and long term, because we have possibilities which probably haven't been exploited so far.
· What are you thinking of ?
- We have already done studies on this. The party currently in power is continuing what we did. It is inaugurating a lot of things at the moment, furthermore, projects which we actually got going. We have to get out of the cocoa trade, because there's no future there, that much is clear. We have to look to tourism. Seychelles is some sort of encouragement here, because they make $4000 per capita just with their tourist trade. They have the third or fourth biggest per capita income in Africa and they are only a small country and they only have tourism.
· But it's not an island on the equator like Sao Tome...
- Yes, but it's the same sort of exoticism - views and beaches and so on. We have assets for the tourist trade and we have assets when it comes to industrial fishing. We have very little land, but a great deal of sea, plenty of exclusive economic zone. And despite all the competition, we have also wondered about a free zone and off-shore banking and setting up industries here using the cheap labour to produce goods for the export markets in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon. Those are the three big sectors which should be good for the future - not forgetting agriculture. We have to make an effort to get out of the cocoa trade and promote other, more profitable crops. Pimentos are being studied and tested at the moment and we have to look for other, more profitable export products and try to develop food crops at the same time, because we import a lot of things, like beans, which we could actually grow ourselves.
· You won't be surprised if I tell you that the Prime Minister says exactly the same thing...
- There is no difference between the parties. They all have the same answers. Fukuyama called it the end of history - no more ideological debate. We have the same answers, all of us, we have the same way of looking at the problems, but our different groups struggle. There is even a problem of families here...
· Families ?
- Yes. We have a big family in power here, the Prime Minister's family. But we have no tribal problems, fortunately. I am forever saying that rivalry of that sort is irrational. Why all the hatred of the ex-single party which was completely open in the three years of transition and freed all the prisoners and let all the exiles, me included, come home? And then there was a party which said a lot about democracy but gained power and began a witch-hunt... You have to see the single party in its historical context. All these people were members of the single party. One or two of them were Ministers, even. Take Trovoada and Daio and so on. They bear some of the responsibility.
· So how do you think you can get into power if you are offering the same policy as the present Government?
- The others ran a rabble-rousing campaign and we had been in power for too long. People naturally wanted a change after 15 years. They were 54% for the new party and 30.5% for us - not a bad result given the conditions in which we went to the hustings, with a disastrous economic situation and 15 years of single-party rule behind us. The people who expected to see their standard of living improve are now saying that they were misled. But we are still telling the truth, just as we told it during the election campaign. Our adversaries are coming round to what we say, but it's too late. If there were elections now, we would be bound to win them to run the same policy with perhaps a little more experience and maturity. We could have the same policy at smaller social cost. They said themselves that they haven't been able to promote the social side of the structural adjustment plan yet. Ultimately, when they talked to the opposition parties - the little ones, that is, not us, we haven't met yet - they also admitted that they had been wrong not to have some more dialogue with the MLSTP-PSD. I maintain that it wasn't just a lack of dialogue. It was a veritable witch-hunt as far as we were concerned. We were pushed out of our headquarters, all our smaller district headquarters were taken, we lost our cars and our former Prime Minister was sent to court over a prefabricated housing affair - which was in fact a purely political issue.
· Your experience didn't stop you from coming up with white elephants then...
- It wasn't a white elephant since we didn't think we would be paying for it. When we had the offer, we telephoned Manual Dos Santos, Guinea Bissau's Minister of the Economy, to ask for details because they had the same offer there. And Manuel Dos Santos said: 'No problems. Officially, there is a price which is far more than the houses are worth, but you don't pay anything. You sign and a year later you tell the Italian Government that you can't pay'. The Italian Government, which is already in contact with the Italian firms which build these houses, is intervening. It is paying half in the form of development aid and the other half is to be paid over 10 years. The debt will be rescheduled in a year or two and then written off altogether. But, since the new party failed to stick to the agreed procedure after the elections, it may have to pay up in the end, because the case had to be monitored in Italy for the Italian Government to take over these debts. They blocked the case because they wanted to make a political case out of it and I don't know whether they will be able to set the procedure in motion again after all this time.
Interview by Amadou TRAORE
by Neil CRUMBIE
The Democratic Republic of Sao Tomnd Principe joined the Lom Convention in 1978, two years after its accession to independence. There have therefore been almost 15 years of cooperation with the Community. An Off´ce of the EEC was opened in Sao Tomn 1979, from where a Resident Adviser reports to the Delegation of the Commission in Libreville and acts as a link with the Government.
The National Indicative Programme of the LomV Convention was signed in December 1990 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the National Authorising Officer of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tomnd Principe, Mr Guilherme Posser, and by Mr Jean Delorme on behalf of the Commission of the European Economic Community. The details of this programme are explained later in this article.
Member States accredited to Sao Tomnd Principe are Belgium, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. Portugal, of course, is represented by an Ambassador who exercises the Presidency 'itre permanent' for the Community, being the only Member State Ambassador resident in Sao TomThe others exercise their accreditation either from Luanda in Angola or Libreville in Gabon.
Sao Tomnd Principe has benefited principally from Community aid in the form of interventions under the National Indicative Programmes of Lom, II and III and now under the LomV Programme which is starting in 1992. To this must also be added transfers made under the system of Stabex as compensation for loss of receipts following the export of basic products, cacao in the case of Sao Tomnd Principe, when prices fell below those that had been forecast. The total amount of Stabex transfers was more than ECU 9 million between 1981 and 1991.
Sao Tomnd Principe has also benefited from regional programmes in the Gulf of Guinea as well as aid financed by the European Investment Bank.
Over the last few years, therefore, the EEC has been one of the principal sources of development aid for Sao Tomnd Principe together with Portugal, France, Italy, Sweden, Angola, the World Bank and the United Nations.
Development aid under Lom, II and III has been allocated in support of the development aims of Sao Tomnd Principe.
The development of agriculture and fishing
A project including the planting of a 600 hectare palm plantation to supply a palm oil factory which was financed by risk capital managed by the European Investment Bank was completed and is now in operation. The aim of this project was to provide a capacity for import substitution ensuring a regular supply to the local market while at the same time providing for savings m foreign exchange.
A refrigeration project consisting of four cold storage units was also financed to provide commercial support and a distribution facility to the fishing industry, an important element in the day-today life of the Saotomense people. In time these were supported by two ice-making units.
Finally Sao Tomill benefit from a regional project designed to develop small fishing in the Gulf of Guinea. This will be located at Neves and will involve the rehabilitation of the boatyard.
Projects to provide urban water supplies to Trinidade and Agolares have both been completed as has the structural rehabilitator of the hospital on the island of Principe, which was completed in conjunction with the Portuguese NGO AMI in late 1991.
Other current activities include the construction of a blood bank in conjunction with French and Portuguese aid, in the capital of Sao Tome.
Development of international transport links
A major project has been the rehabilitation of the Port of Sao Tomofinanced with German aid (KFW), who have provided a powertug and two of the four barges, and the United Nations Equipment Programme, which has provided cranes. The Community rehabilitated the quays, and provided for lift trucks and technical assistance.
As part of a regional programme the Community funded the provision of a 200-tonne merchant vessel now named 'Pague' which trades in the Gulf of Guinea between the islands of Sao Tomnd Principe and Cameroun, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. This vessel cost ECU 430 000.
This programme was in support of the balance of payments programme of Sao Tomnd Principe and included the supply of basic products such as soap, caustic soda, powdered and condensed milk and sugar.
A 1000 KVA generator and 8000 meters were also provided to support the islands" infrastructure and facilitate cost recovery.
The 1000 KVA generator, provided by ABC in Brussels, Belgium, still continues to make a very significant contribution to the supply of energy in Sao Tom
Community food aid principally involved the supply of wheat, corn and rice which Sao Tomnd Principe needed as they were unable to produce sufficient quantities of basic foodstuffs for the national diet. The principle involved is that the sale of food and other supplies to the population builds up counterpart funds which are then managed jointly by the Government and the Commission to finance labour-intensive projects in the programme to achieve food security, improve health, education, sanitation and provide for the construction of schools. One such school will shortly be opening in Sao Joao dos Angolares.
The Fishing Agreement between the Community and Sao Tomnd Principe permits fishing licences principally for tuna to be given to Member States' fishing boats. Currently, 30 licences are in operation, for which the Government receives the sum of ECU 1.65 million over a three-year period that started on I June 1990, ECU 150 000 for scientific and technical programmes and ECU 375 000 for commitments to more general fishing and maritime activities.
Of all the health threats to Sao Tomnd Principe, that of malaria remains the greatest and this is now subject to World Bank interventions. During the period of Lom11, the Community provided emergency aid in the fight against malaria amounting to ECU 465 000.
The LomV Convention entered into being in September 1991 and consists of two main sectors which are:
1. The consolidation of the palm oil project in Ribeira Peixe by the rehabilitation of the road between Ribeira Peixe and Sao Joao dos Angolares for an estimated ECU 1.3 million. The African Development Bank, as part of its programme, is financing the rehabilitation of the road between Sao Tomnd Sao Joao dos Angolares.
2. A major project to improve the water supply, drainage and sewage systems in the capital Sao Tomtself for an estimated ECU 3.9 million.
The technical studies for both these major projects have been completed and invitations to tender will be published later in 1992 with works starting in late 1992 and early 1993.
Further funding amounting to ECU 1.3 million will also be made available for agricultural diversification, assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises and the provision of technical assistance.
Finally, discussions are under way concerning the ECU 1.5 million available to Sao Tomnd Principe under the programme for structural adjustment and the ECU 1.5 million available as risk capital from the European Investment Bank.
Until recently, Senegal was French-speaking Africa's only democracy. This, the authorities say, has more to do with colonial heritage than national tradition and it is an historical premise which has its importance in both the practice and the development of the country's political institutions, particularly since a State organisation and operation model often reflects the ambitions of those who design it, in addition to all the socio-cultural and economic factors.
At first sight, Senegalese society has all the hallmarks of a democratic organisation. There is less State pressure on the individual than in many other African nations and the coercive attitude typical of the authorities elsewhere on the continent is virtually imperceptible here. Officially, the country's democracy is a real and positive thing, but the Senegalese themselves can be virulent in their criticism of its political workings - and for domestic far more than historical reasons.
Democracy grinds to a halt
Democratic organisation goes back a long way, but it was set aside nonetheless just after independence in June 1960, when the then Head of State, eminent grammarian Lold Sedar Senghor, was the next leader to be seduced by the one-party system, which lasted until 1978. The single party in question, the Senegalese Progressive Union (UPS), in fact looked more transparent because it included the socialist faction of former Prime Minister Mamadou Dia, although Dia was abruptly removed from power in 1962.
Senegalese politics are heavily influenced by what goes on in Paris and the events in France in May 1968 had their constitutional fall-out, leading to the reestablishment of the post of Prime Minister and a start on a multi-party system in only four years. The new system was made official in 1978, with the recognition of two new parties - the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) and the Independence and Labour Party (PIT). But hidebound regulation of the division between the ideological positions on which the parties were lined up meant that Senegal's democracy was stillborn, its machinery doomed first to freewheel and then grind to a halt. Paradoxical though it may seem, President Senghor thought and decided that the PDS, led by Abdoulaye Wade, the brilliant lawyer, could be nothing but a fairly right-wing free-market organisation and the PIT, Marxist or with Marxist leanings, could only be the extreme left. Only his own party, the Senegalese Progressive Union (UPS), bore the label of social democracy. So the rules of the democratic game were hard and fast and destined to lead, not to a proper pluralist system, but to governance by a dominant party which outstayed its welcome in power, radicalised the official opposition and aroused frustration in all those passed over by an economic policy totally reliant on external aid. The other consequence - one of the most perverse effects of this democracy programmed to seize up - was the development of a one-party cult in Senegal, even among the opposition, because there was no alternative to State direction.
With Africa's economic problems, national constraints and widespread one-party government, successive Senegalese authorities found it easy to develop a democratic image and to reap the dividends on the international scene.
Yet although Senegal's system has a long way to go before it becomes an average democracy, many African peoples - not leaders - would still find much to envy in the lot of the Senegalese. Despite such a firm commitment to the one-party system in its choice of leaders and its attitude to them, Senegal has, to a very large extent, the basic features of pluralist opinion, an aspect of public life which is reflected in great freedom of debate, in religious freedom in a country with a Moslem majority, in the right to be politically active without running any major risk and in the (for an African country) profusion of newspapers, whose lively tone is at variance with the conformity and 'poor standard' of the official media.
Opposition commits hare kiri
In Africa more than on other continents, the State has wanted to be a real provider and opportune or opportunistic sticking to the existing power has helped slow the move towards democracy and bolstered the one-party cult which, in Senegal, has taken hold of the opposition too. The Senegalese opposition was fairly moderate to begin with - more as a 'force of proposition' in the eyes of its principal leader, Abdoulaye Wade - and it has become more radical because of the lack of any alternative. But political combat in Africa has more to do with wielding power than achieving objectives or furthering any concept of the society that is to be built and, in 1990, the Head of the PDS yielded to temptation and joined President Diouf's Government, with neither condition nor portfolio. Just what concessions and assurances did Wade get to go into the Government and why? Newspapers and people close to the PDS leader maintain that there has never been an answer... and Senegalese housewives are still waiting for his promised slash in the price of rice.
Much the same has happened with the PIT. One or two of its leaders joined the Government at the same time as the PDS representatives, but this has done nothing to alter the policy of President Diouf and Habib Thiam, his Prime Minister.
Joining the Government spells hare kiri for the opposition and its principal leader Abdoulaye Wade, they say in Dakar - but without the honour that usually goes with this traditional Japanese form of suicide. The fact that the Government's only Minister of State is standing against President Diouf in the presidentials in February 1993 added to the confusion and made the head of the PDS's position more untenable and, in mid-October, he (like his two partisans) was forced to try and right the situation by resigning from his Government functions. But will this be enough to bring him better fortunes in the presidential elections, particularly in a country where, despite the waning authority of the holy men, particularly in the towns, Moslem brotherhoods can still greatly influence the voters' behaviour?
The other handicap, as one former PDS leader put it, is that the Senegalese opposition has failed to steer democracy or make sure it is properly rooted.
Anxious not to be outpaced
The democracy label attracted international aid for the Government and Senegal has the highest per capita rate of aid in Africa. This has its advantages, of course, but there are disadvantages too, not least the very common belief that aid is inevitable if Senegal is to survive.
The emergence of or the opening to democratic ideas in most of the other countries of Africa since Frans Mitterrand's famous speech at La Baule in 1989 has brought the Senegalese authorities the threat of competition in an area where Senegal has so far been treading a lone path on a continent where democracy was interpreted in widely different ways and was much subject to the carping of the leaders.
Anxious not to be outpaced in the democracy marathon slowly being run on the continent, the Senegalese Government has embarked upon a vast overhaul of its system, setting up a new electoral code, whose first merit is that it was adopted by all the political parties. Voter identity, the secrecy of the ballot (individual booths must be used), the count and transparency in all electoral operations in general are much more stringently controlled than before.
Votes, for example, will now be counted by about 30 committees, each one chaired by a magistrate and comprising representatives of the political parties, but none of the State - 'a real innovation', the Minister for Home Affairs emphasised, although he objected to the 'lack of a State presence' in this matter and thought the Government was at fault ' for going along with it. 'We have gone; further on this one than they have in France,' he added.
But if this is democratic progress for the people, what is the point in regretting going one better than those set up as the example?
There is a limit on the number of terms a president can serve now too - two lots of seven years - and independent candidates can stand, on far easier terms than before.
But one of the most important provisions in the new electoral code concerns the basis on which the President of the Republic is elected. The new Article 28 says that 'henceforward, no-one may be proclaimed elected on the first round unless he has obtained an absolute majority of the votes cast, representing at least one quarter of the electorate, and... if no candidate has obtained the requisite majority, there shall be a second ballot... to take place on the second Sunday following the first round'. There are a number of advantages to this: three of them are that it forces the Government to announce how many people are on the electoral roll before the election, it broadens the basis on which the president is elected (thus avoiding an ethnic, minority-based election in which list manipulation could bypass heavily populated areas hostile to a particular candidate) and it can encourage greater civic duty among the citizens.
Senegal has made a huge effort to update its democratic system in time for February 1993. It has been an expensive undertaking, very expensive indeed bearing in mind the country's income and requirements, and part of the cost has been covered by the international funders, with the European Community giving something like ECU I million.
But going beyond the heavy cost of a better system of democracy, what Senegal's political leaders, opposition included, have to do - and this is most important - is to create optimum conditions in which to safeguard the returns on democracy from which the country has derived so much benefit in years past.
by Famara Ibrahima SAGNA,
Minister of Economic and Financial Affairs and Planning
Under LomSenegal has placed a lot of emphasis on agriculture and rural development in general, economic and social infrastructure and the promotion of business, trade and craft. These sectors were chosen for the simple reason that they are priority areas of our economy.
This aid fits in with the general aims of development in that it stimulates exports and helps with the balance of payments. At the same time, it constitutes support for our drive to promote economic and social development by financing key sectors of the economy.
The aid, which is normally absorbed by the Senegalese authorities, has made it possible, inter alia, to run major schemes in agriculture and rural development in general and in economic and social infrastructure and to set up machinery to stabilise our export revenue or finance particular products, emergency aid and so on.
We in Senegal use Stabex and we have had more than CFAF 76 billion for our groundnut products so far.
Commnity aid for Podor
Aid has been focused on a region like Podor above all to make up for regional differences in economic awl social infrastructure, to provide support for the opening of SMEs and to promote development at grass roots level. It is therefore in line with the trend in cooperation which began with the 6th EDF, which, true to the principle of geographical concentration, channelled CFAF 33 billion into the Podor region, as follows:
- CFAF 16.8 billion for hydro-agricultural developments;
- CFAF 1.75 billion to restore the natural environment;
- CFAF 700 million as support for the opening of SMEs;
- CFAF 8 billion for economic and social infrastructure;
- CFAF 3.15 billion as support for a variety of grassroots development schemes.
Human rights and development
The problem does not arise in Senegal's case, because our country began taking notice of human rights long before the funders thought about them as an attribute of aid. Our country made this factor, the human condition and human rights, an integral part of the untouchable principles of its economic and social management a long time ago.
In Senegal, we believe that the Convention is the preferred framework for cooperation. That poses no problems since, alongside this cooperation under the Convention, the other, non-Convention cooperation, with its special programmes of emergency aid and fishing programmes and Stabex and Sysmin and so on, is very fruitful and our country has had a lot of advantages from it so far.
The 6th EDF
Let us look at the nine most important aspects covered here.
The following general aims have been achieved.
- The most efficient growing techniques (animal-drawn machinery,
wind breaks and R&cD) have been phased in.
- The degree of financial and technical autonomy of producers, now grouped together in economic interest groups, has been improved.
- They have been equipped with mills, huskers, threshers etc.
- The back-up structure is equipped and working properly.
- Women have been involved in production.
Training for farmers, particularly when it comes to management and keeping accounts, is still the weak spot here.
Restoring the natural environment
Despite unfavourable local eco-climatic conditions (drought, wind erosion and the over-exploitation of natural resources), quantity-wise the project targets have been met overall.
The difficulty is actually to involve the peasant farmers in the preservation and restoration of the environment in which they live.
Small and medium-sized businesses
Something like 100 projects have been run here since January 1990. The people are displaying an increasing interest in access to bank loans and joining economic interest groups and the setting up of the CNCAS in Ndioum and the BICIS in Podor should help this along.
However, the problems are:
- getting the promoters to realise that the idea of
reimbursement is in fact a reality, an obligation which cannot be ducked and is
beneficial for all concerned;
- generating collective solidarity between all promoters by means of the mutual guarantee fund;
- diversifying agricultural production;
- setting up small, lasting, profitable processing units.
- rehabilitation of the RN2, the second national road, with
cofinancing from Italy;
- the making of production and communication tracks on the island of Morphil;
- urban infrastructure (water supplies, drainage, the bus station and extensions to the market) in Podor;
- regional radio, with a view to Senegalese Radio and Television (RTS) covering the northern parts of the valley.
This is going well, but the health authorities' meagre contribution to the proper running of the programme could be a barrier.
Socio-cultural environment and the promotion of women
Micro-projects were run here to provide support for various development schemes at grass roots level.
Coordination and monitoring
Community support here is in the form of:
- financing of the national expert for the programme monitoring
committee at the Ministry of Economic and Financial Affairs and Planning since
October 1988; - financing of technical assistance for the unit responsible for
maintaining the dam;
- financing of the expert missions needed to prepare, implement and evaluate the programme;
- financing of a study of the economic power of women in the Podor department.
Cooperation outside me indicative programme
- EIB loans of CFAF 2.275 billion to the SOFISEDIT, CFAF 2.45
billion to the State for its share in the extra capital of the ICSs and CFAF 4.2
billion to SONATEL.
- CFAF 37 billion-worth of Stabex transfers.
- CFAF 1 billion to resettle returnees from Mauritania.
- CFAF 4 billion-worth (100 000 t) of crude oil in 1988 as support for the balance of payments.
- A Sysmin loan of CFAF 5.3 billion to remove cadmium from Senegalese phosphate.
Senegal has benefited from some CFAF 45.5 billion here, used to set up 10 regional projects including a solar programme, a butane programme, the Dakar-Banjul road and support for ASECNA.
Trying to describe Senegal's economy in one, short article is something of a challenge. The situation has broken down to the point where structures have disintegrated and the informal sector has mushroomed. The causes are deep-rooted. 'The policy of post-l 960 Governments can be seen as a continuation of the colonial administration that went before' and, on top of that, the structural adjustment policy applied since 1980 has failed to do anything about the problems or get the economy going again on firmer foundations.
There is of course always matter for debate here. The official line is that the policies are sound and the current economic situation inauspicious. But scratch the surface and opinions as to the state of the Senegalese economy are mixed and sometimes harsh. 'No national accounting has been done since 1981. Saving is a thing of the past, although medium- and long-term bank deposits seem to be increasing at the same time,' Frans Boye, Head of the Economics Teaching and Research Unit at Senegal's Saint-Louis University, told me. Could these banking assets be a way of financing the economy?
'No', Frans Boye said. 'Paradoxically, the opposite is happening and the Prime Minister is going to the African Development Bank (ADB) to borrow something like CFAF 39 billion to finance the SMEs at the same time.'
The new industrial policy (NIP)
In theory, relatively healthy Senegalese banks should help prop up investments, especially in industry, but, in practice, they do not. Traditionally, Africa's financial establishments are chary about investing in production, for a start, and the 'complete failure of the NIP' and the 'inconsistency' of the general economic policy are holding back the development of industry, despite the Government's attempt to reshape the policy for this sector, which, as one international report made clear, has, typically, none of the major multiplying factors, fails to capitalise on local resources and has high production costs. So the major part of the manufacturing sector - with 17% of GDP in 1987, second only to Cd'Ivoire in this part of Africa - has taken a hard knock, although statistics produced by the Ministry of Economic and Financial Affairs and Planning suggest that the industrial component of GDP went up by 0.3% overall in 1991 (to 18.9%, from the 18.6% of 1990).
However, analyses do not predict any significant change in 1992 or 1993, particularly since the main products (textiles, preserved fish, oil and groundnut by-products) are selling badly because of international competition or poor competitiveness or because Africa in general and Senegal in particular have a tradition of importing the goods (other than textiles, for the most part) the consumer wants.
The phosphate sector has seen its export opportunities dwindle because of the high cadmium content of the Senegalese product, but output and income could well be looking up soon with aid of something like ECU 15 million from the European Community helping to get the 3 industry on its feet again.
Yet there will be no real take-off for any branch of the nation's industry without a thorough rationalisation of the management and economic objectives of the whole - which is the Government's aim in embarking on a strategy of rehabilitating the businesses in which the State is still a shareholder and following the World Bank's recommendations by bringing in measures to create a climate conducive to foreign investment. This means a new labour code in the very near future, the possibility of a single tax or flexible price control and many other measures to bring down management costs.
This is all very laudable, but the businessmen apparently want more than that. Their feeling is that the approved arrangements have had only a minimal effect on management cost compression so far. 'Senegal's employers wish to put the Government on its guard about the economic policy, which is worsening the financial situation of the country's businesses,' Amadou Moctar Sow, the chairman of the National Employers' Confederation, told me. The State, he maintained, should have asked the economic operators for their advice before coming up with its own measures on tax and work organisation and company competitiveness.
The futility of Senegal's ten years of structural adjustment was also to be blamed on those same errors of Government approach, he said, 'in allowing the World Bank to graft onto Senegal measures which bore no relation to local economic or political reality... and could only lead to the bad results we all know about.' This analysis of the situation comes fairly close to that of the country's main funders, who are keen to see macroeconomic factors and the structure of the market completely changed to make for a better balance of industry and services and stop the informal sector from proliferating to the increasing detriment of modern industry. But of course, with internal and external debt precluding any far-reaching tax measures (see profile), the Government is going to find any investment incentive and support policy difficult.
Agriculture - drought not the only culprit
Few countries can make a success of industrialisation without developing a strong agricultural sector first. Senegal and the other African States spent nearly three decades running policies aimed at proving this natural process of economic development wrong. They failed and now they have difficult food situations on their hands. Unsuitable measures have left domestic production in ruins and the drought which has crippled agricultural potential In Senegal and the rest of the Sahel is no longer alone in bearing most of the blame for the decline of the nation's farm sector.
The production sector has gone through nationalisation, which had more to do with introducing civil service practices, and it has undergone total and partial privatisation, but Senegalese farmers have always stuck to their traditional methods and grown what they did in the period, with just one crop or, at best, a two-crop system relying heavily on groundnuts. Attempts at diversifying into off-season vegetables (tomatoes) for export failed to make their mark because they involved a high-cost product aimed essentially at the export market and oyerlooked the psychological barriers and regulations hampering international trade. Although Senegal's agriculture accounted for 22% of GDP and provided employment for 80% of the country's workers in 1987, the national food record is largely negative. In 1990-91, an estimated 517 900 t of the available 1 289 396 t of cereal equivalent came from imports and 51 952 t were food aid - figures which, along with those for other areas, show just how export-oriented the Senegalese economy is.
Then there is the population count, expected to reach 10 million in eight years at the present rate of growth of 3.2% p.a. and implying an increase in cereal equivalent of something like 561 000 t. The Government has also adopted a new agricultural policy (the NAP), intended to bring about 80% self sufficiency in food by the year 2000 and involving being able to push the current rice output of 181000t p.a. up to 740000 t by that date. Notwithstanding an energetic drive forward, in particular with the vast European Community-supported Podor rice project in the Senegal Valley, there is little chance that the NAP target will be reached without difficulty, unless every potential resource is put to work, especially in Casamance. But, given the historico-political (and possibly economic) issue facing the people there, which loomed large for the first time in 1992 and all but upset the even tenor of Senegalese politics, Casamance's problem has to be completely solved first.
Almost every economic parameter is negative. What can be done about it? That is the question and few are willing to hazard even the slightest guess. Senegal's economic problem is a problem of the people and a problem of the Government, in contrast with some places where politics are a bigger burden on the economy. Frans Boye, head of the economics faculty at Saint-Louis University, said that 'no enterprise will last unless the rules of the game are made clear... and thoroughgoing political reform is undertaken.'
'Politicians do not tell the truth,' the economist went on. 'With all its deficits financed from abroad, Senegal is a land of plenty'. But how much longer will it last?
Tourism remains one of the sectors which Senegal can rely on to increase its income in hard currency and to reduce the balance of payments deficit. Indeed, in French-speaking Africa, Senegal is the principal tourist destination, ahead of the Ivory Coast. In the continent as a whole, it is in fourth place behind Kenya, Zimbabwe and Botswana as regards total international tourist arrivals.
But this flattering comparison may be somewhat misleading. In overall world terms it emerges that, of the 400 million tourists recorded in 1989 by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), barely five million visited Africa (1.2% of the total) and only 265 000 of these spent their holidays in Senegal. In financial terms, these visitors represented c $123 million in income to the country,, making Senegal the top earner from tourism in West Africa and the third most important tourist destination in the continent. It is worth noting that Africa's five million tourists generated only 0.7% ($1.37 billion) of the world's total tourist earnings (5194.5 billion) in 1989.
There are also indications that all is not well with Senegal's tourist industry. The reasons for the decline in this sector are, as elsewhere, related to internal structural problems combined with unfavourable economic conditions in the tourists' own countries.
As regards the first of these, it is stated in an expert report that 'the Senegalese tourist product, the cost of which is too high in relation to the competition, has become tarnished and outdated'. This assessment is corroborated by the information coming from tourist operators. Broadly speaking, they are pessimistic about the future. An example which illustrates the problem is the 'Club Aldiana' which has now been operating in Senegal for 20 years. Usage of the 230-bed establishment, which caters mainly for European tourists, has been declining for a number of years. The occupancy rate, which averaged 67.18% in 1989, fell to 60.09% in 1990, 54.31% in 1991 and the trend has continued since then.
Senegalese tourist promoters attribute this state of affairs, at least partly, to the strength of the CFA franc, which has a fixed parity with the French currency. This means that prices in Senegal are largely comparable with those of developed countries. They also contrast unfavourably with the prices charged in neighbouring Gambia, which offers a tourist product of similar quality. Hence the latter enjoys a competitive edge.
In short, it appears that Senegalese tourism needs to be redesigned in terms of both the product and its operation, with a view to attracting visitors who are not necessarily in the habit of acquiring a loyalty to a particular holiday destination.
Map of Senegal (A)
Map of Senegal (B)
Table 1: Balance of payments (in billions of CFA francs)
Table 2: Foreign national dept outstanding (in billions of CFA francs)
Senegal and the European Community have been partners for a long time. For 30 years, the two countries have worked side by side to create development policies which have had an effect on all the major economic sectors.
More than 370 billion CFA francs have been made available to the Senegalese authorities, principally through the European Development Funds, but also by virtue of a range of other instruments set up by the Community over the years.
At the heart of the relationship lies technical and financial cooperation, which has covered and continues to cover a wide range of areas. Today, the main focus is on two of the principal sectors in Senegal's development namely, agriculture and road infrastructure.
As a country bordering the Atlantic Ocean which has traditionally derived an income from its maritime resources, Senegal has, not surprisingly, also benefited in no small measure since 1979 from the fishing agreements which it has concluded with the European Community.
A third source of assistance for Senegal has been through SYSMIN, the system of support for mineral exports. This support has had a continuing and significant impact on the development of the phosphates industry, which is a major provider of foreign exchange for the country. The European Investment Bank (EIB), an important partner for Senegal, has been active in providing backing to the phosphates sector, and is also involved in other major projects including the upgrading and extension of the telephone network and improvements to Dakar's water supply system.
Very recently, Senegal has made use of funds, coming partly from the 'human rights and democracy' budget heading for developing countries, for the organisation of the May 1993 general elections.
Finally, under the heading of regional cooperation, Senegal and other countries of West Africa will, with EC support, shortly begin implementation of the Regional Indicative Programme. Eighty billion CFA francs (ECU 228 million) have been made available for this purpose and the funds will be directed towards three focal sectors - the management of natural resources and the protection of the environment, transport and telecommunications, and the improvement of the natural resource base.
Financial and technical cooperation, fishing agreements, SYSMIN, help for the democratic process, regional cooperation - these are all examples of a cooperative relationship which has many aspects but just one essential goal - the development of Senegal.
An agricultural country
Primary production still predominates in Senegal, 30 years after independence. Notwithstanding the relative importance of other areas of activity, the country remains fundamentally an agricultural one. This sector still leads the field in economic terms, providing 22% of GDP in 1991 and work for almost three quarters of the population.
Cooperation between the EC and Senegal has been influenced by this situation, following broadly the orientations and priorities set by the Senegalese authorities. After independence, Senegal, with the support of the first EDF (19581963), developed and modernised its export crops, which were the only source of foreign exchange available to pay for equipment and administration. Groundnuts were specifically targeted. The aim of the cooperation was, in essence, to enable this sector to remain competitive while at the same time meeting the requirements set out in the rules adopted by the newly established European Community.
The second EDF (1964-1969) went on to provide assistance for agricultural diversification with support for cotton growing in eastern Senegal as well as a number of support measures for farmers (equipment for new farmers, soil improvement, seed distribution etc.).
The drought of the 1970s came as a major shock. National authorities and donors alike had to respond rapidly to the immediate needs of the population before embarking on the search for new, longer-term solutions to the crisis. This involved the re-establishment of both productive projects and infrastructures. The third and fourth EDFs (1970-1980) were to reflect these concerns.
The fifth EDF (1981-1985), imbued with the spirit of the 'Memorandum on Community Development Policy' drafted by the Development Commissioner, Mr Pisani, emphasised development programmes and projects per se rather than more generalised aid.
The purpose of these interventions is to bring about food security for the population, improve the environment and fight desertification. In order to achieve the objectives, a framework of measures was put in place by the authorities. These included the establishment of a Cereal Plan in 1986 and the construction of dams at Diama and Manantali which came into service in October 1992 after ten years of effort.
The Cereal Plan gives a diagnosis of the food situation in Senegal and sets out the main principles on an overhauled agricultural policy. The plan strongly emphasises the importance of national production, supported in particular by an incentive pricing policy. There are plans to reduce the country's food deficit through increased use of irrigation, primarily in the Senegal River Valley. It deals at length with the redefinition of the role of the State and of regional development enterprises, with enhanced participation by the people and the private sector.
Irrigation based on the Senegal River in this way is rendered possible by the building of dams. These dams are a major priority for the three riparian States - Mali, Mauritania and Senegal - since they offer the means of re-establishing food security for the populations affected by drought. The European Community will be heavily involved in the execution of this project, the purpose of which is to fight desertification and help the local people to meet their own needs for food as well as to generate sufficient income.
The expansion of the rice sector, which is currently the only feasible option for increasing rural incomes, involves developments aimed at the peasant populations and designed to increase profitability. Experience acquired in the field by the European Community, which has over the years developed more than 6800 hectares of irrigated land, given over mainly to rice, has provided a good basis for its participation in the discussions about the agricultural structural adjustment programme, in so far as it affects the rice sector. The rice component of the programme involves an agreed approach between the donors and the Senegalese Government, along the lines of the wider Cereal Plan, which supports the disengagement of the Government from this sector.
The 6th EDF and Podor
The framework having been established, the European Community increased its existing efforts in the Senegal River Valley under the 6th EDF (19851990). The implementation of a support programme costing 35 billion CFA francs for the development of the Podor Region has had a visible impact upon its landscape. There were a number of different objectives - to ensure food security, to restore the natural environment and to open up the region.
This programme, which was based principally on hydro-agricultural development, was also directed towards the road infrastructure. There was, furthermore, a novel component aimed at creating employment through small and medium-sized enterprises and at achieving social development through microprojects.
Different types of project
To achieve the food security objectives, different types of complementary hydro-agricultural development were put in place. They should provide peasants with the capacity to feed themselves and to release savings. Implementation of the schemes fits in with the increased responsibility being taken by peasants, who are organised in Economic Interest Groupings (EIGs). EIGs themselves have made significant progress over the period.
The first developments, the basins, are large surface areas equipped with a pumping station. Development works cost some CFAF 5 million per hectare. The areas are brought into productive operation by the peasants, who are provided with high-quality equipment and materials for the purpose. Following the previously estabilished pilot scheme at Nianga (633 hectares), and the one now set up at Diomandou (470 hectares)' two further sites, at Ndioum (700 hectares) and A Lao (1025 hectares), will be made available for the peasants.
Then there are 1050 hectares of irrigated village perimeters which have progressively been made available under the programme, following on from the 2293 hectares under previous EDFs. The individual plots, which are closer to the villages and have an average area of between 10 and 20 hectares, will henceforth include agro-forestry as well. Development work in this area is more modestly priced at about CFAF I million per hectare. Finally, almost 300 hectares of perimeter have been made available to villagers under the SME programme. This is mainly for the benefit of private individuals, and development costs are between 0.3 and 0.4 million CFA francs per hectare.
Work to restore the natural environment, which is one of the objectives of the programme, has been carried out under the 'Prna' heading with a budget of CFAF 1.7 billion. The object is to reverse the process of degradation of natural resources. Thirty years ago, forests covered hundreds of thousands of hectares in the river area. Today, no forest remains. 'Prna', which began in 1988, follows on from two previous forestry projects, from which valuable experience was gained. The programme, which faces many difficulties, is designed to induce the local people to take charge of the management of the forest resource in a way which fits in with agriculture, livestock and water supply.
Roads - a speciality of European cooperation
For 30 years, the European Community has put considerable amounts of effort into road infrastructures - in financial terms, more than 22 billion CFA francs. In the St Louis region alone, the Rosso-Bio-Ndioum link was financed under the 6th EDF at a cost of 3.6 billion CFA francs. A logical next step was the rehabilitation of a stretch further up on the Dakar-St Louis route with a view to opening up the northern region. On a different level, tracks have been laid out in the Podor region under a CFAF 1.8 billion programme which allows the people of the island of More, phil, a zone which is cut off from the ' world during the rainy season and when the river is high, to go about their business.
Work in the field of small and medium-sized enterprises is not confined exclusively to the agriculture sector. It also extends to a range of other activities. The aim is to increase the value of private enterprise and to meet the strong demand for credit facilities which is not met by the traditional banking sector. This introduction to the business world has as its basis the withdrawal of the State and the privatisation of agricultural activities - a very different state of affairs from the development options of the 1960s and 1970s.
The establishment of SMEs was carried out initially through two separate projects which were merged in 1991. The first, which was emergency aid finance, involved the integration of returnees from Mauritania while the second took the form of support for the creation of SMEs made available under the 6th EDF. A total of almost two billion CFA francs has been injected into the region under this project, helping in the establishment of more than 500 SMEs throughout the Senegal River Valley.
This highly positive experience has also resulted in a change of attitude, as regards SMEs, on the part of the commercial banks. There is, on the current agenda, the opening of a line of credit of more than CFAF 600 million, to be allocated in part to the banks and in part to a financial company for risk capital investments in enterprises.
A community approach
This approach in no sense excludes local community participation. The microprojects budget heading, which has CFAF 500 million (ECU 1.4 million), supports initiatives in favour of women and young people in the development of the region. Henhouses, sheep enclosures, gardens, onion storage centres, school renovation schemes and health facilities, all established with community participation, are highly appreciated, particularly in those areas where women or young people have not hitherto received much attention.
Similarly, through the health programme financed under the 6th EDF (CFAF 700 million), the focus is mainly on improving basic health care for people in the Podor region. This has been possible, in no small measure, thanks to the major efforts undertaken through previous EDFs, which resulted in the building of regional hospitals in Ndioum and Ourossogui and the renovation of that of St Louis.
The health component of the 6th EDF was developed in close liaison with the rest of the support programme for the Podor region. It is clear that while the improvement in living conditions necessarily entails hydro-agricultural development, it is unfortunately also the case that this leads to an increase in malaria and bilharzia - illnesses linked to water. It was necessary to tackle these issues, and the related one of water hygiene, without delay. This was why the highly popular and decentralised programme for malaria and the 'water-hygiene-health' programme were developed. These concentrated on education, training and awareness-raising throughout the area and involved a series of concerted actions which brought together local people and medical staff working in the region. Research has also been funded in the fight against bilharzia.
The improvement of water quality is one of the two objectives of the village water scheme, which has been allocated CFAF 2.5 billion under the Support Programme. This scheme, which is increasingly to be taken over by the local people, aims to provide the population of 36 villages in the Podor region with water in sufficient quantity and of suitable quality. The programme involves the restoration of existing boreholes and wells, the sinking of new boreholes and the development of infrastructure for storing and distributing water. In order to achieve maximum efficiency, the village water programme was linked to the regional solar programme (CFAF 1.5 billion) which allows for the provision of photovoltaic equipment for pumping but also for lighting, sanitary refrigeration and the recharging of batteries.
Table 1: Summary of Community aid to Senegal Situation at 31 December 1991
No discussion of the impact of the 6th EDF would be complete without a reference to the modernisation of the town of Podor under the budget heading of 'urban infrastructure', to the tune of CFAF 1.4 billion. At the entrance to the town there is now a large bus station used by bush taxis, while in the centre a covered market and shops have contributed to an improvement in facilities for the retail trade and for the storage of fresh products. Finally, as regards environmental improvements, water supply and sewage networks have been developed beneath new asphalted roads.
7th EDF - job creation and - food security
The finishing touches are currently being put to the 7th EDF programme, which has been allocated CFAF 38 billion (ECU 112 million). This will build on the work undertaken through previous EDFs. In the 'roads' section of the sectoral transport adjustment programme, the strategy which has been adopted involves preserving what had already been achieved through rehabilitation and maintenance. This will be carried out in future by the private sector. A substantial amount - some 25 billion CFAF - has been set aside for the implementation of the roads programme.
The other principal areas of activity will be in job creation and food security. Priority programmes in the social, political and economic spheres involving SMEs and microprojects will be extended to other regions and will be mixed with small public investment programmes of high labour intensity. Food security will be the major objective behind the implementation of low-cost hydro-agricultural developments aimed at crop-growing in an increasingly 'privatised' environment.
Trade cooperation - fish top the export league
Senegal, which has very favourable natural conditions for fisheries with its 700 kilometres of coast, has traditionally been able to exploit this position to its advantage. Fish continue to be the principal source of export revenues (some 23% of the total in 1989, representing more than 60 billion CFA francs).
The fisheries agreements between the European Community and Senegal have represented both a significant and an original initiative as regards cooperation in this area. Concluded first in 1979, and then renegotiated every two years, the agreements have established a precedent. In effect, the two-yearly operating protocols set out fishing rights for Community vessels as well as the compensatory payments to be made by the Community. To the latter must also be added the payment by vessel owners of annual fishing licence fees.
One of the most important original aspects of the agreement is the establishment of a series of specific provisions including the obligation to land tuna catches in Senegal. This ensures a source of supply for Senegalese canneries. The payment by the Community also contains an element which is used to finance scientific programmes as well as study and training grants.
The most recent operating protocol, signed on I October 1992 for a two-year period, broadly maintains the previous position. The total allowable catch is the same as in the previous protocol calculated on the basis of vessel tonnages (30 600 tonnes) with adaptations to the needs of Community fishermen as well as to categories and types of fishing (with freezing). Financial compensation has increased - up from CFAF 10.062 billion (ECU 28.75 million) to CFAF 10.608 billion (ECU 31.2 million) with CFAF 210 million (ECU 600 000) devoted to the financing of scientific programmes and CFAF 70 million (ECU 200 000) given over to bursaries and studies.
Industrial cooperation - phosphates
The phosphate industry is a third important source of foreign exchange for Senegal, contributing about 22% of export earnings.
Senegal has benefited and will continue to benefit from a range of European financial mechanisms designed to help restore the competitiveness of this sector in an international market affected by recession and by a tendency towards lower prices. This is a competitiveness which has been further affected by the fact that Senegalese phosphates have a high cadmium content, and this poses ecological risks for the purchasing country.
An initial sum of some 5 billion CFA francs (ECU 15 million) was agreed in 1990. This allows for the development of techniques aimed at reducing cadmium levels as well as for adaptation by the relevant companies to the extra costs which have resulted. This project is currently under way.
A new agreement was signed on 28 October, involving the sum of CFAF 3.7 billion (ECU 10.5 million) in order to increase the capacity of one of the factories operating in this sector. This drive for productivity will also be supported by the European Investment Bank. The EIB is presently studying a project proposal costing CFAF 5 billion (ECU 15 million) in order to assist in the exploitation of new reserves.
Overall, the support of the European Community for the maintenance of Senegal's phosphate industry will, therefore, be substantial, amounting in total to CFAF 15 billion (ECU 45 million). To this sum should be added the various other sources of financial assistance from the EIB, which have amounted to some 12 billion CFA francs (ECU 35 million) since the beginning of the 1980s.
More than CFAF 500 million for elections
A new approach introduced by the European Community, from which Senegal has been able to benefit, is that of assisting the democratic process. CFAF 525 million (ECU 1.5 million) has been provided to support the electoral process in the forthcoming poll (in 1993). Part of the funds comes from the special budget heading to support actions favouring human rights and democracy in developing countries. The remainder is in the form of resources from Senegal's own national indicative programme under the 7th EDF.
Through this measure, the European Community is making a concrete contribution to the implementation of the new, consensual electoral code which was promulgated on 7 February 1992. This code requires the mobilisation of substantial financial resources to cover a series of technical operations which must be carried out if the new system is to work successfully.
In cooperation with the Senegalese authorities and other concerned donors, the help supplied by the Community will mainly involve the printing of the election documents for the May 1993 general elections. Most of the budget is for ballot papers, election envelopes, information posters and voting cards.
In short, this illustrates the desire within Europe to offer support and assistance, through positive action, for the democratic process and ways of enhancing it.
by Dr Terry MABBETT
It is one thing to be one of the world's biggest producers of cocoa beans but quite another to be the world's top quality producer. Ghana can claim to be both.
After slipping back in the mid 1980s when its raw cocoa production "roughed at 159000 tonnes, Ghana has made a steady comeback with 1991/92 forecasts at 275 000 tonnes and a third place ranking in the world order of production.
However, throughout this period and irrespective of whether production was rising or falling, Ghana has maintained its position at the very top of the quality league. This achievement is the product of the world's most comprehensive and rigorous quality control inspection programme which has its roots back in 1927 when this West African producer first introduced inspections at the port prior to shipment and export. These individual checks evolved into a full scale inspection programme starting at the farm gate and progressing right along the marketing chain. But planned changes to Ghana's in-country marketing system may jeopardise years of achievement and reputation and chocolate manufacturers around the world are waiting to see if the top quality of Ghanaian cocoa is maintained.
Leading chocolate manufacturers are fearful for Ghana's traditionally high quality cocoa beans following the planned privatisation of the Government's total control of marketing. The loss of reputation for the 'Gold Standard' in cocoa quality and against which all other origins are judged could be catastrophic for this West African producer and chocolate manufacturers alike. Under pressure from the World Bank and within economic and political climates that are favouring the break-up of government monopolies and control, the Government of Ghana is actively seeking applications from interested parties to operate as internal buyers within the cocoa marketing system when the changeover occurs on I October 1992.
Currently there is total government control over the marketing of cocoa from the farm gate to the export market. Under the auspices of the Ghana Cocoa Board, strict quality control operates-from the time the farmer arrives at the local store with his fermented and dried cocoa until it is loaded on board ship bound for the country's export markets in Europe and elsewhere. Thus all cocoa leaving Ghana in export consignments from the port at Toma, and arriving at the manufacturer's factory overseas has a government seal of approval which importers: and manufacturers have come to recognise as being the world's best for quality. It is this achievement and reputation that is on the line if the proposed changes to Ghana's cocoa marketing system do not offer the same level of quality control that currently exists under the Ghana Cocoa Board.
The Produce Marketing Company (PBC) does all the purchasing of dried cocoa beans at the 'farm gate'. In fact Ghana's farmers are currently able to bring their cocoa to almost any of their 3000 local stores around the country which are ready at any time to receive the crop. PBC is responsible for the despatch of cocoa down the marketing chain within a tightly controlled system to the port from where the Cocoa Marketing Company, acting as an agent of government, is responsible for selling the commodity into the export market. Through its journey from the farm gate to the ship, the cocoa is inspected regularly by the Quality Control Division (QCD) which carries out a dual quality control and fumigation service for both PBC and CMC.
But things are changing and will continue to do so at an even more rapid pace. From October 1 1992, the Produce Buying Company will, as a limited company, be purchasing cocoa from farmers in competition with a large number of private internal buyers.
The Cocoa Marketing Company has already become a limited company and will now formally purchase and own the cocoa at the port, whereas previously it acted purely as an agent through the Ghana Cocoa Board. The Quality Control Division, also destined to become a limited company, will charge CMC, PBC and the internal buyers a competitive fee for their service.
The Cocoa Service Division (CSD) and Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), two wholly-owned subsidiaries of GCB, are key providers of support to the country's cocoa farmers. CSD gives support directly through extension services and provision of planting material while CRIG, with an international reputation, is central to continuing progress through research and development m all aspects of on-farm production. It is possible that CSD will move to the Ministry of Agriculture while CRIG will become the responsibility of the Ministry of Scientific and Industrial Research.
Quality control key
Chocolate manufacturers know that it is the strict quality control from farm gate to ship that gives Ghana's cocoa its consistent, number one quality. Rigidly-operated quality control m Ghana starts from the moment the farmer arrives at the local store with his cocoa. From there, cocoa beans at 7.5% moisture content are put straight into hessian export bags at the store and stay there during the journey to the port warehouse and onto the ship. Along this chain the beans are further inspected at the port warehouse and again before loading onto the ship. Indeed when a chocolate manufacturer m Europe or elsewhere slits open the bags of beans they are in just as good condition as when the bags were filled at the local store in Ghana.
It is not only the number of inspections that are crucial to maintaining this standard of quality but also the timing of inspections in relation to the marketing cycle. Rubbish and damaged beans contribute significantly to downgrade cocoa but chocolate manufacturers are agreed that it is poorly dried cocoa that is the biggest enemy of good quality, full chocolate flavour and absence of off-flavours. Dying is not just the physical evaporation of water from the beans but an extension of the oxidative stage of fermentation and thus plays an important role in reducing bitterness and astringency as well as developing the chocolate brown colour of well fermented beans.
Try as they might, manufacturers cannot process mouldy beans which have been poorly dried into products with a good chocolate flavour. Rate of drying is crucially important, for drying too slowly allows moulds to devdop which affect the taste and invariably cause off-flavours.
Similarly, a too rapid drying of cocoa does not expel a sufficient quantity of volatile acids (mainly acetic) leaving the beans with an unacceptable acid taste and more often than not, lacking in chocolate flavour.
Ghana has avoided this problem by providing a large number of up country village stores which are always ready to receive farmer's cocoa. Knowinz this, the farmer can take his time and dry his beans correctly and at the right speed, because he is not pressurised into meeting dead lines for weekly or fortnightly pick up. Of further assistance to the farmer and a benefit that is transmitted all the way along the cocoa marketing chain in Ghana through to the chocolate manufacturer, is that the quality control process at the store involves the farmer. It is carried out in his presence and he therefore quickly learns what makes good quality cocoa and those factors responsible for down-grading. Forewarned is forearmed and Ghanaian farmers weed out the rubbish and damaged beans before arriving at the store and ensure that their cocoa is properly dried. The net result is farmer education, farmer incentives and top quality, good flavour cocoa for the manufacturer. Having passed this first, rigorous quality-control inspection at the store the beans are bagged, sealed and numbered so the Quality Controller can be identified at any later stage when the beans are re-graded. The beans arrive at factories in Europe, North America and Japan in those same export bags.
As the changeover approaches, chocolate manufacturers look with some apprehension and foreboding to the situation in neighbouring Cd'Ivoire. This is the world's biggest producer but quality is less consistent compared to that of Ghana. Indeed the same cocoa produced in closely matched climatic conditions with similar on-farm processing methods never matches the quality or price attained by cocoa of Ghanaian origin. Ghanaian cocoa always fetches at least a £30-40/tonne premium over Ivoirian beans and when looking at the in-country marketing system, it is not hard to see why. In Cd'Ivoire, itinerant buyers purchase all the cocoa in the villages with almost no quality examination. Buyers may only come once a week so farmers often sell improperly dried cocoa in order not to miss the sale. Ivoirian farmers are thus less aware of the reasons for poor quality and the inclusion of rubbish and the blending of good and bad cocoa is commonplace. On delivery to the itinerant buyer in the village, the cocoa is simply placed into re-used "bush bags" with little quality control and it moves in these to the town stores and then to the factory at the port. If cocoa is purchased at moisture content in excess of the ideal 7.5%, then it may remain like that until arrival in the exporters « usine de conditionnement » in the port, several days or even weeks later, by which time many beans may be mouldy. Furthermore, at the port factory, good and bad qualities are blended to meet the minimum grade standards and this is then placed in export sacks. Quality control is carried out just before shipment, after the sacks are sealed, but these are not numbered to identify the grader.
Chocolate manufacturers appreciate that Ghana's system of in-country marketing is expensive to operate but point out that the country stands to lose a great deal more unless the proposed changes safeguard its top quality cocoa. One chocolate manufacturer put it on the line. « There is only one thing you can do with bad quality cocoa. That is to blend it with good cocoa, lower the overall quality of the bean and risk damage to your processed product».
by Andreas LAGGIS *
Lake Victoria, shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, is the largest freshwater body in the tropics and the third largest in the world, with a surface area of approximately 69 000 km2 and a shoreline which exceeds 3 200 km at 1 130 metres above sea level. Considering its size and biological productivity potential, Lake Victoria is not only an important fishery resource: according to recently published evidence, the lake seems to interact with certain large scale climatic phenomena and it may be proven to be a 'barometer' for changes reported as far away as Latin America.
Historically, the lake hosted a dynamic multiple-species fishery until the late 1970s in the form of the tilapline and haplochromine cichlids (60-80% of the catch composition) but also with important subsidiary fisheries of more than 20 genera of non-cichlid fish, such as mormyrids, catfish, anadromous cyprinids, lungfish, etc. The naturally occurring fish fauna was modified during the 1950s following the introduction of four non-indigenous tilapias and was further altered around the 1960s by the introduction of Nile perch (Lates niloticus). The objective of the introduction was to increase fish production for the increasing human population after the collapse of the fisheries of the endemic tilapias since Nile perch could feed on haplochromines, which were in abundance, commercially unimportant and almost regarded as a 'bash fish'. Of late, fish stocks in many parts of the lake are tending to be dominated by the two introduced species of Nile perch and Nile tilapia and one endemic cyprinid Rastrineobola argentea. Most of the traditional fish species, including the once abundant haplochromines, have either declined or almost disappeared from the commercial catch of the lake (Okaronon, 1990).
Despite all the above events, developments continue to take place with a view to increasing the exploitation of the fish resources of Lake Victoria, especially those of Nile perch. A number of fish processing and handling plants have been constructed a]ong the shores of the lake in order to supply appreciable quantitites of Nile perch to both internal and export markets. The liberalisation measures of July 1990 on trade, especially border trade between Uganda and Kenya, have further increased demand for fish and increased pressure on the stocks (Okaronon, 1990). During the 1960s and 1970s, the bulk of commercial catches (which, however, did not exceed 50 000 tonnes in total) was contributed by tilapline cichlids. Nile perch landings started to appear in the statistics only in the early 1970s and amounted to just a few hundred tonnes in 1977. A remarkable change in the fisheries of the lake occurred thereafter, with catches of Nile perch alone amounting to some 300 000 tonnes in the early 1990s and with tilapline landings inversely affected. The species which were introduced, though they have been in Lake Victoria for less than 40 years, have contributed to the highest catches ever recorded (total production from the lake now exceeds 500 000 tonnes of fish, more than 50% of which comes from Nile perch and approximately 15% from tilapias). In terms of greater availability of food, employment opportunities and financial return to the industry, the new fisheries regime has proved to be of tremendous value to lakeside populations and fish consumers within the three riparian states and the neighbouring region (Twongo, 1992).
The controversy over me introduction of Nile perch
According to some scientists the introduction of Nile perch into Lake Victoria has caused an ecological catastrophe. Others, investigating the effects of introducing alien species into established ecosystems, believe that it is never easy in ecology to ascribe cause and effect to provide a straightforward reply to this particular question. In fact, there have been successful introductions of alien species of fish into lakes in Africa: Limnothrissa introduced into the artificial Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe is a well-documented example.
Trying to determine precisely the effects of Nile perch on the other fish of Lake Victoria is extremely difficult, partly because many of the endemic species have never been accurately described, very little being known of their biology. Some may already have disappeared from the lake before the introduction of Nile perch without it ever being known to science. Certainly, the Nile perch cannot be blamed unreservedly for the decline of the haplochromine stocks in Lake Victoria. Haplochromines, according to the FAO, were already overfished in the lake. No-one denies, however, that the interlopers have had at least some effect and common sense suggests that their effect has been very great indeed as more than 90% of the haplochromine ichthyomass, which was recorded in 1974, is now missing from the lake.
The Nile perch is an opportunistic carnivore which can grow to over 100 kg in a few years and eats as much as would be expected for a fish of its size. It harmoniously co-exists with numerous other fish species in many African water bodies where it is endemic, like in Lakes Tanganyika, Turkana (Kenya), Albert (Uganda), Chad (Central Africa) and the River Nile starting from below the Murchinson Falls in Lake Victoria. These falls actually block its natural migration and colonisation into Lake Victoria's ecosystem (Acere, 1988).
Arguments against the introduction of Nile perch also have another scientific basis, namely that due to energy losses by the predatory fish, overall productivity in the lake will be down by some 60-80% of its potential if it were inhabited by plankton and detritus feeders such as haplochromines and tilaplines.
There is further room for discussion on this subject. However, what is most worrying of all is the hard scientific evidence that while the total catches from the lake appear to have been increasing during the 1980s, following the explosive increase in Nile perch stocks, the mean size of the individual fish caught from the lake has continued to decline during the same period. This means that the continued abundance of fish resources in the lake should not be taken for granted.
The need for further research
In view of this ambiguous situation, where there is an increased demand for fish and currently little knowledge as to the magnitude and potential of the available stocks from which this demand is to be met, it is increasingly necessary to establish a proper management system based on analysis of pertinent data with the aim of exploiting the fish resources of the lake whilst conserving the stocks.
Back in 1947, with the establishment of the East Africa High Commission and later its successor, the East African Community, some fisheries research and regulation programmes were organised on a lakewide basis under the East African Freshwater Fisheries Research Organisation (EAFFRO) based in Jinja. This organisation, with its fisheries research vessel IBIS; donated in 1968 by UNDP/FAO, was well equipped to be a good base of information on the ecology of the whole lake. Sadly, the East African Community collapsed abruptly in 1977 and all the research stations, equipment and vessels were taken over by the countries within whose boundaries they were positioned at the time of the collapse. This random distribution of assets, especially of the vessels, has been a source of discontent and mistrust ever since. In the subsequent difficult economic and political times much of the research infrastructure, including the IBIS vessel, has deteriorated and fallen into disuse, though the National Research Institutions still exist, even if they are ill-equipped.
As mentioned above, in about 1960, Nile perch was intentionally introduced into Lake Victoria in Uganda. Ironically, the explosive and controversial effects of this exotic introduction did not start to appear until about the time when the Community, and consequently the regional research programmes, collapsed. Information on the rapidly changing ecosystem came initially from the three poorly-equipped National Fisheries Research Institutes, while more recently the Dutch-aided HEST programme has been providing the only available data.
The EEC Lake Fisheries Research project was initiated in 1989, with a view, through financing and technical support in the fields of vessels, infrastructure, equipment, training etc, to helping the National Institutes around Lake Victoria fill this gap and carry on research projects.
National and international bodies agree that further research is urgently needed so as not only to understand but also to forecast the emerging changes in the fauna of the lake. The objective will be to establish a valid system of fisheries management.
While there is historical caution between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in terms of regional use of physical research infrastructure across state borders, there is demonstrable enthusiasm at the level of researchers for regionally planned research programmes and for regional cooperation in the sharing, analysing and interpretation of data. Recently, the neighbouring Lake Victoria governments have gone a step further in overcoming their differences by requesting the Commission of the European Communities to launch a new fisheries research project, and they have agreed to appoint Uganda's National Authorising Officer as the Regional Authorising Officer for the proposed project.
It is my personal view that this type of research project is an excellent area for regional cooperation with good prospects of being successful. It can demonstrate that scientists can revive the spirit of cooperation and coordination in relation to some of their common interests, which could bring identifiable benefits to all three countries. If fisheries research is continued and expanded, it will be possible to develop appropriate longterm policies and planning for the lake, which is of prime importance as a protein source to each of the three riparian countries. This will also embrace other shoreside development not restricted merely to fishing and fish processing.
Lake Victoria itself faces problems of asphyxia
Apart from its fishery aspects, Lake Victoria has a national and regional significance. There is industrial and urban development along the lake shores, agricultural activities, transport and so on. However, the development has been to a large extent badly planned and as a result there is widespread deforestation, soil erosion in the lake watersheds, agricultural pollution from pesticides and eutrophication from fertilisers and domestic and industrial effluents. There has also been mismanagment in the use of the fringe wetland zones and their reclamation for agricultural use. These have had, and will continue to have both direct and indirect effects on the lake environment and fisheries.
Lake Victoria is a bowl-like basin with an average depth of 40 metres and a maximum depth of 90 metres in a few places in the centre. Nutrients in the lake initially support greater primary production (phytoplankton), which in turn is grazed by zooplankton and other phytoplankton feeders to feed planktivore organisms like haplochromines and tilaplines which ultimately feed Nile perch and other carnivorous species found at the top of the food chain.
Excess fertilisation (eutrophication) will result in blooms of phytoplankton and water pollution and will primarily affect the composition of phytoplankton and develop one-species types (sometimes toxic) of blooms of monstrous proportions which often 'get out of hand'. High-generation turnover results in vast amounts of these plankton blooms dying and sinking to the bottom where they are decomposed by bacteria before being taken by the planktivore or detrivorous species. In deep water, where oxygen transport through diffusion, vertical movement of water or photosynthesis is insufficient, dead organic matter accumulates at the bottom and provokes oxygen depletion from the bacterial action. Thus, oxygen is removed from the lower depths, creating a gradually expanding death zone of water now some 40 metres thick. Fish swimming in this zone are asphyxiated and die.
Although records of fish kills date back to the 1920s, these is evidence that they have been increasing in recent years. In 1987, a research study conducted by life scientists showed that thousands of fish, including the exotic Nile perch, had died in mass quantities in Lake Victoria, reportedly due to low levels of dissolved oxygen. Similar disasters occurred several times afterwards and thousands of different fish species died due to the same cause, oxygen depletion and/or pollution.
Quite recently, another unforeseeable event, closely associated with the nutrient enrichment of the waters, is having a direct influence not only on man's activities (e.g. fishing and transport) but also on the lake itself. Tremendous quantities of floating aquatic macrophytes (mainly the exotic water hyacinth) have proliferated at an enormous rate in the shallow sheltered inshore areas of the lake. Water hyacinth quickly reaches pest proportions, causing constriction of wind-induced water movements, buildup of anoxic levels below the plant mats, excessive losses of water through evapotranspiration, and then, as it dies and sinks as detritus to the bottom of the lake, increases the organic load and anoxic conditions in wide areas at the bottom of the lake. New approaches to reduce the problem in recent years, using biological control methods or other means, have shown good results. An accurate assessment of the extent of the problem, particularly for the artisanal fishing communities, followed by trials to develop control strategies in selected locations, may provide solutions.
The danger posed by the spread of water hyacinth in Uganda's lakes has attracted the interest of the authorities and a workshop was organised in Kampala in October 1991 under the auspices of the FAO. The aim of this workshop was to raise public awareness of the problem and draw on available expertise in the various fields to help develop a National Action Plan for water hyacinth control.
A new role for the public sector?
In conclusion, it is obvious that the problems associated with the introduction of exotic species into Lake Victoria or the pollution phenomena could in the near future have tremendous consequences for the 30 million human beings living around the lake. Facing up to these ecological changes is urgently needed if the ecosystem is to stand a chance of being stabilised. Measures should not only extend to the valuable fisheries resources but also include reafforestation programmes as well as the protection of the shoreline swamps and wetlands to halt the flow of sediments and to filter the pollutants from the runoff.
It is my feeling that tackling the problems of this aquatic environment presents a good opportunity for both national and international organisations to pursue their development objectives by stimulating fisheries and for other relevant departments to view the fisheries sector in a more holistic way having regard to its interactions with other sectors. Projects in this direction would assist the public sector in developing countries in finding a new role to play, in widening its interests beyond the production sector and looking at lakeshore, river or coastal fishing communities in a much broader community-based way.
- Acere, T.O., The controversy over Nile perch Lates niloticus in Lake Victoria, Naga, The ICLARM Quarterly, October 1988.
- Okaronon, J.I., Future prospects of the fish stocks of Lake Victoria, Uganda, Food and Agriculture Conference, Kampala, 1990.
- Okaronon, J.O. and Wadanya, J., Fishery resource base for the Uganda sector of Lake Victoria; IFP Report RAF/87/099/TD/31/92 (En), 1992.
- Twongo, T., Management issues, options and strategies for Lake Victoria fisheries, IFIP Report RAF/87/099/TD/ 31/92, 1992.
by Claudy VOUH
'People are rightly demanding education for their children and for themselves. They are eager for places in literacy groups, but this is not the only answer.' Justin Ellis, who is Under-Secretary for Non-Formal Education in the Namibian Ministry of Education and Culture, emphasises the need for a comprehensive approach. Policy-makers, trainers and community activists who promote nonformal and adult education are facing staggering problems.
When Namibia won its independence in 1990, following 22 years of war against the South African regime, only 1% of black adults had completed secondary school. Today, illiteracy runs at over 65 % of the black adult population, and women are particularly affected. Reform of the basic (formal) education system seeks to redress the imbalances inherited from the former regime. Under South African rules, education was only compulsory for whites. It is now obligatory for all children up to the age of 16. Adult education is also receiving a lot of attention and new Colleges of Adult Education will open their doors at the start of the next academic year.
It is no easy task to promote education (either formal or non-formal) in a country which is still experiencing de facto economic and social apartheid. Over 70% of the GDP is controlled by the 5% white population whereas the rest of Namibia's one and a half million people - nearly half of whom live in the communal lands of Ovamboland in the north of the country - earn a pittance as farm workers, communal farmers or small traders. Youngsters - mainly males - roam the streets of the capital, Windhoek, selling newspapers, guiding cars into parking spaces or simply sitting at crossroads hoping to be picked up for a day's casual work. A recent survey found that one third of the 3000 young 'street sitters' never find jobs, while 37% of those who do earn only five rend (ECU 1.25) or less per week. At present, it is estimated that more than half of the 550000 economically-active Namibians are unemployed, or underemployed. Young people and women are the worst off. With fewer than 4000 jobs created each year for the 16 500 new entrants into the labour market, the Government has made the promotion of self-employment schemes and of alternative employment a priority.
The multi-faceted nature and novelty of local employment initiatives has created some confusion over the precise meaning of terms such as 'micro-projects', 'small-scale enterprises' and 'income-generating projects'. Areas of responsibility are still to be clearly assigned. A task force is envisaged to coordinate the work of the various Ministries and of the increasing number of Namibian and international NGOs operating at the grass roots.
Within the Ministry of Education and Culture, responsibility for overseeing the implementation of adult skills training lies with the Directorate for Adult Skills and Non-Formal Education. It is a new Directorate which has to operate flexibly in order to meet the many and varied demands for 'adult education' end make the link between adults' literacy/numeracy needs and skills training. The Directorate aims to act as a facilitator between the local groups requesting help and the network of NGOs, ministries and international donors willing and able to assist them.
There are already many local groups working to regenerate their areas and create income-earning opportunities. In some regions, however, political and ethnic divisions hamper the organisation of communities. Basic needs such as food production and housing are top priorities across the country. The production of clothes and craft objects is prevalent amongst women's groups.
Assessing needs and equipping people with the technical and managerial skills they require to run such projects is the challenge faced by the Directorate for Adult Skills and its partners. Recent regional visits to local groups have identified the need to train community and literacy organisers working at the grassroots in participatory development, gender issues, sustainability, marketing and access to credit. More practical requirements, such as proposal writing or book-keeping come high on the communities' agendas as do needs for premises, basic equipment and raw materials. The production of training 'tools' has begun in the Directorate and collaboration with other partners should result in more elaborate 'tools' being designed in the future. Some success has been achieved in using the national press as a vehicle for educational materials focusing on the theme of self-employment.
The Directorate's strategy is largely inspired by the 'Skills Development for Self-Reliance' (SDSR) scheme which has been developed and implemented by the ILO with sponsorship from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) in several countries of East Africa. It is hoped that SIDA will also sponsor the scheme in Namibia. SDSR focuses on participatory development methods and aims to work with local communities towards identification of market needs and self-assessment of people's skills and-training requirements. Follow-up and monitoring are essential parts of the process as is the emphasis on bona fide income generation.
However, the SDSR 'tools' developed in East Africa will clearly require adjustment to suit the Namibian situation. With inherited infrastructures designed to hamper self-reliance, a land surface equivalent to France and the UK put together and a population of less than two million, Namibia has its own very specific problems. In these circumstances, it cannot afford to depend solely on 'ready-made' recipes from abroad.
At the end of June this year, the Group of Seven - a group of institutes, chambers of Commerce and Industries and organisations of private business with interests in Africa, from eight EC Member States - adopted its general guidelines for investing in Africa. Over and above their analysis of the African continent's investment climate, it outlines their 'Charter of Principles' which will guide their future operations there. We print here the full text of this charter.
Under the present circumstances, European Community (EC) co-operation with Africa is more necessary than ever and should be continued, essentially within the framework of the Fourth Lomonvention (LomV). However, African countries must be aware that they cannot rely permanently on external aid. African governments do have the capacity to stabilise their economies to correct structural imbalances and to build a brighter future based on sustained growth.
The experience of several countries has demonstrated that it is possible to achieve a rapid improvement in living standards. This requires realistic stabilisation policies, implemented with courage and determination, as well as the elimination of those factors which distort resource allocation. No less important is the curtailment of the role of the State in the economy, in addition to the promotion of a sounder business and social environment. For their part, businessmen from both the indigenous and offshore private sectors must not hesitate to fulfil their role in development promotion.
The world economy has improved dramatically during the second half of the 20th century. However, the economies of the African countries have failed to maintain this pace. On the whole, they have performed unfavourably: in more than half of the sub-Saharan African countries, the per capita income is now lower than it was 25 years ago. In many countries there is a higher probability of a child dying before the age of five than of attending secondary schooling. In many cases, the foreign debt burden has reached proportions which, in practice, hinder the application of the objectives laid down in Article 27 of LomV, i.e. to finance development by recourse to the international money markets. Article 243 acknowledges that the present situation in African countries has many complex causes, both domestic and external.
The steady deterioration of the terms of trade, the external debt burden and inadequacy of international aid stand out amongst the external causes. It would, however, be incorrect to attribute excessive importance to these external factors, as there are many countries which, by the more efficient use of available resources, have been able to overcome trade deterioration and achieve high living standards. Many countries that were almost asphyxiated by the burden of external debt only a decade ago are presently on the threshold of industrialisation.
Whilst the argument that there is inadequate foreign aid is correct, it should be qualified on two counts: firstly, financial aid to African countries has been no less than that provided to other developing regions and, secondly, because funds available for foreign aid are presently limited due to pressures created by recent worldwide changes. Under the present circumstances, therefore, it would be unrealistic to expect a substantial increase in foreign aid.
The main causes of the present situation in African countries are internal, resulting from, firstly, macro-economic policies based on unrealistic assumptions, which have proved both inadequate and unsustainable and, secondly, from the pervasive presence of the public sector in the provision of goods and services. Thirdly, there is inadequate communication between the State and private business, which hinders the use of available resources and the creation of a sound social and business environment. Finally, the situation is the result of a lack of infrastructure and properly trained human resources.
Macro-economic policies frequently fail to pay sufficient attention to the need to contain the imbalance in the public accounts and to prevent the over-valuation of the official exchange rate. The outcome of such policies is predictable: i) chronic imbalances in the current account of the balance of payments and unsustainable growth of external debt; ii) inflationary pressures; iii) stagnation of the export sector reflecting the scarcity of finance, inadequate signals given by the exchange rate and protectionist policies.
There is presently a general consensus that the private sector has a comparative advantage in the provision of goods and services. The role of the State should, in this context, be restricted to preventing the creation of monopolies, to allowing the market to fulfil its role in resource allocation and to ensuring the strict and just application of the law. The State should concentrate its resources, both human and financial, on promoting health, education and infrastructure.
The cooperation programmes directly linked to the private sector - in African countries and EC countries - should be stimulated with a view to accelerating trade promotion. There shall also be a strong commitment to identifying a more active role in reducing, as far as possible, barriers for exports from African countries, which would permit trade expansion and an improvement of the balance of payments position. Similarly, LomV structured aid funds should be available for commercial promotion to the benefit of African countries.
African countries suffer both from severe infrastructure inadequacy and also from the shortage of properly trained human resources. These factors explain in part recent developments in Africa and also, no less importantly, dampen the potential for long-term growth, in the area of human resources and also in the development of proper health services, it is considered that there is scope for widening the debate on Chapter 3 (Part Two, Title XI) of the LomV Convention, thereby ensuring the optimisation of government resources.
Construction of a prosperous future
Experience drawn from successful development permits the establishment of three main principles: i) African countries should adopt realistic macro-economic policies; ii) they should reduce the role of the State in the provision of goods and services; iii) they should create a sound business and social environment.
Rather than blaming unfavourable external factors, African nations should help themselves by adopting stable policies which include the curtailment of State intervention in the economy.
As experience has shown, adherence to these principles can produce rapid results: the wider the consensus amongst those who strive for a brighter future for Africa, the sooner this will be achieved.
Principles of investment
Investment is a necessary condition for long-term sustainable growth and, consequently, for ensuring a substantial improvement in living standards. For many reasons, investment has been inadequate and, no less importantly, insufficiently rewarding. With the right motivation, this situation can be rectified.
Action to encourage a sustained increase must be given a higher priority than in the past: unless the appropriate steps are taken, further development of the African economies is questionable. However, the mobilisation of business interests has two major requirements. The first concerns the social, political, legal and economic framework. The second, more specifically, concerns the act of investment and production decision criteria, rules for evaluation, incentives, loans and many other factors.
Investment decisions depend primarily on the assessment of risk and return. To allow investment to increase in the medium term, there are certain general criteria which should be observed:
1. Democratic Stability. Stability and proper democratic representation are important factors in investment decisions which, by their very nature, involve longterm contracts. However, the political systems in some African countries rely on representational systems that hardly ensure the stability of contractual relationships and hinder the formation of a social consensus. The creation of a stable and peaceful environment, with straightforward investment regulations, is a priority for foreign investors. Of no less importance is a democratic environment in which human rights are fully respected.
2. Barriers to Entry. Due to the inadequate perception of the role of the State in the economy, some countries tend to protect their economy by numerous barriers, both explicit and implicit. Although barriers to entry may be necessary in specific circumstances - particularly in those countries which have raw materials which can be processed and marketed regionally - they generally lead to both inefficient resource allocation and an unhealthy attitude towards foreign investment. Domestic investors too are adversely affected by protection measures in favour of State enterprises. The elimination of barriers, both explicit and implicit, is therefore a requirement for the expansion of domestic and foreign investment.
3. Public Administration. The excessive and inefficient bureaucracy of many African countries is a major barrier to investment: it delays decisions, reduces transparency and encourages corruption and patronage, thereby inhibiting potential investors. The quality of Public Administration is, therefore, of key importance to private investors.
4. Legal Framework. A simplified and more transparent legal framework, with the emphasis on the areas of property, commercial rights and labour law, would be welcomed, particularly if this stimulates more rapid decisions by the courts and the law is enforced more effectively. It is equally important to ensure that, under national and international law and in the spirit of Article 307 of LomV, the option to appeal be preserved.
5. Macro-economic Stabilisation. Longterm economic stability is only achievable by ensuring a macro-economic balance in terms of monetary, fiscal and exchange rate considerations and a sound balance of payments. Postponement of stabilisation can lead only to higher economic and social adjustment costs in the future. The economic and social problems of African countries cannot be solved exclusively by short-term stabilisation: structural adjustment is required. This has been recognised by the European Community and the ACP countries in Article 243 of LomV and is in line with the current practice of multi-national institutions which focus on development promotion.
6. Financial Systems. Macro-economic imbalances and protectionism frequently result in financial constraints which inhibit the proper role of interest rates in influencing financial resource allocation. Financial repression prevents an adequate return of savings and, equally significantly, distorts investment criteria. These constrained financial regimes are governed more by administrative principles than by market forces, which, amongst other negative results, hinders investment and normal business operations. With a view to promoting development it is very important to stimulate sound and efficient financial structures.
7. Commercial Policy. An essential element of investment promotion and sustained growth is an appropriate commercial policy. The principal aims of commercial policy should be to stabilise the real exchange rate and simultaneously to reduce and simplify the tariff structure. In several countries, an unrealistic exchange rate has penalised the export sector and consequently distorted resource allocation. Recent experience shows that sound exchange rate policies permit substantial gains in market shares and, therefore, demonstrate that African countries are capable of reversing their market share situation. Tariff systems should be reviewed and simplified, as the current systems have, in many cases, generated the opposite results to those originally envisaged. They have not stimulated production, nor protected consumers. On the contrary, many tariff barriers have led to corruption, bureaucracy and the encouragement of the parallel or informal market.
8. Taxation. More coherent tax structures, embracing corporation tax, personal income tax, indirect taxes, import and export duties, witholding tax and double-taxation agreements, would be welcome and would comply with the conditions of Articles 308 and 309 of LomV.
9. Labour. No country can prosper unless it has access to health and education systems and to proper training. Inadequacies in these areas are, without any doubt, a major obstacle to long-term growth. It is seen as the government's task to concentrate available resources on the improvement of health, education and training of skilled workers. Given the scarcity of human and financial resources, the State should abstain from multiple activities, particularly in production related activities. Rather, it should focus available resources on the improvement of social conditions.
10. Physical infrastructure. The reduction of State intervention would allow African governments to promote the construction of the basic physical infrastructure, such as roads, ports, airfields, communications, power, sanitation, schools and housing.
11. Regional Cooperation and Integration. Deepening regional integration and cooperation should stimulate private investment. Regional cooperation and integration allows market expansion, generates complementarily trade, optimises the allocation of human resources, takes advantage of economies of scale and promotes external trade. There can be no doubt that the international community will support cooperation and integration initiatives originating in African countries.
A favourable environment is necessary to increase investment, particularly direct foreign investment. This is attracted only to those countries which demonstrate practically that investment is welcome rather than just tolerated. The process of investment should be simplified, as should the subsequent operation of new projects resulting from investment.
1. Project Evaluation. Investment decisions and approval should be based exclusively on project viability and profitability. Except in those cases where investment projects are specifically subsidised, it is the responsibility of the businessmen to bear the risk and that of the State to avoid impeding investment, particularly on the basis of subjective or devious reasoning.
2. Prompt Remittability of Funds. Foreign investiment implies financial risk which has to be "warded when successful. Additionally, serious technical and commercial risks have to be taken into account. Businessmen expect their investment to be of use to the community, through the creation of wealth, increased revenue from taxation and employment. In developing countries, there are other benefits to the host nation to be considered: (a) Access to international markets; (b) Technology transfer; (c) Transfer of improved living standards; (d) Product quality; (e) Environmental protection; (f) Local education and training; (g) Competitive incentives to local economic activities; (h) Equity investments which, unlike loans, only generate outflows when successful.
Given the magnitude of the benefits to the host country, obstacles or delays in the way of the repatriation of funds generated by investment such as dividends, royalties and service fees, should be eliminated if African countries are to compete successfully with Asian and European countries for scarce natural resources.
3. Investiment Code. Foreign investment should not be subject to complex regulations and procedures. Investment codes should be clear, simple and efficiently implemented. The local administration should be able to provide the information required to minimise uncertainty and thereby reduce project risk.
4. Financial Services. Foreign investors require financial services both in local markets and offshore. Liberalisation of the financial system permits a more efficient mobilisation of savings and the development of more effective financial institutions. There should be clear separation between the functions of the Central, commercial and investment banks. The State should refrain from interfering in those commercial decisions which are the sole responsibility of the private sector; these decisions should be based exclusively on rational economic and financial principles.
5. Incentives. Many countries with a trained labour force, sound infrastructure and natural resources comparable with African countries offer generous incentives to attract foreign investors.
It must be made clear that attracting foreign investment to Africa involves intense competition with other regions, implying a major effort, clear regulations and generous incentives.
6. Concessionary Funds. The participation of multilateral institutions in investment projects is important for several reasons. Firstly, because it permits concessionary funding, secondly, because it introduces technical competence and, finally, because it reduces risk. With the aim of encouraging a faster and more efficient use of funds, it is recommended that the scope of the coordination mechanisms and methods laid down in Article 249 of LomV be extended.
Anyone who follows the press and the media - and, in too many poor or disaster-struck countries, anyone who merely looks around them - will have seen 1992 as a year when the call for humanitarian relief in many parts of the world has been particularly loud.
Millions of people are crying out for help, from the nations of Southern Africa ravaged by the worst drought this century to the innocent victims of war, disease and starvation in Somalia, from the refugees and internees driven out by 'ethnic cleansing' in former Yugoslavia to the homeless victims of cyclones in the Caribbean and the Pacific... the depressing list goes on.
All this has come on top of two years of already major crises which stressed human, physical and financial resources to the limit in different parts of the world. Prosperous countries and bilateral and international aid agencies have once again been urged to step up their efforts to help those in need by providing yet more humanitarian relief, refugee assistance and food aid.
The response to past emergencies from both the ordinary public and official bodies confirmed the existence of a worldwide fund of generosity and goodwill. The European Community's spending on emergency aid has gone up by a factor of ten in the last three years. But experience in getting help to the suffering has also exposed certain practical weaknesses in aid arrangements. Both the United Nations and the European Community have set up new departments to streamline their humanitarian relief work. Much thought is going into faster and more secure ways of tackling natural or man-made disasters.
New situations naturally call for new solutions. In two countries where no effective central authority has control, Somalia and former Yugoslavia, organisations which have always taken great care never to be associated with any side in a conflict situation have now had to accept armed protection in order to continue their humanitarian work in safety. Donors and relief experts are asking themselves searching questions about where this might lead. Is neutrality possible once soldiers are involved in getting aid supplies through ? Does the international community have a right of intervention or, as others prefer to call it, of humanitarian assistance? Would there be any point in sending aid to a country in chaos, where it might be misappropriated ?
Meanwhile most people's perceptions of the humanitarian situation in the world are formed by what is presented to them in the media. What responsibility do journalists bear when faced with a humanitarian crisis?
The Dossier in this issue of The Courier looks at these issues and sets out some of the philosophies which guide humanitarian aid efforts today. It also gives an account of the work being done by the European Community, not just at the Commission headguarters in Brussels or at the European Parliament in Strasbourg but in different parts of the field, and by some of the organisations with which the Community works.
The European Community provides humanitarian aid in two forms, food and finance. Food aid is financed from its annual budget, whoever the recipients are. Emergency and refugee aid are financed from the European Development Fund for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States which have signed the Lomonvention, or, for other countries, from the annual EC budget. Humanitarian aid for Central and Eastern Europe is also financed from the annual budget.
The Community gives over half its food aid to food-deficit countries for sale, normally to help encourage positive local food production policies. Substantial quantities are also given free to vulnerable, low-income groups, such as young children, mothers, pregnant women, schoolchildren, sick or handicapped people, the elderly and refugees. This type of aid is normally channelled through international agencies - a big agency such as the World Food Programme regularly distributes over 200 000 tonnes of EC cereals aid a year - or NGOs, which in recent years have themselves distributed as much as 200 000 tonnes of Community products a year.
In an unforeseen crisis situation, where famine, or an imminent danger of famine, poses a serious threat to lives or health, the Commission can also send emergency food aid. Under this procedure, decision, procurement and delivery times are cut and the EC pays transport costs up to the final destination - a valuable contribution, as these can be two or three times the original cost of the food transported.
In 1991, the last complete year for which figures are available, over 600 000 tonnes of such aid were provided, including a Special Programme for Africa; this was a much higher proportion of the food aid effort (totalling nearly 1.6 million tonnes) than the 10% normally given as emergency food aid. The total value of food aid supplied in 1991 was ECU 657 million, including ECU 140 million for the Special Programme. The bulk of the aid was in the form of cereals, plus milk-powder, vegetable oil, sugar, butter oil and other products.
In 1992, Parliament and Council adopted a special food aid programme worth ECU 22 million for the developing countries hardest hit by drought and civil war. The bulk of this aid is intended for the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa and is now being delivered.
The Community grants emergency aid to victims of natural and man-made disasters in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and to other non-Community countries, largely in central and eastern Europe. This type of aid comes from two different sources. The European Development Fund or EDF is used to help disaster victims in the ACP States and the overseas countries and territories associated with the Community (these include the Netherlands Antilles, the British Virgin Islands, French Polynesia and others), while funds for those in developing and other third countries come from the general EC budget.
Emergency aid is defined in Article 254 of the Fourth Lomonvention as follows:
'Emergency assistance shall be accorded to ACP States faced with serious economic and social difficulties of an exceptional nature resulting from natural disasters or extraordinary circumstances having comparable effects. The assistance, which is intended to make, by the most suitable means, a real contribution to remedying the immediate difficulties: (a) shall be sufficiently flexible to take any form adapted to the circumstances, including the supply of a wide range of relief goods and services and/or the distribution of cash to victims; (b) may also cover the financing of immediate measures to make damaged structures and equipment operational again and to ensure minimum viability; (c) shall be non-reimbursable and made available quickly and easily.'
In 1991, the Commission, which manages such aid on behalf of the Community, made grants totalling ECU 189 020 000 to help disaster victims. This comprised ECU 55 945 000 from the EDF and ECU 133 075 000 from the EC's general budget for 1991. The second of these amounts included ECU 8 million to Yugoslavia from the PHARE programme for central and eastern Europe and ECU 300 000 from PHARE to Romania, as well as ECU 4 million carried forward from 1990.
Substantial assistance from the European Development Fund continued to be needed for victims of conflict and drought in Africa. More than ECU 49 million, or 88% of the total emergency aid available under the EDF, were allocated to victims of a combination of both in six countries and the regions bordering them, with ECU 15.5 million going to the Sudan, ECU 11.2 million to Somalia, ECU 9.3 million to Liberia, ECU 7.7 million to Ethiopia, ECU 3.4 million to Mozambique and ECU 3 million to Angola. The rest of the funds available were used for operations in other African countries, Papua-New Guinea and Haiti.
An additional appropriation of ECU 100 million was allocated to the relevant item of the 1991 budget by the Council decision to assist displaced and refugee Iraqis. Together with ECU 4 million carried forward from 1990, ECU 107.5 million (of which ECU 6 million was for emergency food aid) went to dealing with the effects of the Gulf crisis.
With these funds the Community financed an airlift involving 330 aeroplanes and supplied some 1.5 million blankets, 64 000 tents and nearly 60 000 tonnes of food. In addition to using its traditional UN, Red Cross and NGO partners, the Commission took direct action of its own and was involved in operations carried out by the Member States.
Other operations under the 1991 budget included emergency aid to those affected by events in the former Soviet Union (ECU 5 million) and Albania (ECU 2.5 million) and by the conflict in Yugoslavia (ECU 13 million). Emergency aid was also sent to victims of cholera in South America, notably Peru (ECU 1.775 million), of cyclones and floods in Bangladesh (ECU 2.4 million), of the eruption of a volcano in the Philippines (ECU 0.9 million) and of earthquakes in Peru (ECU 0.225 million), Afghanistan and Pakistan (ECU 0.5 million), Costa Rica and Panama (ECU 0.25 million) and Guatemala (ECU 0.2 million).
The emergency aid funds were used to finance medical and sanitation programmes and to provide shelter, food, clothing, transport and other essentials for the populations concerned. The work was carried out by specialised international and nongovernmental organisations, both European and local, as well as by the governments of the Member States and the Commission itself.
Of the ECU 189 million which the Commission decided to allocate to emergency aid in 1991, more than ECU 186 million was spent on a total of 354 contracted operations. By far the largest share of emergency aid funds was channelled through non-governmental organisations.
The Commission's emergency aid operations were closely coordinated with those of the Member States, by means of meetings and exchanges of information. The Member States for their part made nearly ECU 697 million available for emergency aid schemes in 1991.
Community aid to refugees, returnees and displaced persons throughout the world, mostly in Asia, Africa and Central America, accounts for about two fifths of its total humanitarian aid. In fact the EC and its Member States are the largest contributors (35% to 40% on average) to the relief programmes of the United Nations agencies with special responsibility for refugees, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The Community's average level of assistance to refugees and the displaced has been about ECU 190-220 million a year since 1988.
The main purpose of the funds is to finance the medium-term assistance required to encourage self-sufficiency between the emergency phase (exodus, arrival in camps) and final settlement (full integration in the country or region of asylum or reintegration in the place of origin). Half of the Community's aid to refugees from 1984 to 1989 was devoted to Africa's then four million refugees (and possibly as many displaced persons), the numbers of whom have since grown dramatically owing to the fighting in the Horn of Africa and Sudan, the persistence of guerrilla warfare in Angola and Mozambique, the drought in parts of Eastern and Southern Africa and the civil war in Liberia.
Outside the ACP and other developing countries, the EC has also been involved, since the withdrawal of the Soviet presence in 1989, in providing long-term economic aid to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe under the 'PHARE' programme. Since 1991, 10% of the PHARE budget has been available for use as humanitarian aid, to help those in severe distress because of economic hardship. Total EC humanitarian aid to the countries concerned decided on in 1990-91 came to ECU 113 million, including ECU 27 million in emergency aid.
United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs
Whenever countries are struck by natural disasters or other emergencies, to quote the words of a recent UN General Assembly resolution on emergency humanitarian assistance: 'The United Nations has a central and unique role to play in providing leadership and coordinating the efforts of the international community to support the affected countries'. The UN has several agencies involved in humanitarian relief work, notably UNICEF for child health matters, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organisation to deal with epidemics and the World Food Programme for food distribution. In 1990, 10.5% of emergency aid provided by the European Community went to these agencies. Now the world body has set up a single department to coordinate their efforts, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, as the senior UN official in charge of it explains.
The world of the 1990s is a world of turbulent change. In the new world that has emerged at the end of the cold war, ethnic and civil conflicts have dominated the international scene and humanitarian issues have increasingly become the focus of special attention.
Many societies are torn between demands for autonomy or self-determination and face the danger of fragmentation, what the United Nations Secretary-General has termed 'micro-nationalism'. The already fragile structures in a large number of developing countries are being severely tested by the vicious cycle of poverty, population pressure and environmental degradation. More than one billion people today face abject poverty, with over 500 million, or roughly 10% of the world population, undernourished and some 50 million facing famine. Poverty is accelerating environmental degradation to such an extent that natural resources soon may not be able to meet the food required for the world's fast-growing population. I With 97 million people being added to the world population each year, the disintegration of fragile structures and environmental phenomena are causing increased displacement and refugee flows. More and more people across the globe require urgent humanitarian assistance.
The international community has an obligation to provide humanitarian assistance to all the affected populations regardless of political or other considerations. Recent experience has shown that this is not an easy undertaking. We have seen how international relief efforts have been impeded by serious threats to the security of relief personnel both in the case of the former Yugoslavia and in Somalia. We have also seen how access to the affected populations is denied in conflict situations such as those in Sudan and in Mozambique. These situations affirm the inextricable link between the security, political and humanitarian issues. Given the wide range of actors and the complexity of the problems, clear leadership and strengthened coordination of effort have become increasingly important. This requires an intensified and innovative response from the United Nations system as well as full support and commitment from all partners in this challenging endeavour.
In 1991, Member States held a pioneering debate on the capacity of the United Nations to coordinate humanitarian assistance. These deliberations, and a subsequent report of the Secretary-General on the subject, provided the basic elements for resolution 46/182, adopted by the General Assembly on 19 December 1991. This in turn led to the establishment by the Secretary-General, in March 1992, of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs.
Resolution 46/182 constitutes the programmatic framework for the new Department. The work of the office is based on four guiding principles, which are: 1) at all times, UN humanitarian assistance shall be provided in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality; 2) the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States will be fully respected; 3) assistance will be provided with the consent of the affected country and, in principle, on the basis of a request from that country and; 4) each State has the responsibility first and foremost to take care of the victims of natural disasters and other emergencies occurring on its territory. Hence, the affected State has the primary role in the initiation, organisation, coordination and implementation of humanitarian assistance within its territory.
The emphasis in the work of the Department is on coordination, cooperation and leadership. Its main function is to enhance the leadership role of the Secretary-General in dealing with natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies and excludes any operational responsibilities. Resolution 46/182 provides specific suggestions as to how the coordination of humanitarian assistance should be carried out. Measures for prevention and preparedness of disasters are to be achieved through coordinated support and the optimal utilisation of an Inter-agency Standing Committee, a process of common assessment and consolidated appeals, a central emergency revolving fund and a register of stand-by capacities.
A notable new development in terms of the humanitarian role of the United Nations has been the active involvement of the Security Council in the consideration of humanitarian issues and the provision of assistance. This is reflected in decisions in regard to Cambodia, Iraq, Somalia and the former Yugoslavia. In the cases of Yugoslavia and Somalia, in particular, the Council has accorded the secure delivery of humanitarian assistance a very high priority.
The few months since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 46/182 and the emplacement of the institutions and mechanisms for its implementation have provided a first, albeit a very initial, opportunity to evaluate the United Nations' humanitarian role.
Firstly, while humanitarian assistance must be provided regardless of whether there is an immediate solution at hand, the United Nations has been increasingly called upon to address simultaneously both the humanitarian and the political dimensions of conflict situations. Somalia, Yugoslavia, and Mozambique are cases in point. Humanitarian assistance, delivered impartially, can have a positive impact on peace-making efforts. Corridors of peace and zones of tranquillity can reinforce peace-making initiatives.
Secondly, the United Nations is required in an increasing number of emergencies to negotiate not only access, but also arrangements to ensure the safety of personnel and relief supplies. The situations in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia and Iraq are tragic reminders of this dilemma.
Thirdly, the serious problem of land mines, millions of which remain scattered in current and former combat zones, must be urgently addressed. Relief assistance, repatriation and rehabilitation have been and will continue to be seriously hampered unless de-mining is vigorously pursued.
Fourthly, cooperation among operational organisations is essential for effective UN response to disasters and emergencies. This cooperation must be all-inclusive, applying equally to the relationship among the UN organisations and with the ICRC, IFRC, IOM and the NGOs. Cooperation must also be extended to and strengthened with the relevant regional organisations.
Lastly, while the UN stands ready to meet growing challenges in response to emergencies of increasing magnitude and complexity, the UN must be provided with the necessary resources to carry out the tasks entrusted to it. This applies not only to the immediate humanitarian requirements, but also to rehabilitation and development. Resources should be mobilised to prevent emergencies from recurring.
I am all too well aware of the need for the United Nations to be at the same time at the forefront of international humanitarian action and to proceed on the basis of the hard-won consensus that characterised resolution 46/182. I believe the only appropriate path is to convince governments and peoples alike that humanitarian action is in their best interest. We must clearly and compellingly demonstrate that humanitarian assistance will be incorporated in the overall continuum from emergency relief to rehabilitation and development.
To be truly effective, our endeavour should be founded upon cooperation not coercion, upon a shared responsibility and mutual respect. The safety of humanitarian personnel ought once more to be assured as an indispensable element of their mission. The force necessary to guarantee this objective and to protect humanitarian resources should be seen as geared solely to these ends and must be sufficient to achieve them. Humanitarian assistance must place human dignity and well-being as its sole criterion for success. It must express solidarity in action.
by Dawit GIORGIS
The author is a specialist on the practical aspects of humanitarian aid who currently works under the aegis of the UN Development Programme in Namibia as senior UN advisor on the drought emergency, and headed the UN special relief programme in Angola for over a year. Before that he worked in the Sudan emergency operation and in the United States of America as a project analyst on homelessness and abandoned children. Between 1983 and 1986 he served as Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner responsible for the entire relief operation in Ethiopia at a time of serious drought, famine and military conflict in the Horn of Africa.
Dr Giorgis's experiences in the fields of poverty, famine and emergency operations supplied the material for 'Red Tears' *, a book which three years ago provoked a great deal of discussion about the effectiveness and appropriateness of international humanitarian aid. Here he looks at the subject in the light of developments since that time. The views expressed are his own, not those of the UN.
The relationship between donors and recipients has been discussed frequently. This relationship becomes very crucial in times of national and man-made calamities, when the lives of millions depend on communication and cooperation between the potential giver and receiver.
Disaster management involves two parties, the donor and the recipient. It is the level of understanding and harmony that exists between these two parties that eventually determines the success or failure of all´emergency programmes. In the final analysis it is the reaction of people and governments that creates the conditions for a disaster. With preparedness, coordination and effective response, most disasters can be prevented or mitigated. The major responsibility and concern of disaster-affected countries is to build the local human and institutional capacity to plan for disaster and, when the alarm sounds, to implement a well-conceived response for which the appropriate preparations have been made in advance. Without the capacity to mobilise national and international resources and to manage the crisis it would be impossible to develop an effective plan for response. The lack of resources and management capacity have been major constraints in handling emergency situations in many African countries. This is compounded by political instability and internal conflicts. Disaster management fails mostly because of these reasons. In the last few years the burden on Africa, in terms of coping with the ever-increasing cases of disasters, has been shared by the developed countries and we have therefore been able to witness the increasing involvement of the international community in humanitarian assistance.
During 1992 the UN, the EEC and other multinational organisations have made, on behalf of the victims, unprecedented and historical decisions to intervene in disaster-affected countries, sometimes in a highly volatile and politically charged atmosphere. It would be difficult to imagine what would have happened in Ethiopia in 1984-86, in the Sudan in 1987, and currently in Liberia, Somalia and Mozambique and many other African countries, had the international community not decided to intervene and respond generously. Certainly, millions would have perished and some countries, as we know them today, might have ceased to exist. Given this positive evolution of the role of the international community in times of emergency it would be appropriate to take stock of all the achievements and begin to ask how many more lives would have been saved by the international community had it responded in good time and more effectively'
In 1974 Henry Kissinger, then US Secretary of State, addressing the World Food Council Conference, boldly stated that no child would go hungry, and that the world would not see any more emaciated and malnourished human beings at the end of the decade. Ten years later in 1984 these promises turned into ashes right before our eyes as the world witnessed once again the death and suffering of millions of starving people in Ethiopia. The world promised again in 1984 that such famines should not be allowed to take place in a world glutted with food. The situation in Ethiopia, in the Sudan and Somalia persisted and today, eight years later, the world has watched the crisis in Somalia developing into a disaster resulting in the death of hundreds every day. The death and suffering of millions in Africa continues unabated because the world failed to provide them in a timely manner with the means of survival. When it decided to intervene in a manner that the situation warranted it was already too late for many. It is not the lack of generosity or sympathy with the cause of the deprived that is the major problem. It is rather the political will and determination, the delivery system and the identification of needs and priorities that is at fault.
Donor countries must demonstrate greater awareness and concern in responding to emergency situations. A lot has been said about what recipient countries should do but less has been said about donor governments and aid agencies. Preparedness for disaster is a two-way street. An international appeal as a result of an impending or real catastrophe should trigger immediate reaction from donor countries. Preparedness also implies the parallel need for donor governments and agencies to set up an emergency response system. Since the 1984-85 experience in Ethiopia the situation has not changed much as regards the speed and timeliness of response by the international community. It still takes at least three months for food shipments to arrive in any sub-Saharan ports after decisions have been made to intervene. Even after donor governments commit themselves to donate needed supplies, the regular bureaucracy to process the delivery of the commodities takes too long a time. There is a lack of an objective assessment of the needs and priorities, and when the aid finally arrives at the ports it often creates logistical nightmares. The donors ship the relief supplies and assume that the rest will be handled by the recipient country. The capacity of the ports and lack of adequate transport facilities hinder smooth and efficient off-take and movement of aid to where it is needed. Because of the inadequacy of the roads, journey times between locations are excessive by normal standards. Journeys which can be undertaken within one or two days in more developed countries will frequently take a week or more in the areas covered by the secondary roads and, during the rains, are impossible even to attempt.
Under these difficult infrastructural conditions, which are unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future in many parts of Africa, it is essential to:
a) assist recipient countries in building and strengthening capacities, and
b) maintain adequate supplies of food and other relief supplies at strategic locations throughout the continent to ensure their availability in times of distress.
Ten countries of Southern Africa are currently struck by the worst drought of the century. The alarm was sounded at the beginning of the year. Needs assessment missions were sent by FAD/WFP in the month of April. Donor conferences were held in Geneva in the month of June, where impressive pledges were made covering almost 3/4 of the entire emergency request. As of the beginning of October, of their total requirement of 14.26 million tonnes of food, (most of which would be covered by imports and local stock) the SADCC countries requested 4.4 million tonnes of humanitarian assistance. Of this only 824000 tonnes of food aid has been delivered. Ten months after the early warning report, six months after the needs assessment reports were prepared and circulated and four months after donors made pledges, the international humanitarian response is less than 20% of the emergency request of the region.
Zimbabwe is one of the most severely affected, with close to five million people on the verge of starvation, and of its total need of 2.8 million tonnes of food aid it has received only 62 000 tonnes as of the beginning of October. Of its total need of 388000 tonnes Botswana has received 8 000 tonnes and of its total needs of 1 7 1000 tonnes Namibia has received only 6 000 tonnes of humanitarian food aid. This clearly shows that there is something wrong in the response capacity and system, and in the political will and commitment of donor countries. Such delay of disbursement of aid already pledged is as good as denial of aid since it would be too late for many.
Both acute and long-term disasters in Africa underline problems of poverty and development in which there is often an emergency or crisis. Needs assessment under these circumstances is usually characterised by time constraints, resource restriction (e.g. logistics) and data limitations, especially base line information. Information is needed at different points in the chain of disaster response. Donors need to have basic information on need in order to make an initial commitment. In many cases, however there has never been an agreement between donors and recipients on the requirements of the recipient country. Donors insist on assurances that their funds are utilised properly. In most cases local needs assessment is not considered credible. Donors are wary about relying on information gathered by recipient countries as a basis for their decisions. Therefore aid agencies and multinational Organisations feel compelled to gather their own information, usually resulting in conflicting figures, assessments and response strategies. In Ethiopia in 198485 the FAO estimate of need was 250 000 tonnes of food while the government estimate was 900 000. Other aid agencies came up with a figure of 400 000 tonnes. Only when the famine started taking its toll in the hundreds by the day, was a consensus reached among aid agencies that the need was actually greater than they had estimated.
It is not always the lack of information on the types and quantities of needs that causes problems in response. Sometimes undesirable foodstuffs ant other commodities end up in poor countries in the name of humanitarian assistance. Some; times humanitarian assistance is provided from the donor's surplus stocks, usually of wheat.
In Ethiopia thousands of tonnes of rice, canned meat, canned fruit and prepared food were brought in for people who are extremely conservative in their eating habits and who do not even have the know-how or the tools to open and eat these types of processed foods. Faced with this dilemma the recipient aid agencies were obliged to sell these foodstuffs and use the money to purchase needed relief supplies. These were the results of a spontaneous response conducted without any consideration of the traditions, religion and eating habits of the populations affected. Just because people are poor and hungry it does not always mean that they will eat or take whatever they get. Certainly it was not the case in Ethiopia. Donors and NGOs will have to take a more responsible role in this aspect.
Needs vary depending on the kind of disaster. In Angola the United Nations launched a special relief programme in 1991. Eight hundred thousand people were internally displaced and over three hundred thousand people made refugees
Most responses to disaster concentrate on immediate needs alone and tend to fail to address vulnerabilities. Needs are immediate requirements for survival but vulnerabilities refer to factors which affect the ability of communities to cope with crises. In sudden onset disasters such as volcanoes, earthquakes and floods, the immediate needs are shelter, medical care, clothing, reconstruction etc. Vulnerability deals with all the factors which have directly and indirectly contributed to the suffering caused by these disasters. Appropriate construction methods, facilities, public services, creating and strengthening capacities are all measures that could reduce vulnerability from such specific disasters. People become helpless victims of disaster because they are poor and vulnerable. The question that should be posed is, therefore, not just what the emergency relief needs are but how they might be met in ways that will reduce vulnerability and contribute to development in the long term.
In cases of famine the immediate need is food and medical care. But unless the underlying causes that contribute to the severity of the disaster and impede effective response are removed, there will always be shortages of food production, resulting in famine, malnourishment and continuous appeals for humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian assistance must be complimented with funds and programmes to strengthen existing local capacities and to create new ones to cope with crises. Some of the long-term vulnerabilities in a famine situation might include soil degradation, water table depletion, lack of land use policies, and poor communication and transport facilities. Ethiopia has 120 900 square km of surface water, 14 major lakes which are full even during the drought period. It is a recorded fact that in 1984-85, thousands of people living in some of these areas died of starvation. Humanitarian assistance should not simply address the issues of survival in such situations but provide assistance to enable people to use the available water and be self-sufficient. If this had been done we would not have seen the continuing human crisis in Ethiopia. Humanitarian assistance programmes which do not address these fundamental issues will always fail. They might succeed in solving the immediate needs of saving lives but will definitely fail in the greater objective of preventing these disasters from recurring.
As unemployment and under employment become major issues in disaster-affected countries, ways in which more employment could be generated using drought-related resources deserve consideration. The priorities should be labour-intensive investment projects which will generate long-term employment. Some options observed in some of the African countries are the construction of roads, building dams, soil conservation, reafforestation, water conservation projects, building of schools and clinics. Donors and recipients need continuous and serious dialogue on ways of promoting development and capacity building while carrying out relief.
To see how the world has gradually slipped from humanitarian assistance into what is often very uneasy democratic interference, we looked at Bernard Kouchner's book 'Le Malheur des Autres' (Other people's misfortune), published by Odile Jacob in Paris in 1991.
The writer, the doctor who founded Mcins sans Frontis and Mcins du Monde, was the French Government's State Secretary for Humanitarian Relief and is now Minister of Health and Humanitarian Relief.
Kouchner spent 20 years providing humanitarian relief in the midst of conflicts in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, from Biafra in 1968 to Liberia in 1991, 'in the kind of places where people shoot first and then stretch out on the ground to die, crying for their mothers at the very moment when they have just killed their own neighbour's mother'.
His book, like everything else he has done, is a plea 'against the antiquated theory of national sovereignty hallowed as a defence for massacring people'. And now that intervention, which he believes to be a duty and in some circumstances a right, has become legally accepted international practice, he welcomes the fact that 'human suffering is no longer a silent by-product of politics and sovereignty, for countries have started taking other people's misfortune into account'.
This made its first official appearance in 1987 at a Mcins du Monde-Paris-Sud Law Faculty conference. 'We had to leave ethics and target setting and fraternal international practice behind us and go boldy forward, "manufacturing law" on the legal terrain.'
On 8 December 1988, the then State Secretary, on behalf of France, tabled Resolution 45/131 in the UN General Assembly, laying down a right of access to provide 'Humanitarian assistance to victims of disasters and similar emergency situations'. It was adopted unanimously.
The following day, 9 December, the USSR opened its doors to international aid for the first time - for the earthquake in Armenia. The following year, it was Lebanon, Sudan, Liberia and Romania.
The UN's first official humanitarian intervention was to help Kurds on Iraqi soil. 'Interference had at last won the right to exist as a means of conducting politics.'
None of this would have been possible had the UN Security Council not adopted Resolution No 688 of 5 April 1991, enshrining the right to humanitarian relief, recognising that the natural right of man came before the right of States and authorising a humanitarian force to move into sovereign territory to save lives.
The international community thereby asserted a right to take a humanitarian interest inside national boundaries - 'placing genuine curbs on a sovereignty which empowered a country to kill its own nationals. A code of ethics without frontiers was emerging.'
Interference - a right or a duty ?
Can the duty to intervene become a right? Yes, it can, maintains Bernard Kouchner, provided it takes place under the banner of neutral, impartial organisations.
UN General Assembly resolutions 43/ 131 and 45/100 only provide for external assistance where the State to which the territory belongs cannot (or will not) provide the relief itself and the distressed populations can only survive with outside help.
What about the danger of military escalation? The right to intervene, Dr Kouchner maintains, does not mean using troops and the threat of armed intervention must only be used in the name of human rights as a last resort.
Since this book came out, humanitarian interference has gained ground, particularly in Somalia and what was Yugoslavia, and this dossier takes stock of it.
As the Kurdish leader Talabani put it: 'Politicians invent things, lawyers just take photographs.' Meanwhile, the international humanitarian movement has gone on working, going beyond States and policies, in the name of civil society. And since things are always out of hand somewhere, there are people who sit back and complain that humanitarian interference is an excuse for failing to carry out direct military intervention. In the Le Monde 'Images' column on 12 September 1992, Daniel Schneiderman talked about a television report on Bernard Kouchner's work in Somalia: 'In the middle of the programme, on came Bernard Kouchner, in a bottle-green safari suit, with dying children all around him. He was on his knees, his hands stretched out to an empty sky or stroking the little bodies for which all hope was gone. He shouted. He harangued us. He harangued the whole world, people going on holiday, people lying on their sofas watching the Olympic Games and people who could not care less about Somalia or have got it tucked away in a little mental drawer which they can open and shut as they like - very handy, that. «None of these children even has a sheet to be buried in," he shouted.
'We could only sit trembling there on the settee, looking at him kneeling in the dust. Shame is a chilly emotion.
'It makes you shiver. We wanted to rebel and shout back: «And what about you?" And what about you, Minister? Don't you have a child at school in a nice part of town? Don't you have a holiday home on a nice beach somewhere? Yes, but he was down there in Somalia repeating absurd, pointless gestures, knowing it was a waste of time, digging the desert up with a teaspoon. We were not. And all we could do was keep quiet. Keep quiet and weep.'
GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS
Resolution no. 43/131 of X December 1990
Humanitarian assistance to victims of disasters and similar emergency situations
The General Assembly
Recalling that one of the purposes of the United Nations is to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion,
Reaffirming the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States, and recognizing that it is up to each State first and foremost to take care of the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations occurring on its territory,
Deeply concerned about the suffering of the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations, the loss in human lives, the destruction of property and the mass displacement of populations that result from them,
Bearing in mind that natural disasters and similar emergency situations have grave consequences for the economic and social plans of all countries concerned,
Desiring that the international community should respond speedily and effectively to appeals for emergency humanitarian assistance made in particular through the Secretary-General.
Mindful of the importance of humanitarian assistance for the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations,
Recognizing that the international community makes an important contribution to the sustenance and protection of such victims, whose health and life may be seriously endangered,
Considering that the abandonment of the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations without humanitarian assistance constitutes a threat to human life and an offence to human dignity,
Concerned about the difficulties that victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations may experience in: receiving humanitarian :assistance,
Convinced that, in providing humanitarian assistance in particular the supply of food, medicines or health care, for which access to victims is essential, rapid relief will avoid a tragic increase in their number,
Aware that alongside the action of Governments and intergovernmental organizations, the speed and efficiency of l this assistance often depends on the help and aid of local and non-governmental organizations working with strictly humanitarian motives,
Recalling that, in the event of natural disasters and similar emergency situations, the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality must be given utmost consideration by all those involved in providing humanitarian assistance,
1. Reaffirms the importance of humanitarian assistance for the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations;
2. Reaffirms also the sovereignty of affected States and their primary role in the initiation, organization, coordination and implementation of humanitarian assistance within their respective territories;
3. Stresses the important contribution made in providing humanitarian assistance by intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations working with strictly humanitarian motives;
4. Invites all States in need of such assistance to facilitate the work of these organizations in implementing humanitarian assistance, in particular the supply of food, medicines and health care, for which access to victims is essential;
5. Appeals, therefore, to all States to give their support to these organizations working to provide humanitarian assistance, where needed, to the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations;
6. Urges States in proximity to areas of natural disasters and similar emergency situations, particularly in the case of regions that are difficult to reach, to participate closely with the affected countries in international efforts with a view to facilitating, to the extent possible, the transit of humanitarian assistance;
7. Calls upon all the intergovernmental, governmental and non-governmental organizations dealing with humanitarian assistance to co-operate as closely as possible with the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Co-ordinator or any other ad hoc mechanism set up by the Secretary-General in the coordination of aid;
8. Requests the Secretary-General to seek the views of Governments, intergovernmental, governmental and nongovernmental organizations with regard to the possibility of enhancing the effectiveness of international mechanisms and increasing the speed of assistance in the best possible conditions for the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations, where needed, and to report his findings to the General Assembly at its forty-fifth session;
9. Decides to consider this question at its forty-fifth session.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS
Resolution no. 45/100 of 14 December 1990
Humanitarian assistance to victims of disasters and similar emergency situations
The General Assembly
Recalling its resolution 43/131 of 8 December 1988,
Recalling that one of the principles of the United Nations is to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion,
Reaffirming the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States, and recognizing that it is up to each State first and foremost to take care of the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations occurring on its territory,
Deeply concerned about the suffering of the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations, the loss in human lives, the destruction of property and the mass displacement of populations that results from them,
Concerned about the fate of persons who, following such displacement, are in an extremely precarious situation, particularly in a country other than that of which they are nationals,
Considering that the abandonment of the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations without humanitarian assistance constitutes a threat to human life and an offence to human dignity,
Strongly desiring that the international community should respond speedily and effectively to the needs for emergency humanitarian assistance expressed in particular through the Secretary-General,
Concerned about the difficulties and obstacles that victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations may encounter in receiving humanitarian assistance,
Convinced that, in providing humanitarian assistance, in particular the supply of food, medicines or health care, for which access to victims is essential, rapid relief will avoid a tragic increase in the number of victims,
Recalling in this regard, the Cairo Declaration adopted by the World Food Council at its fifteenth session, proposing, inter alia, an international agreement on the transport of emergency food aid,
Aware that alongside the action of Governments and intergovernmental organizations, the speed and efficiency of this assistance often depend on the help and aid of local and non-governmental organizations working in an impartial manner and with strictly humanitarian motives,
Reaffirming the need for the intergovernmental, governmental and non-governmental organizations dealing with humanitarian assistance to co-operate as closely as possible with the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator or any ad hoc mechanism set up by the Secretary-General in the co-ordination of aid,
Concerned about the effectiveness of such assistance' which requires an accurate evaluation of needs, efficient preparation of actions and effective co-ordination in conducting them,
Recalling that, in the event of natural disasters and similar emergency situations, the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality must be given utmost consideration by all those involved in providing humanitarian assistance,
1. Reaffirms the cardinal importance of humanitarian assistance for the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations;
2. Reaffirms also the sovereignty of affected States and their primary role in the initiation, organization, co-ordination and implementation of humanitarian assistance within their respective territories;
3. Stresses the important contribution made in providing humanitarian assistance by intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations working impartially and with strictly humanitarian motives;
4. Invites all States whose populations are in need of such assistance to facilitate the work of these organizations in implementing humanitarian assistance, in particular the supply of food, medicines and health care, for which access to victims is essential;
5. Appeals, therefore, to all States to give their support to these organizations working to provide humanitarian assistance where needed, to the victims of natural disasters and similar emergency situations;
6. Notes with satisfaction the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 43/131 and the suggestions which he makes concerning means of facilitating humanitarian assistance operations, in particular the possibility of establishing, on a temporary basis, where needed, and by means of concerted action by affected Governments and the Governments and intergovernmental, governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned, relief corridors for the distribution of emergency medical and food aid;
7. Urges States in proximity to areas of natural disasters and similar emergency situations, particularly in the case of regions that are difficult to reach, to participate closely with the affected countries in international efforts with a view to facilitating, to the extent possible, the transit of humanitarian assistance;
8. Requests the Secretary-General to pursue, within existing resources, the necessary consultations with Governments and intergovernmental, governmental and non-governmental organizations with a view to determining means of facilitating the delivery of appropriate humanitarian assistance to the victims of natural disasters or similar emergency situations, including the establishment of relief corridors, on the basis of the report of the Secretary-General and on the terms set out in paragraph 6 of the present resolution, and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its forty-seventh session;
9. Invites the Secretary-General to study, within existing resources, the possibility of preparing, on the basis of information furnished by Governments and the relevant governmental and non-governmental international organizations and taking into account the work already done in this area by the United Nations, in particular by the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Co-ordinator, an indicative list of persons and bodies with expert knowledge of the delivery and management of emergency humanitarian assistance whom the United Nations could call upon, with the consent of the States concerned, to make an accurate and speedy assessment of the needs and a realistic determination of the best means of delivering the aid;
10. Decides to consider this question at its forty-seventh
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Resolution no. 688 of 5 April 1991
The Security Council,
Mindful of its duties and its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security,
Recalling Article 2, paragraph 7, of the Charter of the United Nations,
Gravely concerned by the repression of the Iraqi civilian population in many parts of Iraq, including most recently in Kurdish populated areas which led to a massive flow of refugees towards and across international frontiers and to cross-border incursions, which threaten international peace and security in the region,
Deeply disturbed by the magnitude of the human suffering involved,
Taking note of the letters sent by the representatives of Turkey and France to the United Nations dated 2 April 1991 and 4 April 1991, respectively (S/22435 and S/22442),
Taking note of the letters sent by the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations dated 3 and 4 April 1991, respectively (S/22436 and S/22447),
Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Iraq and of all States in the area,
Bearing in mind the Secretary-General's report on 20 March 1991 (S/22366), Condemns the repression of the Iraqi civilian population in many parts of Iraq, including most recently in Kurdish populated areas, the consequences of which threaten international peace and security in the region;
2. Demands that Iraq, as a contribution to removing the threat to international peace and security in the region, immediately end this repression and expresses the hope in the same context that an open dialogue will take place to ensure that the human and political rights of all Iraqi citizens are respected;
3. Insists that Iraq allow immediate access by international humanitarian organizations to all those in need of assistance in all parts of Iraq and to make available all necessary facilities for their operations;
4. Requests the Secretary General to pursue his humanitarian efforts in Iraq and to report forthwith, if appropriate on the basis of a further mission to the region, on the plight of the Iraqi civilian population, and in particular the Kurdish population, suffering from the repression in all its forms inflicted by the Iraqi authorities;
5. Requests further the Secretary-General to use all the resources at his disposal, including those of the relevant United Nations agencies, to address urgently the critical needs of the refugees and displaced Iraqi population;
6. Appeals to all Member States and to all humanitarian organizations to contribute to these humanitarian relief efforts;
7. Demands that Iraq cooperate with the Secretary-General to these ends;
8. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
by Luise DRUKE *
One of the most important organisations operating in the humanitarian aid field is the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a fundraising agency headed by Mrs Sadako Ogata of Japan. The European Community and its Member States are the largest contributors to the UN's various refugee relief programmes, run by UNHCR and UNRWA (the UN's Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East); and in recent years, partly at the request of the European Parliament and ACP governments, the Community has substantially increased its assistance to refugees and displaced people. In this article a principal administrator at the Brussels office responsible for relations between UNHCR and the European Community institutions reviews the organisation's work.
Each year the demands on UNHCR are greater than the previous year, as it attempts to respond to the escalating number of international crises which continue to produce waves of new refugees and require the mobilisation of major international relief efforts, with an annual operational budget which exceeded US$1 billion last year. Whilst some regions of the world are experiencing a political healing process that has enabled the commencement of repatriation programmes such as those in Vietnam, Cambodia and Afghanistan, the outbreak of persecution combined with natural disasters has resulted in the appearance of new refugee populations elsewhere. The most conspicuous examples in this latter case are the desperate situations in the former Yugoslavia and in Somalia, which have produced around three million and one million refugees respectively in a matter of months.
Given the differing characteristics of individual refugee problems today, UNHCR has had to search for the most appropriate and effective manner in which to apply its mandate to each situation it encounters and to explore new strategies in order to ensure that persons in need of protection receive it. The High Commissioner, during the 1991 meeting of the Executive Committee, developed a three-pronged strategy to consist of:
- emergency preparedness and response;
- voluntary repatriation; and
- solutions through prevention.
This year, Mrs Ogata has submitted new concepts to the 1992 meeting of the Executive Committee, relating to:
- UNHCR's role in the country of origin for direct and indirect prevention; - solutions involving voluntary repatriation and regionally concerted arrangements, seeking out new directions in international cooperation for the protection of refugees.
The Horn of Africa and the republics of the former Yugoslavia are two of the regions absorbing much of UNHCR's attention, although southern Africa is also a major concern with the one million refugees in Mozambique and Malawi. Repatriation and reintegration programmes in Vietnam, Cambodia and Afghanistan are requiring a huge effort to ensure the safe and dignified return of millions of refugees previously forced out by persecution and civil war. In Latin America the CIREFCA (the International Conference on Central American Refugees) process is now under way as the restoration of peace to the region has facilitated the return of many thousands of displaced persons.
Material assistance programmes of emergency relief, local integration and repatriation, counselling and legal assistance continue to figure prominently in UNHCR's list of priorities in providing adequate protection to refugees, returnees and displaced persons around the world. However' UNHCR cannot afford to ignore the other essential role it is called upon to play in the field of international protection, which requires ensuring the maintenance of standards as defined in the international legal instruments relating to refugees.
Political and material support from the European Community, individual governments and NGOs is essential to the successful work of UNHCR, which is generally called upon to take the lead in coordinating international humanitarian relief efforts, in consultation with the UN Secretary-General's Department for Humanitarian Affairs in New York. Dependent on a limited subsidy from the regular budget of the United Nations and voluntary contributions from governments, NGOs and individuals, UNHCR's resources are barely sufficient to deal with the most urgent of today's refugee crises and therefore special and emergency operations require additional financing through appeals.
Cooperation with the European Community
The cooperation between UNHCR and the institutions of the European Community in recent years is evolving into a new partnership. Not only has the European Community been a strong advocate for human rights and humanitarian relief in its overseas development policy, but in purely financial terms the Community has increased its commitment to UNHCR from some $2 million a year in the late 1970s to almost $121 million in 1991, whilst continuing to support the work of the World Food Programme, UNRWA and the ICRC through the allocation of substantial sums of money for food aid and emergency relief, reaching a total of $1 billion since 1984 . The steady increase of EC humanitarian aid has been greatly fostered by the European parliament and ACP Governments which led, in the mid-1980s, to the introduction of a specific budget line for refugees and displaced persons.
UNHCR is involved in current discussions with institutions and Member States of the European Community in elaborating common asylum procedures for persons claiming to be refugees, and promoting a wider knowledge and understanding of internationally recognised principles for the treatment of refugees in Europe. This includes, inter alia, the promotion of a new concept of temporary protection to deal with the many individuals today temporarily displaced from their home countries by civil war but who do not require permanent refugee status. In the ACP countries, UNHCR is working with concerned governments and organisations on short-and long-term strategies.
Countries in Africa, Central America and Asia, many of which are ACP Member States - are in fact today the scenes of the major refugee problems. These are the regions where some 95% of the world's 17 million-plus refugees and an equal number of internally displaced persons are to be found. But it is also these regions which have shown the way in coming to grips with their refugee problems. The support of the European Community for the ACP countries and for those involved in these efforts, including UNHCR, has been a crucial factor.
As Mrs Ogata has said, there is no doubt that the world is at a crossroads. Will Europe, and in particular the European Community, help to bridge the abyss which now separates North from South? Will it and the rest of the industralised world have the courage to commit themselves politically and economically to attacking the severe poverty, underdevelopment and social injustice which lead to oppression, violence and displacement?
The path which we follow will create the kind of world we bestow on future generations.
A year ago, Save the Children, appalled by the suffering it was witnessing in many parts of the world but disturbed like many others by the inability of the international community to provide an adequate humanitarian response, called for major reforms to the international system. Hope of the 'peace dividend' end the 'new world order' had not entirely faded. Leaders at the G7 summit appeared to be searching for solutions and a new UN Secretary-General was about to be appointed.
Whilst pressure for reform was largely a result of the alarming and unprecedented emergencies of 1991, there were intimations of the major humanitarian crises that lay ahead as the tensions of the Cold War ended, leaving countries bound together by colonial cartographers and unrepresentative regimes to fall apart. Momentum for reform built up, culminating in the UN General Assembly Resolution of December 1991 on the 'Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian Emergency Assistance'. Its 'Guiding principles' - co-ordination, cooperation and leadership, prevention and preparedness - and the all-important recognition of the need to build the continuum from relief to rehabilitation to development into emergency response - could not be faulted. Many of the perennial points of failure were acknowledged: there were to be no more 'ad hoc' operations, a single, permanent emergency response agency was to be established, headed by a top-level coordinator with a direct line to the Secretary-General and a central emergency revolving fund for rapid response at his disposal. The explicit objective of the need not only to respond to emergencies when they occur but to find ways of addressing their root causes was also welcome.
A year on, the suffering has increased, with the demands of 1991 dwarfed by the catastrophes of 1992, and the carefully thought-through paragraphs of the UN Resolution revealed as tinkering with mechanisms which had already been proved not to work.
Four major issues remain unresolved, unaffected by the resolution. The first is the much debated issue of sovereignty and humanitarian intervention, the subject of a dozen erudite conferences, now exercising the Security Council. Whatever humanitarian intervention is, and the fact that it has been invoked as the rationale for interventions of a highly political sort suggests that there is a need for rigorous definition, its credibility depends on the consistency of its utilisation. Whilst the deliberations on definitions continue, it is clear that political attitudes towards governments, strategic priorities, intercultural factors and the shifting attentions of the media are still influential in shaping the international reaction to massive suffering.
During the last 18 months prevarication over Somalia has allowed an entire country to collapse and tens of thousands to die of starvation. Relief agencies on the ground predicted the impending disaster and recommended ways to prevent the current tragedy. In early 1991, at the very moment when infrastructures needed reinforcing, the UN withdrew its relief personnel for reasons of security. It then appeared to revert to the rule predating the new resolution, that it can only provide emergency relief at the invitation of a country's government. The language of the new resolution, reflecting much current thinking on this issue, allows the UN the necessary flexibility to provide humanitarian assistance in exceptional circumstances, such as civil wars, when such a request is not forthcoming. Many would question whether the unrecognised, self-appointed clan leaders in Mogadishu can be called the legitimate government. Whatever the reasons behind the prevarication, one can only conclude that Somalia did not come high on the Security Council's agenda.
Secondly, the question of mandates, despite the new resolution, remains un-clear. Apart from UNHCR and UNDRO, international emergency functions have been acquired by agencies like UNDP, FAO and WHO that have other demanding mandates, and have been extended for UNICEF. There are cogent reasons for specialised responses to emergencies but the machinery that exists is the product of historical accumulation and to date there is little to suggest that what happens on the ground has been improved by the 'co-ordination' provided by the new Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA).
The third major issue is resources. We get the United Nations we pay for. At a time when major additional responsibilities are thrust upon the UN almost weekly, tardiness in paying up membership dues, combined with the common practice of withholding payments for political reasons, has brought the UN to the brink of insolvency. The impossibility of paying for the increased peacekeeping role of the UN is currently of great concern. The cost of these operations is currently $3 billion per year, whereas global defence expenditures at the end of the last decade approached $1 trillion per year, or $2 million per minute. There is a recommendation that Member States make peace-keeping contributions from their defence rather than their foreign affairs budgets, but there is little evidence that governments are ready to commit resources commensurate with the growing requirements.
Throughout the Cold War, when strategic reasons for interference existed, the USSR and the USA were willing to flood Somalia with modern weaponry with the capability of destroying the entire civil infrastructure when internal instability resulted in conflict, but when it was desperately needed there was no equal humanitarian will to flood the country with food.
A case of equal concern to SCF is refugees and the displaced.
Large-scale movements of people away from degraded environments and conflict areas now rival classical famines in the scale of humanitarian emergencies. In ]951, when UNHCB was established, there were some 1.5 million refugees; by 1992 there were estimated to be 17 million, more than half of them children. Yet UNHCR's income was halved in real terms during the 1980s. Current programmes of refugee assistance fall far short of acceptable standards - not even the theoretical minimum daily nutritional requirement is provided in some refugee operations.
We are aware of the current attempts by the Secretary-General to streamline the organisation and his recent publication Agenda for Peace. Yet in this very document Boutros Boutros-Ghali himself states that in the area of peacemaking, as in so many others, the mechanisms - resolutions and declarations adopted by the General Assembly and a comprehensive list of means of resolving conflict in the UN Charter - already exist. 'If conflicts have gone unresolved, it is not because techniques for peaceful settlement were unknown or inadequate. The fault lies first in the lack of political will of parties to seek a solution to their differences through such means as are suggested in Chapter VI of the Charter, and second, in the lack of leverage at the disposal of a third party if this is the procedure chosen. The indifference of the international community to a problem; or the marginalisation of it, can also thwart the possibilities of solution.'
Thus, the fourth major issue is political will.
In all the areas of the world where it is involved with refugees, the displaced, children and their communities affected by famine and conflict, SCF works in close cooperation with the agencies of the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross, other non-governmental organisations and, wherever possible, national governments. We are among those who argue that the new DHA should be given time to work and the new 'cross-mandate approach' to refugee problems given the resources to make it work. We believe governments should support many of the recommendations of Agenda for Peace. And we shall do all we can to make them work. But we are no longer convinced they will.
Like Boutros Boutros-Ghali we believe that in many areas the inadequacies of the current framework do not arise from a lack of international mechanisms but from a failure to resource, implement and enforce the mechanisms which do exist. If these mechanisms do not work or work selectively the moral authority which is vested in the UN by the Charter is lost.
The current reforms cannot ensure that the questions of consistent humanitarian response, mandates and resources will be solved. We are facing a new set of circumstances in the post-Cold War era; today's intrastate conflicts pose graver humanitarian and political challenges for the international community than the more typical interstate conflicts of the past. These challenges have conceptual and political dimensions as well as operational and humanitarian dimensions. For all its good points, Agenda for Peace does not take up these challenges or contribute to the debate on the tensions between sovereignty and human rights and humanitarian access.
Unless these challenges are taken up the response by the international community is likely to get messier rather than more streamlined. This year SCF had the extremely mixed pleasure of announcing its highest ever annual income. Mixed because such a large part of that represented both the response of individual members of the public and that of the British government and the EC to emergencies rather than rehabilitation and long-term development. In attempting to meet the growing financial and institutional demands for humanitarian assistance, bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors are making increased use of NGOs in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. It is clear that unrealistic demands are now being made upon the UN, and other components of the international community must play a complementary role. But the foundation for this community to work effectively as a whole is a consistent, accountable and properly resourced United Nations.
As a bilateral donor of development and humanitarian assistance the European Community must be involved in the evolution of ways in which the international community can meet these new challenges. Already it is demonstrating its belief that many issues can only be tackled by international and supranational action. As a major provider of humanitarian aid the EC should be encouraging the necessary reforms of the current international system. Through its Member States the EC has considerable power on the Security Council, and can urge reform of that body. Can we continue to justify the exclusion of Germany and Japan, two of the wealthiest countries in the world?
Ironically, the recent and proposed reforms of the EC's own mechanisms for emergency relief, with the creation of ECHO, the European Community Humanitarian Office, are based on a very narrow definition of what constitutes an emergency, and could benefit from adopting the principles upon which the UN Resolution was based. We in Britain are hoping that during the UK Presidency this issue can be addressed, thus strengthening the EC's own position as it pushes for reform.
The media's job is to tell the full story, not to solve the problems by Mia DOORNAERT *
The first indication most ordinary people get that there is a humanitarian crisis somewhere in the world is when they hear about it on radio or television or see it in the newspaper. Worldwide satellite telecommunications and shortwave radio have brought home to people and their governments the seriousness and scale of the humanitarian emergencies affecting many parts of the world, and made them give thought to whether, and how, they should respond. This confers a heavy responsibility on the journalists reporting such stories. What part should they be playing?
Some years ago a United Nations official who was deeply involved in humanitarian relief work and cared passionately about it told me she thought journalists were 'terrible' people. Her main reproach was what she saw as 'the short, narrow attention span' of the press and media, the fact that 'they are only capable of being interested in one humanitarian problem at a time'. In the meantime, she said, 'the international aid and relief agencies have to find the resources to cope with a large number of refugee problems and disasters at the same time, and to do that we need the help of the media.'
Her understandable complaint, which was mainly directed at the worldwide or transnational media, raises a number of questions, one of which is the conflicting demands made upon the media. If they focus too heavily on what is 'pews', they are accused of being superficial or callous. If, on the other hand, there is an avalanche of disaster stories, many people worry that the effect on public opinion might be one of 'compassion fatigue' and a feeling of helplessness in the face of what seem recurring and insoluble problems.
A never-ending debate goes on between journalists and editors as to what constitutes 'news', and this is not the place to go into it. But it is true that a story does not become less of a 'news' item because it goes on for a long time. On the contrary, the longer a drought, famine or war lasts, the more severe the effects on the population will be in terms of economic hardship, deprivation, hunger and homelessness, and the more 'newsworthy' the story should be. Even if the public have a greater tendency than journalists to become 'accustomed' to even the worst horror stories, and even if editors take that into account, with an eye to the ratings or circulation figures, I do believe that journalists with the requisite knowledge, insight and talent will be able to convince their editors that the story is still worth telling, and will be able to make governments and the public sit up and take notice.
But it would be wrong to blame the media for the reaction - or lack of it - to emergencies from public opinion or governments. The task of journalists is to get the facts out and analyse them to the best of their ability. Neither the individual journalist nor the press and media as a whole have control over how the public react to their stories.
Getting the story
Getting as complete an account of the facts as possible is essential, even if it makes some people unhappy. To look at the dramatic famine situation in Somalia, there have been a number of stories on the callousness with which the war lords in that country carry on their squabbles and plunder relief convoys, while every day a thousand of their compatriots die because the relief supplies fail to reach them. There has been criticism to the effect that stories of this kind are not 'helpful', as they might discourage the public in the richer countries from providing more aid for Somalia.
I disagree: it is not the task of journalists to second-guess what the reaction to their reports will be; their job is to get the full story out.
What makes this especially important is that many disasters, refugee problems and so on are not inevitable, they are the result of human short-sightedness and human error, and it is important that this should be shown and explained. War correspondents, for instance, cannot limit their coverage of a civil war to listing how many rockets fall on Kabul or Sarajevo on a given day and how many deaths they cause. It is just as vital to report all the other humanitarian consequences, including the plight of the refugees thrown onto the streets. This is important because it is an integral part of the story and should therefore be told, and also because it might be the best way to prevent 'compassion fatigue'. If it is shown that a great many disasters are man-made, then it follows that remedies can be found by devising more sensible policies, and that there is no need to feel helpless, since something can be done to remedy the problem and prevent it from happening again.
The same applies to some natural disasters. The great Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun, one of the greatest historians of all times, wrote as early as the 14th century that many problems ascribed to nature, like the loss of arable land to the desert in Africa, were in fact man-made and due to man's failure to understand the intricacies of what was not yet, at the time, called the ecological system.
Even in the case of an Act of God like a drought, a hurricane or a flood, the effects on the population can be mitigated by timely warning or action. Crop failure, for instance, can be predicted and, if action is taken in time, governments and the international community can at least prevent it leading to famine.
For this to happen, it is important that the story should be told, and that the local press and media are able to play their part by reporting the facts and taking part in the debate about what should be done. It is not enough just to look at what is being put out by the major international media, because by the time they start reporting the consequences of crop failure in a particular country, it is already in a sense too late, meaning that those consequences will already have become so dire and dramatic that they 'deserve' world attention.
The importance of the work of local media and the press cannot be overestimated. It has been shown that in countries where extensive or comparative press freedom exists, like India or Kenya, famine as a result of crop failure has been prevented by timely warnings and action. In Ethiopia, on the other hand, millions of people suffered horribly because successive regimes, from misplaced nationalistic or ideological pride, would not admit in time that there was a problem, and refused to tolerate public debate about possible remedies.
This emphasis on the vital role of the local press and media raises, of course, the question of the political nature of the regime in countries confronted with humanitarian problems or disasters. Underlining this link has nothing to do with arrogance or 'wanting to impose Western structures'. If it can be demonstrated that millions of innocent men, women and children suffer and die because the lack of openness and transparency in the political structure of their country has prevented their being helped in time, then that is certainly an essential part of the story and it should be reported.
In humanitarian questions, as in others, problems can only be solved when they are known about and understood. In this, the task of the press and media is to help get the facts out and make sure they are understood. They cannot be blamed if, in doing so, they tread on sensitive political toes, or if the reaction of the international community is judged to be too slow or insufficient. To come back to the complaint of my friend at the United Nations, even if the press and media cannot carry daily reports on the all too many humanitarian problems the world faces, once the international community has been alerted to a problem it is also the task - and the duty - of governments, parliaments and international institutions to take action and to keep that action going. The media can be blamed if they do not do a good job of reporting on humanitarian problems, but they cannot be blamed for not solving them.
Much of the humanitarian work financed by the European Community is carried out by non-governmental organisations with special skills in particular areas. One of these is the international medical organisation known by its French title of Mcins sans Frontis ('Doctors without frontiers'), a private, non-profit-making association originally set up in 1971 to promote health in Third World countries. It started in France but now has national associations in Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain and Greece.
The Belgian section of MSF at the moment has some 1000 doctors, nurses and para-medical staff of various nationalities working in 29 countries, primarily in Africa but also in Asia, Latin America and Europe. In 1991 it spent some ECU 50 million, of which the European Community provided 58%. The rest of its funds come from some 380 000 private donors in Belgium and, to a much lesser extent, from UN bodies and the Belgian and other governments. Like its sister organisations, MSF-Belgium provides urgent medical treatment and surgery, and organises and gives advice and training on nutrition and health care in cliff cult situations. As its Director-General, Dr Jean-Pierre LUXEN, told The Courier, it specialises in acting fast.
- We respond to need in two ways - first of all with immediate action, by sending out, say, a plane straight away with everything we need on board, or, if we need to collect various items of information ourselves first, by putting someone on the first available flight and then triggering the action within the next 24 hours. Over the years, we have built up a team which looks after the logistics, getting together the medicines and tents and non-medical kits which we sort into kits tailored to the situation in hand, gets a management system moving to get all those things sent off, issues an invitation to tender for planes and collects detailed information.
· Where do you get your equipment and medicines?
- We have enough stocks in Belgium, France and Holland to have what we need ready in 10 minutes. Nothing is left to chance. A cholera kit, for example, will contain drips as well as medicines and shovels and lime and all in the right proportions for the particular situation - we have kits for 1000-bed hospitals, for example. Kits are made up in the light of experience. With some of them, we could look after 10 000 people for three months without any of the medicines running short. It is all tailored to the medical conditions we find on the spot. To replenish supplies later, we have purchasing centres in France and Holland which mean we can make a note of requests, seek out the lowest prices on the European market and make bulk purchases which can then be sent out to the different countries.
· What you have just described must cost a lot, so you must keep fairly strict financial control of it all.
- Emergencies do cost a lot, because it is far more expensive to shift 20 tonnes by plane than by boat, for example, and there is obviously a huge amount of money involved. The funds from the European Community and the public at large are very tightly controlled. With European Community funds, invitations to tender have to be issued for everything, there has to be financial justification for every item of expenditure. There are the conventional controls, of course, but we apply the same approach, only with more flexibility, to the private funds which we get from the general public. And it is all audited, it is all checked by the Court of Auditors and, at that level, a franc is a franc.
· People often complain that NGOs spend too much on running their head offices. Do they say that about you?
- No they don't. We have a rule that no more than 15% may be spent on administration and communication. Look at the past few years, in fact, and you see that the average was 5% for administration and 6% for communication and information - which is really the minimum we could work with, I think.
· And is the European Community still your biggest funder ?
- It most certainly is, for several reasons. First of all, because it has money and, second, the sort of money which is extremely suitable for the situations in which we have to work. There is the emergency aid fund, there is Article 255 of the Lomonvention, on refugees, there is food aid and there are funds for some very specific situations and, undeniably, our criteria are in line with all these. The geographical proximity of the Commission means we can also put our cases properly and so on. However, our policy is to diversify, for the very good reason that, first of all, it is always unhealthy to be dependent on one funder and we could well become dependent on the Commission and, second, with Europe getting more political, it could also start using its money in political ways and we would lose our whole raison d'e if we were just the operational arm of the Commission. That would be a complete failure as far as MSF was concerned.
· The Commission doesn't impose any political conditions as to how you use the money ?
- The funds we get from the Commission come for projects we have put to it, clearly, so there has been no attempt to steer our use of them in 99% of the cases so far.
· The European Community has just set up its humanitarian relief office, ECHO, which is aiming for a real partnership with the NGOs. What would a real partnership with the European Community mean as far as you are concerned ?
- The Commission had two main aims in setting up ECHO, I think. One, to make its operations more visible, and, two, to avoid being seen just as a banker or funder - hence an overhaul of its operating methods. ECHO will certainly mean that the financial instruments available to the NGOs can be harmonised and we can go for a slightly more coherent policy by putting our various plans on the table and assessing the resources available. That is the big advantage, I think. But there is a risk of an enforced partnership. If the sole idea is to force operators to run schemes decided on by the Commission alone, then I think there are a number of organisations which will not be interested. A partnership has to be reciprocal. There has to be something in it for all the parties involved. Secondly, I think the impact Europe's high visibility has on emergency issues needs to be put into context. Europe is known to be an extremely generous donor, extremely efficient in terms of its partners and in the way it operates a fast budget line. The best thing about Europe's visibility too, I think, is the operators, be they French or Belgian or British or Danish, going out through an NGO. These people are what makes Europe's involvement most visible. So there is more to it than stickers. There are people involved, which is why I think that we have to go on reinforcing and supporting the NGOs which are going to be the Commission's leading operators. Supporting them perhaps means helping them build up stocks and offering administrative assistance and so forth - which may mean giving the operators more towards their stock-building and organisational costs - and it may mean being that coordination platform which we are all waiting for.
· Is there anything an NGO can do and a government or a Member State or a UN agency can't?
- Yes, indeed: it can be independent of any State. I think that the reason why MSF was able to step in to help in Afghanistan and Eritrea, in Tigrnd Kurdistan at one stage, was because we are not tied to any particular State. The concept of that duty to intervene has obviously developed, so that nowadays it is true to say that some families in the United Nations or even the Red Cross have gone beyond that sacrosanct link with the State, and are also operating in areas which are not controlled by the State. So it is no longer just the preserve of the NGOs. I do think, on the other hand, that Europe, as an active participant, will come up against problems going into areas not controlled by States.
· Your Charter actually talks about a right to humanitarian assitance. How far does that go ?
- There are no geographical limits, I think. There are no limits when it comes to people's physical and psychological integrity and there are no ideological limits . The problem as we see it would arise if , say , we offered assistance without denouncing the cause of the situation where we were giving help. It would be a pity if we worked in, say , Khmer Rouge areas and couldn't denounce the Khmer Rouge rme. There must be no repetition of the situation the Red Cross was in during World War II, so I think the victims have to be the top priority, but in some situations the cause has to be linked to the effect.
· MSF is strictly neutral and impartial in what it does and it helps people without any discrimination on grounds of race, religion, philosophy or politics - that is what your Charter says. But if you are forced to get armed guards to protect your teams, as is happening in Somalio at the moment, aren't you already politically involved to some extent in that you are bound to be associated with the clans to which these armed guards belong ?
- Somalia is certainly an extreme example of the type of situation which creates the biggest problems for humanitarian operations and all the humanitarian relief agencies involved in them. There are three reasons for this. First, it involves accepting that we have to flood the country with food aid to make sure it gets to the victims, knowing that some of it goes astray. Most humanitarian relief organisations, I think, are aware that for every sack of food which gets through to the hungry, five or ten sacks have to be distributed. Secondly, there is the insecurity in which we work. Somalia is an extreme case of insecurity, I think, along with Yugoslavia and Liberia in 1989. Even in Afghanistan it was easier to get to the victims than in Somalia or Liberia. The third thing is that, in order to get to the victims, we have had to make a pact with the devil and that sort of thing obviously has to be analysed and thought through very carefully in humanitarian organisations. It's the first borderline case we have had and we consciously agreed to fudge a whole set of principles so we could help the victims, although on the understanding that, once things have stabilised, we shall be taking a hard look at those principles to see just how far a humanitarian relief operator can be pushed into sacrificing certain principles at any given time because of the situation in the area affected. That is something which needs to be thought right through to its conclusion, I think.
· Do you perhaps have any suggestions for the UN or any individual countries to make your work in the field easier in situations of this sort?
- Once again I think it may be a question of making pacts with the devil - although less of a devil than the private militias in Somalia. I remember being in Liberia when the situation in Monrovia was very tense and there was an American aircraft carrier off the coast. There were troops on board, but they did not intervene in Liberia and we said to each other sometimes that if only we had just 50 armed guards to look after the hospital and the refugee camp we could have got the work done, and things got so bad that we had to pull out for two or three months. We have reached the stage of asking for UN peace-keeping forces to step in - we did that for Somalia - although it is certainly not the answer in the medium term. It is not the answer because the States which we ask to provide that essential protection must not use it as an excuse for shirking their political or diplomatic responsibilities. Providing humanitarian relief and protecting it must not be the only way States get involved in conflicts where the real responsibility lies with diplomacy and politics. In other words, humanitarian work must not be a cover for the real responsibility.
· In a situation like the one in Somalia, with only one foreign mission, the Egyptian one, on the spot and only you and the Red Cross and no official national authorities at all, MSF teams surely must have unofficial information about what is going on. Are you sometimes asked to perform diplomatic functions or to help the more official authorities?
- Yes, we are, and I think it would be a great temptation to be called mediators. Sometimes, of course, our connections with some groups of resistance fighters mean we can pass on information which is outside the strict bounds of health and sometimes, of course, if we can get certain people to sit round a table together - and why not ? I think that that comes from the closeness of the ties and the contact and the fact that we are there in the field. I think that, without anyone noticing, a kind of informal diplomacy has grown up, through the UN or particular countries, and ultimately we should not be playing at being diplomats like that because we don't have the skills to do so and we could make some very serious mistakes.
· MSF makes a distinction between emergencies and crises, doesn't it ? Can you explain that?
- This also has an important bearing, I think, on the way ECHO and the Commission operate in relation to crises in the future. Emergencies, as far as we are concerned, are situations which crop up fast and which last longer or at any rate stay at a high pitch for some time.
They are things which make the local situation deteriorate in the medium term and destabilise or entirely destroy the structural elements of the country. They leave behind a whole situation which may last for years, either because deterioration prevents the structures from being put back, or because there is a one-off reason to do with the weather or political upheaval preventing the State from rebuilding. Then comes the structural phase when what might be called structuring and development can be undertaken. Take Chad. After 15 years or so of war, there was a period of five years when the State tried to rebuild the country - which is when the limitations of certain types of financing perhaps became apparent. Financing is available without difficulty for emergency operations, either for displaced people or operations run on emergency aid funds, but the instruments are geared to emergencies. So for some years now we have been suggesting a sort of crisis fund to finance rehabilitation. There should be no qualms about talking about rehabilitation for a year or two, or three or four or five if that is what is called for.
· What would MSF do in a period of rehabilitation ?
- We work in the health sector, obviously. We don't claim to do anything else. It's complicated enough as it is. So, just as in cases of strict emergency we go direct to the victims, whatever the potential consequences for the health system, when it comes to rehabilitation, we try to put the different components of the health system back on their feet one by one. A health programme means staff, buildings, supply circuits, vaccination campaigns and so on and all those are things which help us put our patient right during the period of rehabilitation. Then the long-term development phase - which is no longer our affair for the moment - involves helping the State take over its health system. But there are such shortages of everything during rehabilitation that people involved in bringing external assistance must not ask questions, they must just come in with the proper resources anyway.
· Isn't it all too often true, unfortunately, that long-term rehabilitation projects collapse once the expatriates have gone home ?
- Well, that is the whole problem of development projects, and I think it is wrong to be forever wanting to describe a project in terms of a beginning and an end with expatriates coming and expatriates going. There is no point in looking upon expatriates as just assistants. They are there to make sure there is a dialogue and I think that Europe, with all its wealth and its Lomonvention, represents money, of course, but it is also a force which compels all the people involved to get to know each other and take part in a dialogue. I think we should also take another look at the concept of technical assistance and see it more in terms of people transferring technology and engaging in dialogue. Japanese people come to some of our factories sometimes and, while there is no question of getting them to leave at all costs, they are not regarded as helping us. It's an exchange.
· The people who work for you take risks and their pay isn't up to Western standards, is it, so why do they do it ? What is their motiviation ?
- There are several reasons, I think. There are still one or two idealists around, and there are people, doctors especially, who find the work professionally extremely satisfying. A doctor out in the middle of the bush, even in an unstable situation, is a doctor who can still practise real medicine. Thirdly, I think there are people who are looking for a positive adventure and therefore do not feel that they are making a sacrifice, in fact they see the experience as a way of discovering different cultures, different countries and different situations. The fourth reason is that we have built up what the private sector would call a company culture which brings together people who are looking for a particular setting of freedom and tolerance, imbued with the spirit of May '68, in other words an improvement in the world environment from every point of view. It is obviously also a social trend which attracts young people. A couple of years ago, the Nouvel Observateur magazine ran a survey and found young people claiming 'I don't want to be a pilot any more. I want to be a doctor in Mcins sans Frontis', and I think that reflects the concern of a particular generation. It's a trend which has definitely been espoused by some of the youth of today.
Interview by Robert ROWE
An interview with Grd Molinier
Not since the 1940s has Europe seen a humanitarian disaster to rival the situation in what used to be Yugoslavia. The civil war between ethnic Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims for possession of the territory of the recently recognised independent republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina has driven millions of people from their home towns and villages. Desperate groups of refugees and displaced persons, including women, children and the elderly, have been callously herded like animals through hostile terrain where they have no protection against snipers and lawless thugs. Those who remain in their homes are the target of indiscriminate bombing and shooting, directed even at civilians queuing for food or trying to bury their dead. The conditions in certain camps where men are being held on suspicion of being combatants flout all international agreements on the treatment of prisoners of war and have provoked revulsion throughout the world. Even vehicles attempting to deliver relief supplies have been attacked and their occupants killed.
Faced with this unprecedented crisis in the continent of Europe, the European Community has this year continued putting large amounts of emergency aid into the country. The first stage of a planned three-stage operation to help refugees and displaced persons in 1992 involved sending ECU 36 million in aid up to the end of July, most of it form the budget of the PHARE programme for central and eastern Europe. The second stage expires on 30 September and involves aid of ECU 120 million, of which more than half comes from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, Guarantee Section. The third stage, to begin in October, is expected to require at least another ECU 120 million in funding from the Community budget.
This is the context in which the international donor community has been trying to get help to the suffering in ex-Yugoslavia - one of the first jobs facing the new European Community Humanitarian Office, ECHO. The Courier talked to the senior official presently in charge of its Emergency Humanitarian Aid Unit.
· Mr Molinier, why was the European Community asked to operate in what used to be Yugoslavia?
- The European Community has emergency funds for disaster victims all over the world, whether for natural disasters or man-made ones, especially where there is fighting. ECHO funds are also available for disaster victims in European countries outside the Community.
· Did the authorities of the territory we are talking about invite the Community to go there?
- Yes, they did. The authorities in the countries concerned did indeed ask the Community to step in, and that was in addition to requests from organisations responsible for running the relief operations - the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, for example, and the International Committee of the Red Cross and the NGOs.
· Does the European Community operate in parallel with the Member States?
- The European Community operates in coordination with the Member States. We in ECHO are responsible for coordinating Community action with Member State action, which means, first of all, that we have to try and mobilise resources from the Member States on top of the Community contribution. That is the first job of coordination. The second is operational coordination. We need reciprocal, detailed information if we are to avoid duplication and waste in our relief operations. Sometimes this type of coordination goes a little further, with combined operations with both Community and Member States contributing to a specific, joint objective. I can give you a good example of that. As you know, there is an air-bridge between Zagreb and Sarajevo. It is not working for the moment, unfortunately, but it did work and, at the end of August, using planes from the Member States and various third countries, it shifted 7500 t of Community products - 70% of all consignments.
· Just how much aid does the Community supply ?
- We were out there in the field from the moment the crisis occurred - that was in October 1991 and we were out there from then until July - running ECU 169 million-worth of schemes. That is a fair amount and we were able to do a lot with it. In particular we ran a relief operation by road, which began in May, with something like 4000 trucks, and we shifted 80 000 t of relief with it. These are indirect schemes run through partners such as the High Commissioner, the Red Cross and so on, but we have just recently set up something new, ECHO's first direct operation. We do this ourselves, without the kind of partners I mentioned as intermediaries, and we ourselves are delivering food to Zagreb where we have set up a logistical base. At the moment we have a Task Force of a dozen people out there, taking delivery of the goods our contractors send using EAGGF funds allocated to us. The Task Force takes delivery of these goods and the municipalities then come and collect them in their own trucks. Our people go with the convoys and help with the distribution of the food, which has to be handed out as soon as it reaches its destination. We started with a test project and built on that and now we have about 32 000 t of relief which is going to be sent in the same way to refugees and displaced persons now in Croatia.
To go back to your question ' of how much aid the Community provides, let me add that a decision is now being taken on a further instalment of ECU 120 million. It may be a very large sum to manage but it won't cover all the needs, which are considerable. International aid of $600 million is expected to be needed by the end of the year. This latest instalment of ECU 120 million, plus the aid committed previously but not yet released, is going to give us roughly $300 million of it. We have asked the USA and other members of G24 for an extra contribution, because we - not ECHO, it's a special unit in DG1 which is in charge of this - are also responsible for coordination with G24. We are going to call on everyone so we can ensure rapid coverage of this need, which is crucial, because winter is already upon us.
· Where do you get your goods ?
- In the Community. We have various sources of credit, including one important one, the EAGGF, which funds supplies by its usual procedures - i.e. tenders for the delivery of Community goods, some of which come through the intervention system while some will soon be bought on the Community market. The contracts state that the goods have to be delivered to particular towns in the former Yugoslavia.
· You have mentioned the financial needs. There must be huge humanitarian needs in the field too. What are the biggest difficulties your people come up against on the spot ?
- The biggest problem, as everybody knows, is getting things through to Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is where the biggest problem is, because the needs there are enormous. Those needs have been identified. We know what is wanted and we know how much is wanted and the money is there, but if there is no freedom of access, the financial resources are of no use.
So, that is problem number one, currently, and it is being dealt with in other quarters, as you know.
· Can't your teams get to the 'hot spots'?
- So far, the organisations which we deal with, the UNHCR mainly that is to say, and the Red Cross, are finding it very difficult out there. I mean, the freedom of passage they sometimes manage to get is the result of a great deal of negotiating with all the different parties on the ground. In some cases the outcome of the negotiations is positive, but there is no guarantee of the secure ongoing supply that Bosnia-Herzegovina should have. We can only hope that the moves now being made to protect convoys will mean the problem can be settled.
· Have you any way of ensuring that the aid actually gets to the people who need it or is there a danger of it being diverted ?
- The operation has been under proper control so far, I think, and, when it comes to Community aid, that is because the humanitarian organisations I mentioned look after distribution right down to the last stage and they also have to put in reports and supporting documents, including receipts from the end distribution point. We can check on the spot as well as by examining the documents, because the Task Force in Zagreb not only runs the direct operation I mentioned, but supervises Community schemes financed through intermediaries too. We also have a coordinator in Belgrade who deals with this type of thing. So I think we are fairly well placed locally when it comes to monitoring the operations. I have already explained how we control the direct operation we are running in Croatia.
· There are hundreds of thousands of refugees in Croatia and Slovenia. What sort of state are they in ?
- The situation in Slovenia is under control, let us say. That country has done a good fob of looking after refugees and their standard of living is fairly high. Things in Croatia are satisfactory too, but the families housing the refugees and the public reception structures have run out of resources. In Croatia, you realise, and in the other republics too, a large percentage of the refugees are housed in families which find having these people in their homes a considerable psychological and financial burden. We have helped these families with parcels of food and other items in the past, and now, I think, the idea will be to do more in this direction, because by helping these families and helping this existing reception capacity, you can avoid creating problems else where. If one day these refugees decide to leave the families or the families say they can no longer stay there, what will happen is that the refugees will go and swell the ranks of those seeking shelter in the big centres and there will be all the problems that go with it - the opening of new centres, with problems and delays and extra financing. That has to be avoided at all costs. The other thing, in a country like Croatia, is that a lot of refugees have been put in hotels. But hotels are not charitable institutions and the Government has to pay and the Government structures responsible for paying have no money left either. The whole thing could collapse at any moment. So we have to hang onto this housing and give Government action more support than we have done so far. The most appalling situation, of course, the most difficult of all, is Bosnia-Herzegovina, where we don't just have refugees and displaced persons, but victims of fighting and populations under siege as well. That is the very worst. There is no doubt about that.
· When relief is distributed in Bosnia-Herzegovina, do you make a distinction between those who may be aggressors and those who may be victims ?
- One of the big principles of Community aid, and of the aid which the humanitarian organisations hand out, is that no distinctions are made. All victims, whoever they are, regardless of ethnic origin, are eligible for Community assistance without discrimination. We get to refugees in all the republics, whichever they are.
· You mentioned the problem of all the refugees in neighbouring countries. Is the international community going to have to envisage rehousing them in countries other than their own one day ?
- The Community's position here is that everything must be done to keep the refugees as near to their place of origin as possible - which is of course why Europe is making this extraordinary effort to help them where they are, on the spot. As we know, though, some of them have still moved into neighbouring countries. Germany, for example, has made a big effort and is housing a lot of refugees. These issues haven't been solved. They crop up regularly and no common attitude to them has emerged so far.
· Winter is coming in the Balkans and people may not realise that it can be very hard in those countries. What is going to happen if no extra effort is made to help the refugees over there?
- There is a risk of more suffering and a further exodus if things cannot be put right - and that means food and treatment and housing. When I say that, I am thinking primarily of the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is why we must pull all the stops out to help house all these people decently, particularly with the next instalment of aid now being allocated, so they can get through the winter without too many adverse effects. I mentioned $600 million when talking about needs just now and a large percentage of it is indeed to cover this requirement for housing. Not only do we have to support the host families and the Government structures I have already referred to. We also have to renovate the centres. They are there, but they are not fit for winter. There is heating to install and prefabs have to be build in some places, and in some cases winter tents and blankets have to be supplied because it is clear that buildings cannot be put up in time.
· What do you think about troops being sent out to protect the humanitarian relief systems ? Has it created problems for you?
- It does create problems for our partner organisations. The International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees do not usually have soldiers to protect them when transporting and distributing relief. That is a very delicate issue and one which can also be linked to the right of intervention. But as I said, I hope that the moves being made at the moment will very soon show some positive results.
· For someone like you with many years ' experience of humanitarian relief, is the situation in what used to be Yugoslavia an unprecedented one or have you seen things like it at other times and in other places ?
- I don't want to dig up distant memories. I just have to think of the last major crisis, with the Kurds, where there was also a very difficult situation which has some things in common, many things in fact, with what is going on here. There was a conflict there too. There were armed forces, it was difficult to get to parts of the territory and the Kurd operation in fact taught us a lot. We have been able to draw from our experience there to help us in running our operations in Yugoslavia.
Interview by Robert ROWE
Like the rest of the international donor community, the EC has been giving urgent attention to the increasingly serious situation in Somalia, where a combination of drought, famine, war and anarchy has created a human disaster on a scale unprecedented even in that long-suffering part of the world. There is widespread starvation and disease, even in the camps for refugees and displaced persons. At the beginning of September 2000 people a day were said to be dying of starvation in the capital, Mogadishu, alone. Mohammed Sahnoun, special envoy of the UN to the country, said that one third of the population of 4.5 million were likely to starve to death before the end of the year.
Parliament: EC must respond
The European Parliament's Committee on Development and Cooperation held a special meeting in Brussels on 2 September at which representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the ICRC, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the EC Commission and international NGOs gave their views on the plight of Somalia. The committee's chairman, Henri Saby, said that only a political solution would bring Somalia's suffering to an end. This point was echoed by the co-chairman of the ACP/EEC Joint Assembly, Maria Luisa Cassanmagnago Cerretti, who said the EC must respond to the emergency and regretted that the EC Council and the ACP Council had not spoken out on the issue in recent weeks. The Commission's Deputy Director-General for Development, Peter Pooley (interviewed in Meeting Point in this issue), told the committee he did not believe in flooding Somalia with food aid, but thought that the 'braver and better way' would be to ensure armed protection for such aid. NGOs, he said, had been told that only 'those who perform will be financed', which was why 80% of EC aid to Somalia is distributed through the Red Cross.
Difficult and dangerous
Mr Pooley added that since July the Community had provided Somalia with 40 000 tonnes of additional food products, ECU 6 million in emergency aid and ECU 2.1 million in aid for refugee camps, as well as between 25 000 and 30 000 tonnes of aid to Kenya, part of which was for refugees from Somalia. The situation in Somalia, where 4 million people are in danger, was the most difficult and dangerous the Community had ever had to face in its humanitarian relief efforts.
Michael Aaronson of the London-based NGO, Save the Children, who had just returned from Somalia, told the Development Committee that the European Community should make its 'tremendous weight' felt by exerting leverage on the international system, particularly the UN Security Council, in view of the lack of an overall strategy for the distribution of food aid in a country that depended almost entirely on foreign aid.
Mr Aaronson paid tribute to the 'heroic' efforts of the Red Cross in Somalia and described the EC's aid as 'generous', as did Andreas Lendorff, head of the relief division of the ICRC, who pointed out how quickly the Commission departments responsible for food aid had reacted to the crisis. Two thirds of the aid distributed by the Red Cross in Somalia was being provided by the Community, he said. This made a total contribution of ECU 50 million in food aid, and Mr Lendorff said he hoped for another ECU 2.5 million in aid the following week. Red Cross aid to Somalia represented one third of its entire field budget for 1992, making this the largest operation the ICRC had ever mounted to help a country in need.
In a memorandum delivered to the EC Commission on the same day, its Vice-President Manuel Marin, who is responsible for cooperation and development, said that 600 000 people had been forced to flee Somalia and probably 2 million were displaced within it. He reported that, through the Commission, the Community had already provided ECU 56.2 million in food aid, giving 184 700 tonnes of cereal equivalent. ECU 9 million in emergency aid - special foods, medical supplies, logistical support and mine clearance - had been largely delivered, and a further ECU 6 million was being mobilised; ECU 2.6 million had gone towards helping Somali refugees in Kenya and Yemen.
Concerning the situation on the ground, Mr Marin said that aid operations normally relied on cooperation with some form of public authority, but in Somalia there was none, so the circumstances in which the agencies and NGOs had to work were almost unbelievably violent and anarchic. The only way they could convoy deliveries or guard stocks was to employ bands of gunmen. Even so, some localities were out of reach even with the heaviest guard, as the transport and public utility infrastructures had been largely destroyed. Partly as a result of this, aid deliveries had been insufficient and late.
As there was no prospect of a negotiated return to peace for the moment, the memorandum said that the second major possibility for improving the reach and depth of aid efforts was to ensure reliable military protection. There was reason to believe that the way was now clear for a very substantial improvement in the area of protection for aid operations, although it would take time to build up.
Some major donors and aid agencies, Mr Marin reported, were in favour of «flooding?' Somalia with food, but Commission departments had advised against such a policy, as the quantities required would be so enormous as to present logistical problems even greater than those already faced, and the prospects for re-establishing a real market would be heavily reduced. Nor were Commission officials on the spot in favour of arms-forfood exchanges, which some NGOs had advocated as a means of reducing the level of violence, since people with arms would unfortunately not surrender them for short-term food security.
On 10 September the EC Council of Ministers formally approved the use of European Development Fund resources to protect convoys delivering Community humanitarian and food aid in Somalia from looting and attack. The text of its statement reads: 'The Council, in view of the exceptional circumstances prevailing in Somalia and having consulted its ACP partners, agrees to the Commission suggestion regarding the financing of part of the operations by the Belgian soldiers invited by the United Nations under Security Council Resolution 775 to assist in protecting aid convoys from their arrival in Somalia to their final destination. Such support, limited to a maximum of ECU 27 million, would be financed by remainders from the indicative programmes for Somalia under LomI and LomII. It would not be used for the purchase of military equipment and would be disbursed following the normal EDF procedures.'
This is the first time that the Community has ever used money earmarked for development to finance operations of this kind. The resources concerned were never used for their original purpose because all development projects ceased as the country slid into anarchy. Only LomI and III resources can be used as Somalia is still not a party to the Fourth Convention. The EC Commission is now responsible for releasing funds as manager of the European Development Fund. The total cost of the Belgian peacekeeping force operation is ECU 37 million; the UN and Belgium will each contribute ECU 5 million to make up the rest of the cost. Some 500 Belgian troops were sent.
On 4 September the foreign ministers of Great Britain, Denmark and Portugal flew to Somalia for talks, followed a week later by the same countries' development ministers, who met several faction leaders. Manuel Marin, EC Commissioner for Development, accompanied the second of these missions. The Foreign Ministers asked the Commission to consider re-establishing a permanent presence in Mogadishu, particularly as a means of improving aid coordination.
In August the Commission sent another 40 000 tonnes of cereals, worth ECU 5.7 million, to be distributed to people in Somalia through the ICRC and the World Food Programme. On 22 September it made a grant of ECU 20 million from the 5th and 6th EDFs in the form of emergency aid to assist the humanitarian bodies working in Somalia.
The EC has this year allocated Somalia 206 000 tonnes of food aid, worth ECU 56 million, of which 70% had been sent and 50% had arrived at the time of writing. This does not include emergency aid from the EC and contributions from its Member States.
Aid is top priority
The ACP-EEC Joint Assembly meeting in Luxembourg at the end of September (reported at length in this issue) heard an eye-witness account from the British Minister for Overseas Development, Lynda Chalker, of her recent visit to Somalia and Kenya. Baroness Chalker said that the only products found in abundance in Somalia were weapons. The situation in the south was especially bad, and the drought affecting it and neighbouring countries had driven over half a million Somali, Ethiopian and Sudanese refugees into north-eastern Kenya, which was itself in need of substantial external aid. Regarding the situation inside Somalia, the Minister said the restoration of a legitimate authority through a process of national reconciliation was important, but the foremost priority was the effective distribution of aid.
by Richard LEWARTOWSKI
During 1991, the plight of the Kurds in northern Iraq hit the headlines. While refugee crises are all too common in the world today, the particular circumstances of the Kurdish flight from their homes - the speed of the evacuation, the huge numbers of people involved and the uncompromising terrain - combined to create an unprecedented situation. In this article, the author, who is a principal administrator in the recently-established European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), describes the prompt reaction of the Community in mobilising assistance for the refugees in the mountains.
In the confused political situation following the end of the Gulf War, there were various uprisings by disaffected populations of Iraq against the government of Saddam Hussein. When these failed, some 1500 000 ethnic Kurds fled the country, mainly to Turkey and Iran, in appalling conditions over rough terrain. In so doing, they presented the international community with an unparalleled humanitarian challenge.
In the situation immediately prior to the Gulf War, the European Community had already been active in helping foreign workers in the area return to their countries of origin, with a budget already larger than the normal annual limit of ECU 12m for emergency aid to non-ACP countries. Now the Community was faced with a real challenge to its traditional ability to get humanitarian aid to where it was needed fast.
On 3 April 1992 the Commission approved a grant of ECU 5m from its emergency aid budget for the displaced and refugee Iraqi populations. Within 36 hours the first planes had left carrying food, medicines and blankets, but as the full extent of the disaster became apparent, it was equally clear that the eight allocations made, which had exhausted the budget, would be far from sufficient.
With remarkable speed, the Commission, Parliament and Council, working together, completed the procedure for reallocating funds within the Community budget. The whole process took only 72 hours and on 12 April the Commission was able to grant a further ECU 100m for the same humanitarian needs.
As these funds were granted from the emergency aid budgetary line, they would be deployed by Commission services with long experience of fulfilling the mandate 'to save human lives, and to ensure minimum human living conditions'. However, the size and speed of the operation also meant drafting extra staff from other units, employing new methods of working and finding new partners. As a reminder of the importance of the operation, if any was needed, an interdepartmental working party was set up. This met every morning under the chairmanship of the Commission's Secretary-General, David Williamson.
The Commission's emergency aid services had long worked with various United Nations agencies, notably UNHCR, the Red Cross and Crescent family and European nongovernmental organisations in countries where the Commission had an established delegation. This crisis, however, was different. When the Kurds fled in vast numbers to Turkey and Iran, there was only a small Commission delegation in Ankara, well away from the Kurdish areas, and no representative at all in Iran. Negotiations had to be concluded with the latter authorities to have a temporary representative in Teheran, and contract staff were sent to the border areas in both Iran and Turkey. They were to coordinate Community and other international aid, and also to check as far as possible whether Commission-financed actions were being carried out as agreed.
The crisis has also lasted for longer than expected. One Commission head of mission transferring between two African postings set out on a brief mission to Iran with an overnight bag. By the time he left three months later, his wardrobe had expanded slightly!
The coordination between donors took place not only in the field, but also between the headquarters, and the Commission co-financed Member State actions, including the humanitarian aspects of their various armed forces. Such was the pressure and need that the Commission even did direct buying and delivery of supplies, and, as the programme became operative inside Iraqi borders, financially supported the provision of UN guards to ensure the delivery of supplies and the safety of workers.
Such innovations used by the Commission's emergency aid services, and brought about by the weight of the emergency, are obviously being taken into account in the establishment and development of ECHO.
One of the difficulties of the programme was the fluidity of the situation. 1 500 000 people left their homes to trek over the mountains in a matter of days. With the establishment of the safe haven area by the allied forces near the Turkish border, the vast majority who had fled to Turkey had returned inside Iraqi borders within two months; within six months a maximum of 50 000 people remained outside Iraq, but not all had been able to return to their places of origin. Even where they had, often there were only piles of rubble to welcome them.
By the end of July, the whole of the ECU 105m had been allocated in 53 separate decisions. Over 300 special flights had been paid for by the Commission and over one million blankets and 35 000 tonnes of food delivered.
Together with the Member States some ECU 500 000 000 had been provided for the Iraqi peoples in need, approximately 60% of the total world contribution. However, such had been the rapidity of the population movements that there was underspending on several programmes, and the strict monitoring procedures allowed for the reallocation of these funds. Equally, while the bulk of the funds were for the Kurds who had fled in the north, some funds had always been given for the Shiites in the south and even, under strict UN control, to other vulnerable groups throughout the country.
Memorandum of understanding
The implementation of the programme inside Iraq was helped by the existence of a 'Memorandum of Understanding' (MOW) between the United Nations and the Baghdad government. Community action could therefore continue and in April 1992 the Commission granted a further ECU 5m to aid the Kurdish peoples. While no longer front-page news, the basic problems for those in both the north and south of Iraq remained. One innovation during this period was a plan to demine areas on the Iraq-Iran border to allow the returnees to cultivate their fields without danger.
However, as the summer wore on, the public again became aware of the situation in Iraq as one of the three major humanitarian crises in the world. This took place at a time when the position of the UN had become weaker because no new MOU could be negotiated beyond 30 June 1992 and there were physical attacks on UN and NGO relief workers.
By the time this article is in print, the situation may have changed radically yet again. The UN Secretary-General is among these who fear the worst. Nevertheless its past record in this, and other areas of crisis, is such that one can be sure that the Community and its specialised office ECHO will be playing a full role in any emergency humanitarian needs.
by Nick ROBERTS *
Bangladesh is one of the least developed countries in the world and, because of its geographical location atop the Bay of Bengal, is afflicted from time to time by severe cyclones and floods.
The first signals of impending disaster were reported by the local press and television from 26 April 1991 on the basis of warning messages sent out by the Bangladesh Meteorological Department. What was initially reported only as a depression grew over three days to a warning signal strength of '10', indicating a severe cyclone. On Monday 29 April, Delegation staff stayed up late following the media reports on the cyclone as it crossed the Chittagong coast, about 300 km south of Dhaka. Just after midnight a tidal surge, up to seven metres high in places, swept across the off-shore islands and onto a 1 50-km stretch of the south-east coastline of Bangladesh. The capital city, Dhaka, being far from the centre of the cyclone, suffered no direct damage and felt only the peripheral impact of the storm
On the morning of 30 April the acting Head of Delegation, Sean Doyle, sent an urgent fax to the Emergency Aid Unit in Brussels alerting them to the disaster. It read:
'Several heavily populated islands are reportedly under water, and telecommunications disrupted. No casualty or damage reports are yet available, and it is unlikely that a clear picture will be available before tomorrow.'
In fact it was to be several days before the full extent of death and destruction was known, owing to the breakdown of communications and the difficulty of reaching many of the worst-affected areas. For the first ten days after the cyclone, direct communications with Europe were not possible and messages had to be faxed or telexed via the Delhi Delegation and even, on a few occasions, the satellite communications system of Member States' embassies.
On I May the EC Representative attended a briefing at the Foreign Ministry at which the Government formally requested international assistance. The following day the Commission approved a ECU 10 million emergency package for Bangladesh. This included 46 500 tonnes of relief food plus cash aid of ECU 2m allocated via the Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies, the nongovernmental organisation Concern and the Delegation for the local purchase and distribution of relief supplies, clothing and shelter. The Delegation was given the task of managing the allocation of ECU 500 000 by the identification of suitable priority programmes through NGOs present in Bangladesh.
As the scale of the disaster became clear, the Delegation had to put aside all other pending matters in order to concentrate on identifying agencies with the capacity to respond immediately and effectively with assistance for the cyclone survivors. Realising that many lives were still at stake, the Delegation mobilised its staff, as well as two experts in cyclone protection infrastructures employed on an ongoing EC-funded project, to visit the disaster area and NGO offices in order to listen to reports and priority requirements at first hand. Within days, the funds had been allocated and contracts signed, two with local NGOs and one with MSF France, with medical aid, locally purchased food for distribution and shelter identified as the main priorities. Implementation began at once, as the NGOs began to reach the stricken areas and distribute food, medicine and cooking and shelter materials.
During the period, the Delegation staff worked long hours, attending coordination meetings and reviewing project proposals. The Commission throughout had to be kept up to date on the situation. It soon became evident that the death toll had risen to 50 000 after several days and was continuing to rise as reports came in from the off-shore islands, which were among the worst-hit areas.
The scale of the disaster attracted the full attention of the local and international media, whose reports and pictures provided a graphic record of the death and devastation caused. The government's final estimates reported over 138 000 people killed, the majority drowned in the tidal surge.
In order to obtain a first-hand report on the situation and to review the work of the EC-funded NGOs, two senior local staff of the Delegation, Mr Halim and Mr Siddique, travelled to some of the worst affected areas along the Chittagong coast over a four-day period from 17 May. They found that the NGOs had been very quick to mobilise and coordinate their resources, to prevent duplication of work, and relief food distributions were already going ahead. However, continuing bad weather and the destruction of communications infrastructure, including roads, bridges and boats, prevented supplies from reaching many areas. From 15 May, a US Military Task Force provided helicopters and landing craft to supplement the existing capacities.
The impressions of the EC staff are described in detail in their mission report. They reported that all the leaves on the trees and bushes had been burnt by the high wind speeds. Despite the fact that over two weeks had passed since the cyclone, they were shocked to find that bodies and animal carcasses remained unburied, with consequent dangers of spread of disease. Throughout the area there was already a serious outbreak of diarrhoea, with reported cases of cholera. The cleaning of debris, emptying of ponds (used for washing), sanitation and safe drinking water were clearly major priorities. It was also evident that the cyclone warnings sent out had not been much use for those living in isolated villages with no raised shelters to escape to. The bamboo and corrugated iron or thatched roof huts were blown down or carried away by the tidal surge, which killed many inhabitants and left the survivors without any form of shelter.
Visits were also carried out to some of the off-shore islands, where the situation was even more desperate owing to isolation. The embankments which had previously protected the islands from high tides had been completely destroyed in places and required immediate repair.
Following these reports, the Commission committed an additional ECU 500 000 for NGOs already active in the area.
On 14 May local representatives of the Member States agreed to allocate ECU 60m in Special Post-Cyclone Aid to Bangladesh, to which the Commission added a provisional allocation of ECU 20m. This information was immediately passed on to the Government of Bangladesh.
On 28-30 May, the Head of Delegation, Jacques Bailly, visited the affected coastal areas to get first-hand knowledge of the extent of the damage. Accompanied by Government officials, he was able to visit by helicopter all the worst-affected off-shore islands and parts of the Chittagong coastal area. By this time the emergency phase of the relief programme was over, but terrible destruction was still visible and the impact on the economy was just beginning to be assessed.
By 6 June, the Commission had mobilised an identification mission to advise on appropriate longer-term rehabilitation programmes for consideration under the ECU 80 m programme entitled Special Post-Cyclone Aid to Bangladesh. The Delegation hosted the mission and held discussions with Member States, the Government and UN agencies. Following this visit, recommendations were drawn up proposing support to three new projects:
- a Cyclone Shelter-cum-Primary Schools Project to construct buildings usable as shelters during cyclones and as schools and community centres at other times, co-financed by Germany, Spain and Greece;
- an Emergency Food Aid Project (60 000 tonnes) to reconstruct roads and embankments through food for work and targeted food aid to vulnerable groups; - Technical Assistance to supervise a World Bank-fmanced project to construct high-priority coastal embankments.
With the addition of three other projects, the Commission's total contribution to rehabilitation programmes came eventually to ECU 41.5m, with Member States contributing an additional ECU 63m.
In August 1991 the Commission appointed a Post-Cyclone Coordinator to assist the Dhaka Delegation with the administration and coordination of the special programme.
by Paul MALIN
Southern Africa was hit early in 1992 by the worst drought experienced this century, leading to a 60% shortfall in crop production. The region needs to import nearly 12 million tonnes of food between April 1992 and March 1993, of which some 4 million tonnes will be in food aid. The food aid requirements have been estimated at 2.5 million tonnes for market sales and nearly 1.8 million tonnes for food targeted on 18 million drought victims in the ten countries of the SADCC (Southern Africa Development Coordinating Conference), which comprises the whole region excluding South Africa.
The European Community responded to the situation by mobilising 750000 tonnes of food aid from normal resources and from a Special Food Aid Programme to counter the threat of famine in Africa and to meet exceptional needs in other parts of the world. The challenge the Community is now facing is to deliver this huge quantity of food to sustain people until the next harvest and to prevent the worst effects of severe food shortages. This article sets out the Community's response to this unprecedented drought.
When, at the beginning of December 1991, we discussed with USAID the holding in Brussels of one of our occasional meetings of donors to coordinate our work on food aid, we agreed that Southern Africa should figure as one of the major items on the agenda. At that time we were thinking of the situation in Angola and Mozambique, long-standing emergency operations due to civil conflict, but by the time the meeting was held at the end of February 1992, we knew that the problems in the region went well beyond those two countries.
We were, in 1991, alerted to possible problems. We had followed the situation in Zimbabwe closely and were aware of structural problems resulting in a move out of maize production. Zambia had also alerted us to likely problems. Never theless we programmed our food aid budget in January 1992 without knowing the extent of the crisis. There are early warning systems in place following previous droughts, but even if we had had better satellite pictures of the region in December (these were obscured by dust from a volcanic eruption in Asia) we could not have known the scale of the disaster, which only hit in January/ February. Up to that time crop conditions remained good in a number of countries in the region, even if prospects were poor in South Africa and Zimbabwe. It was a prolonged drought from January during the crucial pollination stages that caused widespread crop failure.
When, in late January, the FAO alert on Zimbabwe showed the need for assistance to a country which is normally a food exporter and a major source of supply for EC food aid purchases for the region, the Commission looked at how its food aid resources could be re-programmed. We then prepared a number of small allocations for countries in Southern Africa and brought forward any remaining shipments from the 1991 programme.
In February we became aware that continuing crises in Africa and elsewhere made it likely that our normal food aid resources would be insufficient. In 1991, the Community agreed a Special Food Aid Plan of 400 000 tonnes for famine-affected countries. The FAO alert for the whole Southern African region, issued on 21 February, gave an indication of the extent of the problems to be faced in 1992. We realised that we needed to plan for resources even greater than those provided for 1991, so that when Vice-President Marin presented a proposal to the Commission on I April, it was for an additional 800 000 tonnes of cereals for the Horn of Africa and certain Asian and Latin-American countries as well as for the Southern African region.
Vice-President Marin's proposal of I April presented estimates of food needs for the worst-affected countries based on information received from Commission delegations, national early warning systems and the FAO. That our estimates of needs were between 60, and 90% of those published by the FAO and World Food Programme on 15 April reflects the uncertainty about the situation even in mid-March as well as caution on our part not to overdramatise a situation which had not yet received wide attention. Agreement to the proposed additional resources was given at political level on 6 April and the various budgetary procedures were finalised by mid-May. The Special Programme was used to allocate 371500 tonnes to Southern Africa even before the United Nations convened a conference on the region on I June. A further 380 000 tonnes were allocated from normal resources.
The Community faced a number of problems in reacting to the food crisis in Southern Africa. One is simply the timing of the harvest, which means that even early warnings come after the start of the year and after the programming of resources for the Horn of Africa, where we have been dealing with an ongoing crisis for some years.
Another problem is that we have only a limited number of continuing activities in the region to give us flexibility to speed up deliveries, to divert ships or to draw on stocks in country as we have done in the Horn. We did have continuing programmes in Angola and Mozambique and were able to borrow from food delivered to Malawi for refugee feeding in order to begin distributions for drought victims.
It is several years since most of the countries in the region have required food aid so delivery systems are unfamiliar. Plans have had to be made for distributions, whether by governments or NGOs, and this has taken some time. We had at an early stage thought that most of the food aid required would be for sale, but the FAD/WFP report of 15 April confirmed the need for more than 1.5 million tonnes of food for free distribution. Our exceptional allocations have, therefore, been a mix of food for sale and food for free distribution. We are aware of the need to assist those whose crops have failed, and who do not have the resources to purchase food, by making free distributions of staple foods. However, where people have the purchasing power, food is sold and the resources generated are used for the emergency distributions or for longer-term development. Consequently the food allocated in response to the crisis has been given in part to governments for sale and in part to the United Nations World Food Programme, to the Red Cross and to a wide range of non-governmental organisations for free distribution.
As soon as the allocations of food were planned, attention turned to the preparation for next year's harvest and allocations of seeds have been made in an effort to promote recovery and to support next year's harvest.
The massive quantities of food aid mobilised by the Community for Southern Africa give the lie to suggestions that recurrent food crises in Africa have given rise to 'donor fatigue'. The transport operation for this food aid is now under way using all the ports of the region in order to meet needs which will be felt most acutely in the early months of 1993, before the new harvest. A sign of the success of this mobilisation of aid will be the prevention of the widespread malnutrition and famine, so if we succeed there will be no newspaper headlines. We can hope that the 1993 harvest will allow stocks to be reconstituted, but a full recovery from a catastrophe such as the 1992 drought will take some years.
by Norman SOWERBY
Twelve youngsters from Mozambique and Angola are settling down, under a project started this year by the European Community, to an education they had previously only dreamed of.
The project was set up with a ECU 1 695 000 grant from the LomV regional programme. The need came about because, according to EC sources, in most southern African countries secondary education suffers from serious shortages of qualified mathematics and science teachers, and from a lack of laboratories, scientific equipment and school materials. The problem is acute in Angola and Mozambique, where the education systems have suffered, and continue to suffer, major disruptions. Few institutions in Angola and Mozambique are able to offer specialised degrees or postgraduate qualifications in science or engineering, and universities in the southern African region offer such courses only in the medium of English. Opportunities for Portuguese-speaking students are consequently limited.
This Lomroject aims to broaden these opportunities by preparing selected students for tertiary level studies in scientific and technical subjects, according to an EC spokesman in Swaziland, the small, independent southern African kingdom situated between Mozambique to the east and South Africa to the west.
Swaziland is also the home of Waterford-KaMhlaba United World College, which, in just 29 years since it was founded, has won a reputation for adventurous educational policies and high academic standards.
'It seemed the ideal school for a scholarship scheme aimed at Mozambican and Angolan youngsters who might not have had the best of chances because of circumstances in their own countries,' said the EC spokesman.
'The project provides scholarships for six Angolan and six Mozambican students each year, for three years. There is an initial one-year bridging course to prepare students for the international Baccalaureate (IB) programme. This is necessary for non-English speakers to perfect their knowledge of the language, and as a general acclimatisation to the school life and curriculum. After that year, successful students will begin the two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.'
The Waterford project offers more than a fine educational opportunity.
The school is a member of the seven-member, worldwide United World Colleges movement, which was established in September 1962, when the first sixth-form college opened in Wales, U.K. This was followed by UWC South East Asia in Singapore (1972), Lester Pearson UWC in British Columbia, Canada, UWC Waterford KaMhlaba of southern Africa (1981), UWC Adriatic of Italy (1982), UWC Armand Hammer of the American West, in New Mexico (1982), and UWC Simon Bolivar of Venezuela (1988).
The UWC philosophy common to these seven widely-dispersed schools is to make education an active force in uniting nations and peoples, according to the founders. Member schools 'seek to develop not only intellectual and aesthetic potential, but the moral qualities of courage, compassion, cooperation, perseverance and respect for skill which are vital to any training in active citizenship and service to the community.' So, a student moving from Canada's Lester Pearson UWC to, say, the Singapore UWC, will find the same values being taught there. But, naturally, the seven world schools differ.
Waterford KaMhlaba, established in 1963 in Swaziland, is one of only two UWCs which are not exclusively sixth-form colleges, but take pupils from the age of about 11. UWC Singapore is the other. Waterford's founding in the tiny independent state of Swaziland was one of the first acts of defiance against the now discredited policy of apartheid in the neighbouring Republic of South Africa.
To the shock of many whites in the region, it vowed to accept pupils regardless of colour or creed.
When the school opened there were 16 pupils - boys - and six staff. The classrooms were rondavels, small, round, clay and wattle branch buildings with thatched roofs.
Today there are 400 pupils, boys and girls, of more than 40 world nationalities ranging from American to Zimbabwean. About 45% of them, according to school figures, are South Africans of all racial groups. The largest nationality group is Swazi, making up 23% of the total. Many of the pupils have won scholarships.
There are 35 members of staff, again of many nationalities. Numbers in each class are a luxurious 28 or fewer, and the amenities are described as adequate in First World terms, privileged in Third World terms.
The school founders said in 1963 that there 'was a vital need to establish a school in the region where the only criteria for admission would be academic merit and character reference, and where colour, religion and ability to pay the fees would play no part in the admissions policy.'
The school was first named Waterford for practical reasons. The man who sold the land to the school founders was Irish, and he had named the area after his home county in Ireland.
In 1967 the then Swazi head of state, King Sobhuza, visited the school. He noted the wide range of nationalities among the pupils, and remarked: 'Why, it is a world in miniature ...' So came the Swazi name KaMhlaba, The Little World, or World in Miniature, and it is now officially known as Waterford-KaMhlaba, or WK.
From the start it attracted pupils from a South Africa still in the grip of apartheid. So, a tradition of political awareness in the school today comes as no surprise.
One current pupil is Mandla Mandela, African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela's grandson, and other members of the Mandela family have been through the Waterford experience.
After a recent visit to the school Mandela wrote to headmaster Richard Eyeington: 'We are very interested in the United World Colleges movement. The ANC has pledged to inculcate a culture of education in South Africa, and we have many lessons to learn from your successful experiment in non-racial education.'
The school magazine, Phoenix, is named after the legendary bird which is also the school emblem. It symbolises hope rising from the ashes of discredited segregational education, one of the founders once explained.
Phoenix includes pupils' accounts of typical school activities, such as the biology field trip to the South African coast, an arts festival, open day (the Swazi Prime Minister came), the school play (Shakespeare's Measure for Measure) and a sports competition in Lesotho.
But the casual reader is constantly reminded that Phoenix is slightly different from the usual school may, for instance, by unusual tributes in a column on former pupils.
* the release from prison in South Africa of Roland Hunter. Roland was imprisoned for five years under the Defence Act. He passed on to Frelimo (the ruling party in neighbouring Mozambique) details of the support the South African government was giving to the rebel movement Renamo in Mozambique.
* the sentencing to 15 years in a South African prison of ex-student Susan Westcott. Susan was communications officer in the anti-apartheid Broederstroom ANC cell.' (Susan Westcott has since been freed following more relaxed conditions in South Africa since the release of Nelson Mandela and the un-banning of the ANC.)'
The Chess Club and Astronomy Club compete for members with Waterford's own branch of Amnesty International.
This is the atmosphere six young Angolans and six young Mozambicans are currently soaking up in their preparatory year before the IB course.
Six months after starting their bridging year, they commented with enthusiasm on the free interaction and wide range of nationalities.
One Angolan said: 'When we came we didn't speak English, and everyone said 'Hi' to us. We did not know even what it meant then. Everyone is so friendly. I did not know any South African before I came here. Our countries were at war. Now I have South African friends.'
A major impression is the standard of teaching and the availability of materials. Hermenegildo Bambo, aged 18, of Inhambane province in Mozambique, told us: 'At my old school we had no pencils, no books. Here there is everything we need.'
Dulcidio Francesco of Gaza province in Mozambique said: 'Before I came here, if you wanted to ask a question, you asked the teacher in class. Here you can go to a teacher at night, any time, and ask your question. They explain very well.'
Vladimir Kiluanje Saraiva, of Luanda, in Angola, spoke of Waterford's atmosphere. 'It is international. The people who come here learn to live with other people, from other continents. There is no difference in race. Also, we are learning English. That means that if I am going to university I have a bigger choice.'
Both the Angolan and the Mozambican governments have an agreement with the students that they will return to their countries after their studies to put to good use what they have learned. Apart from English, an essential learning tool, the Lomponsored students concentrate on the sciences.
Lidia Fernandes from Angola said that before acceptance at Waterford she, like the others, did tests in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and English. 'Next year I want to start the IB course, for two years, and then I want to go to university and study civil engineering. Then I want to go back to Angola to work in building construction.'
A teacher who is particularly close to the group in their bridging year said they are highly motivated, constantly enquiring. 'They ask for a wide range of people to come and speak to them, to widen their knowledge of English and of general subjects.
'But they have had traumatic experiences. Some are under tremendous pressure. One boy arrived from Mozambique to start the course with no luggage, just the clothes he was wearing. We found money to buy him more clothes.
'Swaziland is only a couple of hours by road from Maputo, but the children have to fly because vehicles using the road are under regular bandit attack.
'Last Easter holidays the mother of another Mozambican boy was abducted by bandits to the north of Maputo when he was at home there. He's back at school now, but he still does not know where his mother is, or if she is alive.'
Pulling the world out of recession
The UNCTAD Secretariat's 1992 Trade and Development Report, published in September, could not have come at a more appropriate moment - in the midst of the crisis in the foreign exchange markets, and just before the meetings of the IMF/World Bank in Washington. Both events brought into sharper focus the report's contention that an undercurrent of debt deflation in a number of industrialised countries, notably Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, is aggravating the world recession which is seriously affecting international trade. It defines debt deflation as 'a process whereby a decline in banks' willingness and ability to lend forces debtors to curtail operations or resort to distress sales of inventories or other assets, which in turn lowers incomes and asset prices further and thus prolongs the recession'. This is the first time in the postwar period, it notes, that such a phenomenon has been observed.
The reluctance of financial institutions to lend stems from the indebtedness of firms and households and from the huge losses they have incurred since the 1980s - the decade when deregulation led to competition in lending and when borrowers felt highly confident about a continuing rise in asset prices and incomes. The boom came to an abrupt end in mid-1989 as 'all sectors found themselves overcommitted', a situation worsened by the Iran-Iraq war.
With firms and households now facing high interest rates, unable to borrow and more inclined to reduce their indebtedness, the world economy is sinking deeper into recession, plunging a large number of developing countries into greater economic misery. The report recommends a series of measures to pull the world economy out of the recession: government actions to boost economic activities, greater financial flows to the developing countries and the reduction of their debt burden, a gradual approach to trade liberalisation by the developing countries and a more careful approach by them in overhauling public enterprises.
Adoption of Keynesian policy
Because the global economy can no longer rely on the private sector for recovery, the report advocates the adoption of a Keynesian policy of raising government spending, albeit temporarily, to stimulate activities, particularly in the three largest debt deflated economies - Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. This will allow for spending on the badly neglected social and communications infrastructures and result in improvements in productivity and employment without creating excessive inflation. Although such a policy could bring in its wake risks of budget deficits, the report argues that by promoting the growth of income, 'higher expenditures would probably reduce rather than increase deficits'. However, if the recovery set in motion by government action is to be sustained, long-term interest rates must come down and be kept permanently low and short-term interest rates in Western Europe must also be brought down to the levels prevailing in Japan and the United States; Germany should lead the way in the latter in order to avoid strains within the ERM (the European Exchange Rate Mechanism) and to give its partners the leeway to expand their economies. The report recommends that the United States Federal Reserve Board should revert to the policy it pursued prior to 1979, i.e targeting the rate of interest. It further advises the developed nations to widen their export markets by increasing the flow of long-term capital to the developing countries. The latter, it says, can only achieve sustained expansion if there is strong global growth.
International financial flows and debt
On the subject of international capital flows, the report notes the diversity of situations in 1991. South and South-East Asia were again able to increase their borrowing. Latin America recorded substantial inflows, although these were more in the form of bonding than of bank lending and were due mainly to attractive high interest rates and currency appreciation. There was no improvement for the rest of the developing countries - their access to external funding remained difficult not only because of high costs of finance but also because of an adverse perception of their creditworthiness, a factor that has also begun to affect countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
A similar situation was observed on the debt front where Latin America's performance was much better in terms of rescheduling and relief. Despite substantial lower interest payments by African countries as a result of various refinancing schemes, the region's repayments deficit widened further.
Although the report welcomes the adoption by the Paris Club of the 'entranced' Toronto terms for the reduction of the debt of the poorest countries, it describes it as being a dilution of the Trinidad proposals which it considers as more appropriate in dealing with the problem.
Reforming international trade
It hardly need be said that the recession has continued to have devastating effects on international trade, particularly for the developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa's overall: trade balance, for example, worsened in 1991 (indeed, Nigeria excepted, its economies grew by only 1.6%, 'so that per capita real income once again declined'). The report deplores the fact that a large number of developing countries have liberalised trade but their efforts have not been rewarded by developed nations which have continued their policy of using tariff barriers to protect ailing industries - precisely the kind of industriesin which the developing countries now have comparative advantage. It called for a reversal of this policy and hoped that this would be achieved through the Uruguay Round.
The report criticises reforms under structural adjustment which require the combination of such macro-economic measures as the abandonment of foreign exchange controls and devaluation with trade liberalisation. These are a set of complex and difficult measures which can innate the cost of adjustment and diminish the purchasing power of households, it says. Indeed trade liberalisation can have a destabilising effect on an economy that lacks adequate foreign exchange to finance a reasonable level of imports 'because it may need to be accompanied by very sharp devaluations'. It suggests gradual liberalisation in which export promotion, backed up with incentives such as subsidies and processing zones, can be combined with temporary protection of a carefully selected number of nascent industrial activities; a full scale liberalisation should take place only after 'export supply capabilities have been built up'.
Overhauling public enterprises
Selectivity is again the watchword of the report on the reforming of public enterprises which, it admits, are in a state of crisis in many developing countries. These enterprises are not always poor performers, as the Kenyan Tea Development Authority and the Guma Valley Water Company of Sierra Leone, for example, have proved. It points out that there is, however, 'a close relationship between the performance of public and private enterprises: in countries where the private sector has performed well, public enterprises have also tended to do so'. The private sector is virtually nonexistent in many developing countries. Public enterprises have come into being in these countries precisely because there was not enough capital in private hands to permit the emergence of the sector. Unfortunately the goals of some of them were not often clearly defined. The report attributes the failure of these enterprises to an absence of competition in their product markets, bad management, lack of effective systems of ownership, control and budgeting as well as political pressures and corruption.
'There are various options for reforms, principally, restructuring, privatisation and liquidation', it says. 'No single answer is applicable everywhere, for the extent and nature of the remedy called for depends on how the performance record of a public enterprise is judged against the objective set for it'. The objectives of those enterprises not performing well should be reviewed. Whatever these are, they should be based on commercial considerations. Where non-commercial objectives are assigned to the enterprises for whatever reason, says the report, 'the costs should be financed separately and transparently.' These are guidelines that should be followed in carrying out reforms of public enterprises under structural adjustment programmes, for they take both their efficiency and social dimensions into consideration.
by Richard HOWARD
The world's best-known dramatist in any language must surely be the English playwright William Shakespeare, the excitement of whose works is matched only by the drama of the times in which he lived 400 years ago, during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and James I. Shakespeare's plays brim with heroes and villains, lovers and tyrants, soldiers and shopkeepers, tragic and comic figures whose doings still interest audiences even today. In the country of his birth virtually all his plays are still performed, and generally fill the theatres where they are put on. In part, of course, this is because they are studied in schools, and teachers like to show their classes how the words on the page come to life as soon as they are spoken by flesh-and-blood actors.
In Britain the state-funded cultural organisation, the British Council, long ago realised that schoolchildren and students in many countries abroad also read Shakespeare, and that live performances of his works are an exportable asset with a ready market wherever Hamlet or Othello, Richard III or Prospero, Romeo and Juliet are familiar names. However, Shakespeare's plays are on the grand scale: some of them have more than 30 characters, mostly clothed in gorgeous historical costumes, and the texts call for stages set as castles, town squares, palaces, magic forests and islands, tombs, shipwrecks... A literal staging would cost a fortune to transport around the world.
Fortunately, however, there is a way round this economic problem, and it lies in the plays themselves. In Shakespeare's time they were done on a bare stage, by actors wearing the clothing of their own day and using only a minimum of props. The same practice can be followed today, as the language is so full of expressive imagery that expensive sets and elaborate accessories are not actually needed. And by putting each actor in more than one role, as the structure of the plays allows, a skilful director can reduce the manpower needed to much more manageable proportions without affecting the audience's enjoyment of the story.
In fact, with judicious pruning of the text, a mere handful of actors can tour to distant countries with full versions of several Shakespeare plays. The British stage and television actor Richard Howard, a veteran of Britain's National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, here describes his experiences working with the surprisingly small London Shakespeare Group in many different parts of the world.
The London Shakespeare Group was created by the British actors John Fraser, Gary Raymond, Delena Kidd and Susan Farmer in 1976, when, in association with the British Council, it began sending companies of four to eight actors throughout the world to perform Shakespeare's plays. It is still run by one of the founder members, Delena Kidd, from an office in London as a successful commercial entreprise which employs top actors from all areas of the theatrical profession who enjoy the challenge of travel and the prospect of performing in unexpected venues and before people of all ages and nationalities. Packing the entire set and costumes into one or three trunks (depending on the number of actors taking part), the company has performed in venues as diverse as a school-room in Mafeteng, Lesotho and a bat-infested courtroom in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka; from the Japanese city of Hiroshima to the theatre at Rose Hill, Mauritius; in a beach garden in Oman or at universities in Addis Ababa and Seoul. On a visit to India, we once had to go to work on horseback to reach the Gaiety Theatre in Simla.
For the 1978 tour of East and Southern Africa, showing five Shakespeare plays, the company comprised Ian Talbot playing Shylock (a Jewish merchant), Bottom (an Athenian weaver) and Brutus (a Roman general - wearing a pair of purple boots as there were no standard-issue black Army boots available); Ian McCulloch as Macbeth (King of Scotland and psychopath) and Mark Anthony (another Roman general), and playing music;
Delena Kidd in the roles of Portia (a Venetian lady) and Lady Macbeth (Queen of Scotland, the evil genius behind her husband) and wardrobe mistress; and Richard Howard performing Cassius (a Roman politician) and Bassanio (a Venetian gentleman) and directing the plays. All we took was one trunk full of costumes and props, the ass's head from the production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' performed in the open air in Regent's Park in London, a guitar and our personal baggage. The trunk itself was the set. For 'The Merchant of Venice' it became the dock behind which Antonio stands accused by Shylock, for 'Macbeth' it stood in for the ramparts of Dunsinane Castle and for 'Julius Caesar' it was the corpse of Caesar himself. In one of the plays about King Henry IV, it served as the mock throne which the drunken knight Sir John Falstaff sits on to impersonate the King; and for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' it was just ... a trunk.
This is how each performance started. The trunk was placed on the floor with a few chairs in a semi-circle behind it. As soon as the audience (anything from 100 to 1000 people) was in, the trunk was opened and a piece of chalk taken from inside. A circle was then drawn on the floor and, while three of us set props and pieces of costume in pre-arranged positions on and around the chairs, Ian Talbot would deliver a prepared speech which included the business of jumping in and out of the circles saying: 'Now I'm acting - and now I'm not.' The audience could usually tell the difference!
At a school in Livingstone, where the audience moved us greatly with their singing of the Zambian national anthem before the show, we performed 'Julius Caesar'. After the trunk, as Caesar, had been stabbed to death and covered with a blood-stained toga, Brutus walked forward and spoke to the citizens of Rome: 'Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.' 'None, Brutus, none,' replied the entire audience, unprompted and unrehearsed. It was a moment when we could just imagine what it must have been like to have performed the play for the first time when it was written in 1600, at a time when the story was familiar to the audience but the drama brand-new. In performances of 'The Merchant of Venice', there was always a gasp of shock in the court-room scene where Shylock is about to cut out his adversary's heart in settlement of an unpaid debt, when Portia, speaking as a lawyer, advises Shylock that he is legally entitled to do it only if he spills no blood in the process: 'Tarry a little, there is something else. This bond cloth give thee here no jot of blood; The words expressly are a pound of flesh.'
In Livingstone, by the way, we stayed in a hotel called 'The Smoke that Thunders', the local name for the Victoria Falls, and were lucky enough to have the author of the plays with us... It was, in fact, the British Council representative and head of English teaching in Zambia, who, with his bald head and beard, looked exactly like Shakespeare.
Selibe Pikwe in Botswana is a place to which we often returned in order to change aircraft and once had to switch seats as a company of soldiers fighting for the independence of what is now Zimbabwe commandeered the rear of the plane. Our chartered aircraft to Maun, which lies to the north of the Kalahari between the Okavango swamps and the Makgadikgadi salt pans, was just big enough for us, our luggage and the pilot, and we had an exhilarating flight as we shadowed herds of zebra across the desert. The return journey was less thrilling as the pilot of our scheduled flight was a one-man band who also checked us in and stowed the luggage. And there was an extra passenger. The pilot was unwilling to take the trunk as it would make the plane too heavy and a storm was brewing. In the end and after a lot of shoving and heaving, he agreed and we took off. The storm broke, the plane was thrown about very badly and we had to make for an airstrip beyond Gaborone. There we saw some children waiting to see who was arriving, so Ian put on the life-like ass's head before climbing out of the plane and, with ears flapping, eyes winking and jaw snapping, he appeared before the crowd. As the children backed away with a mixture of fear and fascination we discovered exactly how to play the scene from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' where Bottom appears before his friends having been magically 'translated' into an ass by the fairy Puck.
During a tour of the romantic comedy 'Twelfth Night' to Uganda in 1984, we were invited to a performance of a local play which had elements of another Shakespeare play, 'Pericles' (princes competing for the hand of a beautiful princess) and of the fairy story of 'Beauty and the Beast' (the most hideous competitor winning the princess's hand). We expected the play to end happily but unbelievably in the 'kiss a frog, reveal a handsome prince' manner, but it ended more grimly and true to life with the monstrous hero claiming the princess according to her father's promise. Real life came on stage in another way in Uganda when President Obote came to the show. Two of his soldiers were posted in the wings, and during the heroine Viola's soliloquy, after Malvolio has left her alone with Olivia's ring, one of the fully armed soldiers entered upstage left and, from the back of the stage, took his time to survey the audience. Viola's only complaint afterwards was that she had got fewer laughs than usual.
As testimony to the unending popularity of these plays, I am at
present in England rehearsing the role of Peter Quince for a production of 'A
Midsummer Night's Dream' to be performed in Sheffield to mark the 21st birthday
of the Crucible Theatre; and the London Shakespeare Group is preparing another
production of the play to tour the Gulf early in
by Francisco GRANELL
The Olympic Games may always have been regarded as a world event, but this description is particularly appropriate in the case of the 25th Olympiad which was held in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, Spain, from 25 July to 9 August.
These Games, the first since the fall of the Iron Curtain, are also the first in recent years not to have suffered from boycotts or political controversies. Spain has no enemies and it is a country which is somewhat 'in fashion' at the moment. In 1992, in addition to the Olympics, it has also staged the fifth centenary celebrations of the 'discovery' of America by Christopher Columbus, and the Universal Exposition in Seville.
The Mediterranean city of Barcelona, which is Spain's industrial capital, welcomed the sporting representatives of 172 countries. This was a record level of participation for the modern Olympics, which were founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1896.
The Spanish government, the Catalonia regional government and the Barcelona city authorities made significant infrastructural investments for the occasion, designed to create an appropriate environment for all the sporting events and to provide suitable living conditions for almost 11 000 athletes and 5000 technical staff who came together in Barcelona for the Games. The investments included airport modernisation, Olympic villages and urban motorways.
The work done by Barcelona 92's Olympic Steering Committee (COOB '92), which was set up for the purpose of organising the 25th Olympiad, ensured that by the end of the Games a balanced budget had been achieved. Excessive investments and expenditure - of the kind which led some previous Olympics to record substantial deficits - were avoided. The overall economic impact of the Olympics has been calculated at some ECU 10 000 million.
There was, moreover, almost worldwide coverage of the Games by the major television networks and newspapers. It is calculated that 3 500 million television viewers tuned in to the opening ceremony held at the Montjuic Olympic stadium. This is located in an area which became known as the «Olympic Ring» on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean together with other sporting venues such as the Sant Jordi multi-sports centre, the Picornell pool and the Sports University (where the Secretariat of the Association of European Institutes of Physical Education and Sport has its headquarters).
Under the symbolic Olympic figures represented by the logo and mascot (the dog COBI) the athletes competed in 25 official and three demonstration sports.
The European Community was well represented at the Barcelona Games. The President of the Commission, Jacques Delors, and a number of Commissioners joined King Juan Carlos I of Spain and the President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch, at the opening ceremony. Part of the ceremony was devoted to underlining the importance of Europe for Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain. It is worth recalling that the Mayor of Barcelona is current President of the Assembly of the Council of Municipalities and Regions of Europe and that the President of the autonomous government of Catalonia (Generalitat) is President of the Assembly of European Regions.
All twelve Community Member States took part in the Barcelona Olympics and ten of them won medals.
The 24 ACP medallists at the Barcelona Olympic Games
Sixty African, Caribbean and Pacific countries associated with the European Community under the Lomonvention also sent teams of varying sizes to take part. Some of these were assisted under the programme run by the International Olympic Committee which is designed to help developing countries take part in the Games.
At the Seoul Olympics in 1988, the athletes of five ACP countries (Kenya, Suriname, Jamaica, Senegal and Djibouti) won Olympic medals. Barcelona saw an improved performance, with athletes from eight ACP countries mounting the winners' podium (see table). In 1988, the ACP states obtained 14 Olympic medals. In Barcelona, the figure rose to 24, of which 21 were on an individual basis and the remaining three were in team events. The team successes were for the Nigerian men in the 4 x 100 metres (silver), the Nigerian women over the same distance (bronze) and Ghana's football team, which took a bronze after beating Australia 1-0 at the Barcelona Football Club stadium.
There were two ACP athletes who each won two silver medals on the track. The Jamaican, Juliet Cuthbert, came second in the 100 and 200 metres while Frank Fredericks of Namibia performed the same feat in the men's sprint events.
Kenyan athletes Mathew Birir, Patrick Sang and William Mutwol achieved a historic clean sweep for their country in taking first, second and third places in the 3000 metres steeplechase.
As mentioned above, there was a double success for the Nigerian sprint relay teams. In the men's 4 x 100 metres, the Nigerian quartet came second to the United States in a race which saw the latter establish a new world record in an incredible 37.40 seconds. The Nigerian women came third after the United States and the team from the Commonwealth of Independent States (athletes from republics of the former Soviet Union).
The two other gold medals won by ACP athletes were in the men's 800 metres (William Tanui of Kenya) and the women's 10 000 metres (Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia).
From this assessment of ACP participation at the Barcelona Olympics, one clear fact emerges - most of the medals were won in athletics. ACP athletes took three gold, ten silver and seven bronze medals in the stadium as compared with only four elsewhere - two in the boxing arena, one in the swimming pool and one on the football field.
In conclusion, it should be noted that as regards the number of medals won, Kenya came 21st in the unofficial classification of participating countries. Other positions were; Ethiopia (33), Jamaica (38), Nigeria (39), Namibia (41) and the Bahamas, Ghana and Suriname (all 55). Only 64 of the 172 participating countries won medals.
When one considers the World Bank rankings of GDP per capita - Kenya (169), Ethiopia (202), Jamaica (120), Nigeria (185), Namibia (86), Ghana (165) and Suriname (76), one can conclude that all these countries had a very good Olympics in terms of their relative economic position, particularly in a highly professionalised sporting environment dominated nowadays by economic and publicity considerations. Only the Bahamas, which occupies 32nd place in the world's GDP per capita ranking, had a lower medal classification (55th place), but it must be remembered this country is 110th in the world in population terms.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the performance of the European Community. The EC's Member States won a total of 200 medals - 71 gold, 50 silver and 79 bronze. This compares with 112 medals for the CIS and 108 for the United States. These figures allow us to compare the ACP performance with that of the world leaders in the sporting arena, but they also reveal the sporting strength of the Community should the situation ever arise where it enters a single team in Olympic competition.
by Chris McIVOR
With 20 years of almost continuous civil war that has resulted in economic collapse, a mass exodus of refugees to neighbouring countries and starvation for many of its people, it does not seem that Mozambique has much to offer in the way of an environment which is conducive to creativity. Yet out of the horror of these last two decades, Mozambican painter and sculptor, Shikani, has managed to translate that experience into the material of art - something more positive than the usual images that are associated with that unfortunate country.
Speaking at a recent display of his work in Harare, the 58-year old artist, who has exhibited widely in London, Washington, Rome, Lisbon and Moscow, as well as in southern Africa, claimed, 'Much of what I do is a reflection of the world around: me, in particular the suffering of the peasants in our country. But I am not a photographer. The role of the artist is to go beyond the particular to portray something that can transcend time, place and circumstance.' Echoing this sentiment, renowned Kenyan sculptor, Joseph Muli, stated at the opening of the Harare exhibition that Shikani's work utilised many of the symbols, motifs and styles of traditional African sculpture and dance. The faces depicted in many of his works have a mask-like quality that expresses not only the present reality of contemporary Mozambique but also the suffering, hopes and fears of many generations of Africans. 'The faces in these sculptures and painting are hundreds of years old.'
Born in a small, rural village in the district of Marrakwene (north of Maputo) in 1934, there was little obvious indication in his early life that Shikani was destined to become the renowned artist he now is. Poverty and hardship for the peasant family he was born into was never very far away from their door. He spent most of his early years until the age of 16 with the other boys from the village, looking after the family's cattle and occasionally attending primary school. But at the age of 12, Shikani had begun to work in clay, sculpting models of animals and people around him. This artistic tendency, he claims, was inherited from his grandfather who had carved masks and religious objects for the surrounding community and had been a traditional healer of some renown.
Shikani recalls that much of what he sculpted in crude materials in those early days has a direct relationship to what he has done in wood and paint. 'I never wanted merely to portray the world around me as it presented itself to my eyes. Objects were simply the starting point for creating something different; a pointer to the world behind the senses.' Shikani relates this perception to the traditional rural background from which he came and the preservation of traditional religious values within the community, which, in his early years, had not been completely eroded by Portuguese colonialism and imported Christianity.
His sculptures, which became more prolific as time went on when he moved into wood, aroused a mixed response in the community where he lived and this, he claims is also the type of reaction his current works arouse among the Mozambican public. While many members of the community seemed able to relate to what he was trying to do and encouraged him to continue, others believed that his sculptures were crude and primitive. 'They were unable to see anything in them in the same way that they were unable to see anything of value in the traditional social, economic and cultural life of our villages.' Shikani believes that this dichotomy continues to exist in African society between those who have been 'brainwashed' in terms of imported culture and those who still retain, however tenuously, some hold on local values and perceptions. 'Part of my aim is to awaken that inclination.'
Within a wider Mozambican society, Shikani's works began to arouse interest and he participated in a number of exhibitions in Maputo and Beira. In his mid-twenties, he became an assistant to a Portuguese sculptor at the Beira Art School where he worked both during and after the liberation struggle for the independence of Mozambique. Shikani acknowledges his debt to the training he received during those years, largely based on Western art techniques and styles, but while he has utilised this knowledge in his subsequent works, his content has remained true to his early formative years in the rural areas. His main subjects are still the peasants of the countryside in the range of their experiences from childhood through to old age and death.
Given the current reality of life in that country today, it is little wonder that many of these images are tortured and painful. Shikani claims that part of his role is to alert an international audience to the reality of millions of people in his own country and other parts of Africa ravaged by famine, war and poverty. But he does not agree that his works are pessimistic or negative. The people and situations he portrays are not without dignity and the last emotion he wishes to evoke in his audience is pity. 'The peasants have suffered for hundreds of years in different parts of the world and yet, despite such hardships, hope and faith have always continued.' It is a vision of his own country and continent that is a welcome contrast to what is usually offered.
by Pascal Berquamp; Samba Ousmane Tour
Rural radio. The term can conjure up broadcasts devoted to extension work, remote from the self-expression and needs of the population and closeted in a broadcasting studio to the detriment of the field - a negative image which has been around for 10 years, ever since the sad revelation of the shortcomings of Africa's rural radios. Now that the media are diversifying and getting their freedom, it is time to do justice to rural radio, which is and will long be the African rural populations' main, if not only, source of information in their own language. A new-style rural radio is emerging. It is closer to the people, run from a network of regional and local stations, and will both involve the rural population and be open to the world at large.
Peul shepherds with their transistors on straps and their eyes on their herds are a common sight all over the Sahel. They listen to the radio without worrying about administrative frontiers. What nationality is the station? If it is broadcasting in the right language, what does the nationality matter? It might be Malian Radio and Television (RTM) and it might be Burkina Faso's rural radio or the Senegalese TV broadcasting office, depending on the area. Radio is the tenuous link between these people and the rest of the world, so how can it be ignored?
Despite competition from television, radio is still the commonest medium of mass communication in the world, particularly in rural Africa. The average is 100 sets per 1000 inhabitants, as against only ten TV sets and, although there is considerable variation within this of course (19 radios per 1000 in Burkina Faso, 173 in Ghana and 215 in Algeria in 1983) i, radio is popular everywhere.
In Africa, the popularity of rural radio is related to a number of different parameters - the size of the rural population, the strength of the oral tradition, the wide diversity of national languages and a high rate of illiteracy. Radio is the best medium in a situation of this kind, but, financial resources being what they are, the job of the national broadcasting systems is difficult, if not impossible. How can, say, national language services be developed in Cameroon when there are more than 200 languages and dialects in addition to French and English?
Awareness, involvement and information
The idea of using the appropriate radio broadcasts to sustain economic and social development in newly independent countries goes back to the early 1960s. It was called educational radio to begin with and then rural educational radio or rural radio, because of course it taught listeners about every aspect of rural life (health, hygiene, agricultural techniques, music and so on). Priority in broadcasting was on the national languages and listeners got together in groups and clubs to tune in to the programmes. These were the of the Radio Clubs Niger and the rural motivation units of Chad, Mali and Upper Volta.
Governments realised what was at stake and how useful the medium was as a means of economic and social development. But, as Jean Pierre Ilboudo said, 'Rural radio concentrated too much on a reductionist approach to development, bringing it down to nothing more than an increase in agricultural output. Socioeconomic change was not dealt with globally and political action was rejected in favour of social mobilisation. Disoo, Senegal's educational rural radio, dropped the school-teacher approach so far removed from the prime concerns of the rural populations in 1968. It questioned the idea of vertical communication and went for dialogue and was designed as a general programme on integrated rural development.
Journalists now went out and met their audiences face-to-face, setting up events in the villages as opportunities both for recording and for making people aware of what was going on. Population involvement was the order of the day. After Disoo, rural radio in Burkina Faso and Burundi, for example, went from strength to strength (with help from bilateral and international cooperation), although it has run out of steam in recent years. A look at rural radio as a whole shows that the stumbling blocks are:
- inadequate budgets and the impossibility of going out into
- centralised production facilities, all too often sited in urban areas;
- operational difficulties in the interministerial committees responsible for the coordination vital to the programming of rural radio topics and broadcasts;
- the absence of broadcasts in many of the national languages;
- a major economic crisis in many Sahel countries in the 1970s;
- a reduction in international aid (in Congo and Burkina Faso);
- poor population involvement in programme design and production;
- lack of renewal of programmes.
This sad finding is not to deny of the qualities of rural radio, however. The programmes are, first and foremost, a means of informing people, of making them aware of different issues and of mobilising them. Decision-makers, field projects and cooperation institutions still appreciate their flexibility and their ability to get a dialogue going with the rural world. Rural radio is extremely cost-effective as a means of action too. It is right for the job. It just needs updating.
Fast-moving trends and rapid diversification
At the dawn of the 1980s, rural radio was too didactic and too far removed from its audiences. It needed to be redefined, to make a better job of involving the people, to decentralise and to develop its financial independence.
The desire to get closer to the rural audiences is all-important. There will be no economic, social or human development for the rural populations unless they are encouraged to participate and express themselves. CESAO's John Madjri said that there was a dialectic relationship between freeing expression and freeing initiative. Radio messages were useful in the eyes of the peasants, he said, but all the rural radios combined only did half the work, the freeing of expression did not go the whole way and what the peasants had to say was obscured. People were therefore afraid to commit themselves and take the initiative.
By letting the people actually concerned say what they think, radio provides information and sets the example. When personal experience is broadcast, it triggers emulation and the effect is reinforced by the closeness of the speaker. Listeners want to meet him and find out more about what he did - something which is only possible when the rural radio station is nearby.
Should rural radio be local or should it be regional ? The problem is not posed in those terms. Decentralisation is vital. Regional stations are broadcasting in more languages and getting closer to the rural populations. Governments at first worried about them doing too much to encourage distinctive regional peculiarities to the detriment of national unity; now they are resigned to promoting them. The same goes for local rural radio, which is more suitable when it comes to involving the people in their own development. AGECOOP has been developing a specific programme to help local rural radios since 1991 and there are plans for four stations per country in Congo, the CAR, Cameroon, Guinea Mali and Benin, with an overhaul of the local radio stations in Burkina Faso.
National, regional and local radio stations must now be seen as part of a network, each with its own particular job of producing broadcasts, exchanging programmes, filling time slots and using the different languages of the national community.
Typical of the new trend is Guinea's rural radio, a project supported by Swiss cooperation and the FAO (training) which emerged in 1989, after a good look at the successes and failures of African rural radio over the previous 20 years. This radio comes under a different directorate-general, independent of national radio and television; it has two regional stations, one broadcasting in Fulani from Labin Moyenne Guin and one in Malinke from Kankan (Haute Guin. The other two regions are soon to have two stations of their own. The setting up of local radios under the AGECOOP programme will also mean better services for various specific audiences. The budget comes from an annual allocation from the State and large contributions from schemes run by international organisations and NGOs with communications sections. One priority is to achieve proper financial autonomy and Guinea's rural radio has brought in clear economic rules of partnership with this in mind - a hard line which can only work with the statutes which render official its independence and administrative autonomy.
Any revival of rural radio is dependent on these new financial conditions. These stations must be able to generate some of their own resources and manage them completely independently. This is a sine qua non both of their survival and of national support.
After more than 30 years of monopoly, the media are beginning to open up a little. There are three trends on the African radio scene - privatisation, decentralisation and internationalisation. Towns are going to be the first to have private, commercial and association radio stations. This is already happening in Burkina Faso, where Horizon FM is authorised to broadcast in the capital, and in Bamako, where two private, association stations also broadcast on FM. Mali is the first country in West Africa clearly to announce the freedom of the air waves. Public radio stations, rural radio included, are going to have to face this competition - and competition may lead to emulation but, as Cheikh Sylla, head of Guinea's rural radio, said, 'there is a strong risk of losing sight of development objectives if there is too much privatisation of stations.' Another change is internationalisation, with foreign stations taking advantage of the more open attitude.
RFI Plus Afrique, for example, now has local FM transmitters in Dakar and Cotonou, putting its own programmes on the air in the capital cities of Senegal and Benin, but keeping time for national broadcasts too. Dencentralisation is the right response here.
Capitalising on human potential
It would be wrong to think that rural radio can be given a new lease of life without proper attention to the hopes and needs of its staff. All too often, people posted to rural broadcasting have felt they have been pushed into a siding or forgotten. But times are changing. Not only must rural radio have better status and better material means. The producers and journalists must be motivated too, and developing their activity and giving them the means with which to work is a priority. Training, basic and continuing, is a fundamental need and CIERRO (see box) is coming up to expectations in French-speaking countries, but the English-speaking centre, scheduled to open in Namibia, is still on the drawing board. The various international organisations are ploughing more and more resources into training. The FAO, for example, has been doing so for 20 years now, particularly for rural radio in Guinea, Chad and Mauritania, and a special approach has been developed there under the leadership of Frans Querre.
The CTA has been developing a rural radio and scientific, technical, agricultural and rural information programme for the ACPs since 1989 (see box). This is designed to meet the demand from heads of ACP rural radio stations which concentrate on training. The CTA responds with regional workshops, which improve professional skills and are an opportunity for participants to discuss the* experience.
More than ever before, listening to and providing training for rural radio producers and journalists is a way of guaranteeing that they are efficient and can communicate with the rural world.
PB & SOT
The Inter-African Rural Radio Study Centre in Ouagadougou, set up in 1978, is a permanent centre of the URTNA (Union of National Radio and Television Organisations of Africa), which promotes study and research into communication science in the rural environment. It runs a two-year training course for about 20 rural radio producers and technicians from French-speaking countries of Africa and has turned out 139 graduates from 15 countries in its 14 years of existence. German cooperation accounts for the bulk of the financing, with the balance coming from the URTNA, Burkina Faso and AGECOOP.
This is the only centre of its kind in Africa and it is now broadening its scope with regular advanced rural radio training sessions, workshops and seminars, with particular emphasis on communication in the rural environment. It has forged many links with German cooperation over the years and with the FAO, UNICEF, UNESCO, AGECOOP, Swiss cooperation, AMARC (Canada), the John-Paul II Foundation, the CTA, GRET and CILSS, all of which have co-organised meetings and continue to contribute to programmes and projects. CIERRO has been a member of the steering committee for the CTA programme on rural radio and scientific, technical, agricultural and rural information from the beginning and, in 1989, it co-organised the programme's inaugural workshop in Ouagadougou with GRET and the CTA.
The CTA at work
The CTA's rural radio and scientific and technical information programme is l being implemented in the light of the final report of the Ouagadougou inaugural seminar run at CIERRA, in conjunction with GRET, in 1989. Since 1990, the first year of operation, the CTA has developed a number of schemes to help the ACP countries by:
- distributing Spore, its half-yearly review in French and English, to radio stations throughout the ACP group;
- setting up a data base of all producers, journalists and heads of rural radio and farming news services in the ACP countries
- bringing out specific STI information packs for radio producers;
- organising and running regional workshops providing advanced training in STI utilisation and research to help rural producers and journalists in the ACP countries.
The rural radio-STI training workshops were run at Sevoza, the Voice of Zaire Studio school in Kinshasa, and at Zamcom, the Zambia Institute of Mass ´Cornmunication in Lusaka, in 1990 and at Kimc, the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication in Nairobi, and Iftic, the Information Technology and Communications Training Institute in Niamey, in 1991.
The STI topic for 1991 was agro-forestry. During stage one, critical listening, each country proposed a 15-25 minute broadcast (documentary, magazine, drama etc) on this subject. The comparing of ideas and working methods made for an exchange of information and a round-up of everyone's views which was much appreciated by the producers and journalists. An introduction to the national broadcasting services and a progress report on the documentary research undertaken for the reports completed these sessions.
In phase two of the workshop, the different groups had the opportunity to produce 20-minute broadcasts in the field and try out what they had learnt from the critical listening. Topics included trees and rice in combination, agriculture and the environment, improved stoves, brush fires and eucalyptus trees.
At the end, the participants said that they had been made aware of the need for stringency in work and documentary research and were ready to reconcile STI with the rules of the art of writing for radio so as to reach the biggest rural audience possible. Two workshops were scheduled for 1992 - in Ghana (for the English-speaking countries of western Africa) and Mauritius (French-speaking countries of the Indian Ocean).
These radio staff - 'enablers', as they like to describe themselves - make a vital contribution to CTA action. A network of broadcasters is gradually taking shape and the CTA will continue to give it support with its rural radio and STI programme, backing rural radio and farm news services in the ACP countries.
Economic management in Africa
I am a regular reader of your magazine and have always found the articles in your Dossiers very interesting, informative and educational. The recent Dossier on Africa (Issue 134) is no exception. It really touches my heart as an African who is concerned about why our continent remains the least developed region of the world despite all its material and human resources, the commodity booms of the 1970s and a decade of structural adjustment programmes. It is obvious that something is wrong somewhere.
After more than 30 years of African independence, very little has been achieved. Standards of living fall daily. The continent cannot feed its population to the required calorific level. Much of Africa is still ruled by authoritarian and corrupt leaders who get steadily richer despite the continual degradation of African economic development.
While l agree with what Daniel Etounga-Manguelle said in his interview - that there are some aspects of our culture that limit industrial development in Africa - I should point out that economic management is no less a sine qua non. Under the pretext of economic policy, our leaders have tended to adopt cosmetic policies and even where the effort is a genuine one, it is not always conscientiously implemented by those in charge. In Africa, politics and government posts are seen as means of accumulating wealth, not of serving the people. Some heads of state and government officials have used their offices to enrich themselves to the extent that some are even richer than their nations.
The most painful thing is that these corrupt leaders have siphoned off the limited and hard-earned foreign exchange revenues of their countries - sending the money back to western banks which then return some of the funds to Africa in the form of credits and loans at high rates of interest. The remainder stays in the European banking system where it used to develop the local economy. Switzerland provides an obvious example of this.
I believe that if the problems of economic management are not solved, there will be no signifcant improvement, no matter the amount of money spent on the continent.
Another and most useful help which could be rendered to Africa can be found in what Edgard Pisani said in his interview. Although it might sound naive, it is a very important issue. The West should no longer allow corrupt African leaders to keep misappropriated money in their banks. Such monies should be confiscated in the way that drug receipts are - and then returned to Africa through the IMF or the World Bank to finance development in the region. Billion of dollars which should have been used to develop Africa are currently tucked away in Western banks.
Now that the cold war has ended, there is the likelihood that less economic assistance win be directed towards Africa. Europe may prefer to invest in the newly opened economies of Eastern Europe rather than the more distant and less important (both politically and economically) African countries. In these circumstances, domestic savings and the continent's limited export earnings - accompanied by sound economic management and accountability of the leadership - will take on even greater significance.
Bashir Obasekola, Moscow, Russia
In defence of Kenneth Kaunda
In your Dossier (A Fresh Look at Africa), in Issue 134, you published an article by Father Ives Chituba Bantungwa.
I read this article, with great interest as regards the subject matter, but with considerable unease as regards its content. I feel that Father Bantungwa somewhat overstates the positive role played by his Church. Above all, he seems unable to conceal his hostility towards former President Kenneth Kaunda. He is in a better position than I to criticise the negative effects of the single party system but, in 1992, this is hardly original - even for an African.
His hostility leads him to forget some fundamental elements when he writes '... the situation in Zambia is different' (from that of other African countries). 'The country boasts several favourable factors'.
Can he be too young to remember that during the 'decade of development' (the 1960s), President Kaunda was known as a credible 'humanist Christian'? In which of his books was it that Renumont wrote: 'I have met almost all of the world's statesmen ... I have only found one who is a Christian. He is black. He is President Kenneth Kaunda' (I am quoting from memory.)
In 1991, it took all of the integrity of this son of a minister turned statesman to organise free elections, prohibit violence and - something which is rare in Africa - accept at once the verdict with such remarkable dignity.
Others - whether from Togo, Cameroon or Madagascar - would surely have preferred to have a dictator who actually respected the rights of the people, as President Kaunda did,
Robert Martel, Lezay, France (formerly of the 'Centre des Hautes Etudes sur l'Afrique et l'Asie moderne')
Un Vent du Sud - Terres d'espoir (Wind from the South - Lands of Hope) - Orchid - L'Harmattan - Paris 1992
Describing the South and rectifying the sometimes distorted image of it which parts of the media have managed to convey in the countries of the North is, basically, what the Orchid collection is all about and, contrary to what we have sometimes been led to believe, there is more to it than harping on poverty and catastrophe. Africa, Asia and Latin America do indeed have their problems, but theirs are lands rich in human resources and economic potential and their people fight for survival day by day without folding their arms and waiting for the manna to fall from the North. This other South is also entitled to say what it thinks.
This book sets out to re-write history and add the pages which standard works have missed out or overlooked. The colonials did not start a great period of history when they went out to these countries. They stopped it. There is no question of lamenting the fact here, but of setting out to win back the past - that collective memory which binds a people together - and thereby getting a better understanding of the present and control over the future.
Orchid, set up in France in 1981, is an organisation of development professionals and four NGOs - La Cimade, Frs des Hommes, the Comitatholique contre la faim and Terre des Hommes - and its documentaries on the South have been shown on both French and foreign channels. We who are more used to watching should now learn to listen, so perhaps we can then understand the part which story-telling plays in Africa and Asia.
This collection of contributions from professionals and other enthusiasts about the South recounts the everyday experience of location work, magically linked to the countries and the peoples on film. It is a far cry from the myths which some people try to create around picture making, for not only is the smallest penchant for the cinema encouraged here, but neophytes are shown which avenues to take and given the means of moving along them, so 'communication' and 'information' really mean something. Orchid' aims, achievements and plans come alive in this account, which begins with a conversation between a team as united as it is cosmopolitan.
What marks this book out, other than that it was designed as a teaching aid, is the narrative, the personal accounts of people filmed or encountered on location and of the no less interesting Orchid team, each describing how he or she discovered the South. Each location (log books) is described by two different people, giving two different views, two different ways of seeing things and so on. The topics they discuss - health, population, farming, women and development, integrated tourism and more - are dealt with in their cultural context and contrive to arouse curiosity about other aspects of the countries, their history and their traditions which the reader must then satisfy for himself.
Each documentary, and each topic/country therefore, is presented as a teaching resource pack combining a technical data sheet, an outline of the content, subjects for personal research or group work and back-up information in the shape of a bibliography, a discography and some useful addresses - an invitation to a voyage of discovery and, of course, very useful for the student, teacher or ordinary reader. Our team sees films as windows on the world. Let us therefore look through them.
Orchid lights the way for anyone who has discovered a new vocation but is finding it difficult to take the first steps along the windy audio-visual road. Everyone will be interested in the additional information - useful addresses, lists of available periodicals and videos, art and craft, a bibliography, a filmography, guides and more.
Ben Said Dia
Oruno D. Lara - Caras en construction: espace, colonisation, rstance (Caribbean under Construction - Space colonisation and resistance) - Two volumes - Editions CERCAM - 636 pages - 1992
These two volumes, from an arts and humanities doctoral thesis, recount the history of the Caribbean from the beginnings right down to the present day, a lengthy undertaking which involved a critical analysis of source material from archives in Europe, the USA and the Caribbean. From these varied sources, the writer, Head of the Caribbean Institute for international Humanities and Social Science Research in Guadeloupe and the Caribbean-America Research Centre at the University of Paris X (Nanterre), has unravelled a thread which, like Ariadne's, enables him to find his way in the Labyrinth of history.
The Caribbean itself reflects its island make-up, the ever-present water of its oceans, rivers, streams and canals, the unceasing dialogue of its atmospheric and ocean currents and the diversity of its people. The personality of this infinitely variable world comes through in many aspects of its historical heritage, its politics, its economy and its culture. And it is by looking at this history that the necessary distinctions can be made.
On one side are strange and exotic visions, confusion and servitude. On the other, space perceived endogenously, with its structures, its contradictions and its diversity, only revealed to the initiated in a process of resistance as old as its American and African origins.
Caribbean history did not begin in 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, Mr Lara points out, but thousands of years before that, when ancient Olmec, Maya, Aztec and Inca civilisations came swarming there.
He starts by criticising the vocabulary inherited from the colonial era. What justification is there, say, for talking about the West Indies, Indians, the Antilles, the metropolis and things metropolitan or even just overseas five hundred years after 1492?
Using a generative system, he has produced an historical space, taking the pre-history, proto-history and geodynamics of the Caribbean as the starting point and bringing in data from recent archaeological research to pinpoint the origins of the indigenous population. He sheds light on the cultures interlarded in the four major civilisations - the megalithic civilisation of San Agustin (Colombia) and the culture of Calima, Quimbaya, Tairona, Chibcha and Muisca which gave birth to the legend of El Dorado. He devotes pages to little-known native music and dance. And he criticises the dual Carib-Arawak idea of the Europeans, deals with Colombus' cannibals and discusses the five chiefdoms of the caziques of Haiti.
Under the shock of conquest, the Caribbean underwent a metamorphosis. The author criticises the vision of the conquerors, their ethnocentric attitudes and the illusion of discovery (the Old World opposed to the New World) paving the way for historical and geographical manipulation. A long introduction to Portugal, which 'opened the way', is followed by a look at the process of extermination, expropriation and pillage which followed the conquest.
Not for him the exoticism or the clichof the traditional historiographer, for this writer forces us to take notice of the internal geodynamics of this part of the Americas and the Caribbean emerges from his enthralling enquiry with its own specific morphology and powerful historical personality.
'Satellite City and other stories'; Alecia McKenzie; Longman Caribbean Writers; 1992; Bfr 340
This is Alecia McKenzie's first collection of short stories although she has worked as a journalist. Born in Jamaica and educated in Kingston, she went on to study Art and Spanish in Alabama and Journalism at Columbia University, New York. She is living in Belgium and teaches at the Free University of Brussels.
The stories are about individuals and, through the events surrounding them, readers are introduced to the people of modern Jamaica - their lifestyles and ambitions. There are few descriptive passages, each story has real characters and we are merely eavesdropping upon their lives. We learn of the violence and poverty of the shanty towns, the aspirations to emulate the USA as seen on satellite TV, the disillusionment of those who leave the island to seek a better life, often abandoning their children to be brought up by grandmothers, the sexual complexities, where illegitimacy is commonplace, and the political environment. The divide between the lifestyle and education of the rich and the poor is graphically illustrated.
The thirteen stories are diverse and interesting in their format. Some give only a glimpse of perhaps a day in the life of the characters, some are a straightforward narration of events whilst in others the plot is unravelled in stages with flashbacks or brief comments casting light upon the actual events. Occasionally the author puts her characters' speech into the local dialect but it is easily understood and does not detract from the readability of the story - instead it enhances the atmosphere.
I enjoyed reading this book and my only complaint is that a couple of the stories left me wondering what happened next and I found this slightly frustrating. The characters portrayed are authentic and intriguing and the reader absorbs much about the culture of Jamaica. I hope the author will treat us to a second volume soon.
Jacques Delors - Le nouveau concert europ (Europe in harmony) Editions Odile Jacob, 15 rue Soufflot, 75005 Paris - 351 pages - FF 130 - 1992
This is a collection of speeches by Jacques Delors, President of the Commission of the European Communities, over the past seven years. They are divided, by subject, into chapters, each starting with an historical commentary, and completed by a list of dates, from 18 July 1984 (Jacques Delors' appointment as President of the Commission) to December 1991.
In the preface, the author maintains that 1992, being a year of outstanding European events, is the prime time for publishing a work of this kind. He aptly quotes Andriegfried, well-known to generations of political science students, who warned, back in 1935, that 'there is quite obviously a crisis in Europe. After a long period of predominance, expected to last for ever at the time, the Old World is experiencing the first threats to its hegemony.' We all know what happened. It began in May 1948, with delegates at the Congress of The Hague obsessed with the idea of peace - a peace which Member States have enjoyed in the European Communities for more than 45 years now, thanks, in particular, to the Monnet method of 'forging links of positive interdependence between our countries'. This has to be continued in 1992.
One of the six subject-chapters of this book is of particular interest to us here and that is the one which includes the speech on the Community and Africa made to the Senegalese National Assembly in Dakar on 2 May 1991. This stresses the means of a new partnership provided under LomV, that constantly evolving instrument which includes, in particular, a privileged system of trade, a set of programme resources, insurance mechanisms and a structural adjustment support facility. 'It is clear,' says Jacques Delors, that further-reaching democracy and economic and social development are indivisible.' And not just in Africa either
EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT FUND
Following favourable opinions from the EDF Committee, the Commission has decided to provide grants and special loans from the 5th, 6th and 7th EDFs to finance the following operations:
Grenada: ECU 1.58 million for farm road rehabilitation.
Kenya/Tanzania: ECU 48 million for the Musoma-Sirari-lsebania-Mukuyo road.
Ghana: ECU 320000 for support to the wood sector.
Tanzania: ECU 1.95 million for a 'Management Assessment and Privatisation Study' for Morogoro-Canvas Mill.
Djibouti: ECU 1.96 million for craft promotion.
Senegal: ECU 10.5 million for a support programme in the phosphate sector (Phase 2)
Mauritania: ECU 2.5 million for gold prospecting.
Burundi: ECU 1.91 million for training in the context of rural development programmes.
Guinea-Bissau: ECU 1.5 million to support students studying overseas.
Nigeria: ECU 11.5 million for a university library project.
Burundi: ECU 18 million to develop sanitary facilities in the provinces of Bubanza, Cibitoke, Cankuzo, Rutana and Ruyigi.
EIER/ESTHER: ECU 2.8 million for the construction of housing for teaching staff.
Belize: ECU 4.2 million for the New Belize City Hospital.
Antigua & Barbuda: ECU 130 000 for livestock development (Phase 2).
ECOWAS Member States: ECU X million for improvement of post harvest utilisation of artisanal fish catches in West Africa
Guinea: ECU 14 million for a General Import Programme (GIP).
Kenya: ECU 4.4 million for the conservation and management of natural forests.
Nigeria: ECU 25 million for a programme in the arid zone of Katsina.
Kenya: ECU 1.96 million to assist the election process.
Benin: ECU 1.21 million in institutional support for the Ministry of Planning.
Senegal: ECU 1.3 million for a programme of action connected with the elections.
Nigeria: ECU 1.3 million for an 'Urgent Assessment' of the News Agency of Nigeria.
Central African Republic: ECU 1.2 million for the National Laboratory of Buildings and Public Works.
Lesotho: ECU 8.5 million for a structural adjustment support programme.
All ACPs: ECU 15 million (proposal for a global commitment) to finance aid for refugees, returnees and displaced persons.
Rwanda: ECU 3.5 million for institutional support.
The EIB has made the following loans:
Mauritius: ECU 2.6 million for the building of a factory for milk products destined for the internal Mauritius market.
Guinea-Bissau: ECU 7 million for the restoration and extension of the Bissau thermal power station.
Tro visits to Somalia
The Tro of Community Foreign Ministers (from the present, previous and forthcoming Council Presidencies - currently the United Kingdom, Portugal and Denmark), visited Mogadishu on 4 September.
The purpose of the visit was to emphasise the concern of the Community and its Member States about the situation in Somalia, to prepare the visit of the Tro of Development Ministers on 12-13 September, and to show EC support for the UN role in Somalia.
The Troika met Ambassador Sahnoun, Coordinator for the UN agencies, and representatives of the many NGOs active in the field. The Ministers visited a feeding station run by the Save the Children Fund and a UNICEF/Swedish displacement camp in Mogadishu. They also went to Digfer hospital and the headquarters of the UN Mission.
The Troika of Development Ministers and Commission Vice-President Manuel Marin visited Kenya and Somalia from 12-14 September.
The Prime Minister of Rwanda
On 16 September, Dieter Frisch met Mr D. Nsengiyaremye, Prime Minister of Rwanda since April 1992, who was on an official visit to Belgium and, for the first time, to the European Commission.
The meeting provided an opportunity to take stock of the current state of relations between the Community and Rwanda and to review the principal aspects of cooperation between the two countries.
Mr Nsengiyaremye informed Mr Frisch about progress towards democratisation as well as about the present situation and outlook for the negotiations with the FPR. The Prime Minister also sought continuing support from the Community for the economic reform process, as well as additional assistance to meet the immediate needs of people who had been displaced as a result of the events in recent years.
Annual Report on the Single Market
With only a few weeks to go before the I January 1993 deadline for the Single Market, more than 90% of the measures envisaged in the White Paper have now been adopted by the Twelve. This is the main feature of the latest annual progress report on the establishment of the Single Market which Vice-President Marin Bangemann recently submitted to the Commission.
This positive overall assessment relates to important areas such as the opening-up of public procurement, European norms, the liberalisation of the markets in financial services, the liberalisation of capital movements and the right of abode of citizens. The changes introduced in the field of technical norms, the freedom to provide services and public procurement have already brought about a fundamental modernisation of the working environment for companies, favourable to their competitiveness in external markets.
The number of problem areas is diminishing. This is the case particularly in the area of indirect taxation, with movement towards decisions on the harmonisation of VAT rates and excise duties. It is also true of transport policy, with the adoption of the final phase in the liberalisation of air transport and of cabotage rules for sea and inland waterway transport. The only important dossiers still awaiting decision by the Council concern the creation of a Community trade mark and the establishment of a European company statute.
France votes 'Yes' to Maastricht Treaty
In the referendum held on 20 September, the French voted in favour of ratification of the Treaty on European Union, although by a margin of only 2% (51% in favour, 49% against). The turnout was 70%. Support for the Treaty was strongest in Paris, Brittany, the regions bordering Germany/Switzerland and the Overseas Territories and Departments (of which only New Caledonia voted 'No'). The areas of strongest opposition to the Treaty were the North/ Pas de Calais region and the south of the country. There was a notable divergence between urban areas (predominantly 'Yes') and rural ones (predominantly 'No').
The referendum took place after a week of turbulence on the currency markets which saw the European Monetary System come under considerable pressure. One of the centrepieces of the Maastricht Treaty is the establishment, before the end of the decade, of a single European currency. It remains to be seen whether the economic conditions necessary for this can be created within the timescale envisaged. Even if this is achieved, doubts continue over the political will in some Member States, and the equivocal French vote has done little to remove this uncertainty.
EUROPEAN POLITICAL COOPERATION
Statement on Cd'Ivoire 7 August
The Community and its Member States have noted with satisfaction the Government of Cd'Ivoire's decision to release those detained following the regrettable events of February 1992. They sincerely hope that this will prove a significant step towards reconciling the government and opposition parties, which in turn will contribute to the democratic and stable evolution of the country.
Statement on Mozambique 12 August
The Community and its Member States welcome the signature on 7 August by President Chissano of Mozambique and Alfonso Dhlakama, President of Renamo, of a joint declaration comitting them to the signing of a general peace agreement by I October. They recognise the intensive preparatory efforts of both the Government of Mozambique and Renamo parties in reaching this agreement, and pay particular tribute to the mediating role played by President Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The Community and its Member States urge both sides to maintain the goodwill brought about by this breakthrough and to refrain from further armed confrontation so as to prevent additional loss of life before the general peace agreement is reached by October 1. They hope that negotiations will be conducted in earnest to achieve agreement on the outstanding issues, as agreed, by I October. Those Member States currently involved in the peace talks, either as mediators or observers, will continue to provide all necessary advice and assistance to the negotiating parties in Rome to reach the earliest possible agreement.
The Community and its Member States urge that, in the spirit of this agreement, the parties now implement as quickly as possible the agreement of 16 July regarding access for humanitarian relief to those areas of Mozambique most seriously affected by the drought.
Statement on Rwanda 27 August
The Community and its Member States noted with satisfaction the signing in Arusha on 18 August 1992 of a Protocol agreement on the rule of law by the Rwandan government and the 'FPR'.
This measure is the first stage in the political negotiations foreseen in the cease-fire agreement of 12 July 1992 which should lead to the conclusion of a peace agreement.
The Community and its Member States congratulate the two parties on their obvious commitment to achieving peace in the country and urge them to persevere.
Statement on South Africa 8 September
The Community and its Member States strongly condemn the killing and wounding of numerous ANC supporters in Ciskei on 7 September and other recent violent incidents, including the deaths of 10 people in Natal on 4 September. Violence and intolerance have again claimed innocent lives; democratic change has again been threatened. They understand that fudge Goldstone's Commission is investigating the events in Natal. They call on all parties to agree to the extension of the National Peace Accord to cover the so-called 'independent' homelands, and the South African Government to exercise firm control over the security forces throughout South Africa.
During the recent visit to South Africa by the EC Ministerial Tro, the Community and its Member States were invited by all parties to send observers to reinforce the National Peace Accord, as envisaged by UN Security Council Resolution 772. They are responding urgently to this invitation, and stand ready to respond to any further request for help from all parties.
But the future ultimately lies in the hands of South Africans themselves: the peaceful transition to a non-racial democracy needs their wholehearted support. Time is short. The Community and its Member States call on all parties to show restraint, to tackle the violence which threatens their common future through the National Peace Accord, and to build a democratic South Africa through an early and determined return to constitutional negotiations and the establishment of an interim government.
Statement on Zaire 10 September
The Community and its Member States note with satisfaction the election of Prime Minister Tshisekedi by the National Conference and the acceptance of his government by both the Conference and the President. This represents a further step towards democracy in Zaire. The Community and its Member States wish the Government success in working towards creating a climate which will allow peaceful progress towards free and fair elections and social and economic recovery.
Statement on Somalia 13 September
(Issued at the Informal Meeting of Foreign Ministers, 12-13 September, Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, UK)
Following the visits to Mogadishu of the Tro Foreign Ministers on 4 September, and of other EC Ministers, Ministers reviewed the situation in Somalia. The collapse of government in Somalia and the resulting tragedy for its people require the most committed response on the part of the international community.
Ministers paid tribute to the courageous humanitarian work being carried out in Somalia by a number of non-governmental agencies in collaboration with devoted local personnel.
A first requirement now is that the level of outside aid to Somalia should be commensurate with the gravity of the situation. In addition to the efforts made by individual Member States, the Community has collectively made available 185 000 tonnes of food and ECU 15 million of non-food humanitarian assistance this year. The Community has recently committed additional funds to the protection of humanitarian convoys, under UN auspices.
The Community and its Member States appeal to other members of the international community to join with them in increasing the volume of international aid to Somalia.
Priority also attaches to the protection of humanitarian convoys and the distribution of food and medicines in conditions of civil order.
The Community and its Member States call on all political groupings in Somalia to contribute to this end, in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council. They are convinced that a cease-fire in all areas and the deployment of UN armed guards in adequate numbers will facilitate emergency relief work.
The Community and its Member States confirmed their full support for the United Nations' role in Somalia, and in particular, the admirable work of the Secretary-General's representative Ambassador Sahnoun. It is through Ambassador Sahnoun's consultations that legitimate government can be re-established in Somalia.
In the view of the Community and its Member States, none of the Somali factions can lay claim to speak as the legitimate authority in Somalia. They call on the factions to restore legitimate authority through a process of national reconciliation.
Statement on Equatorial Guinea 22 September
On behalf of the Community and its Member States, Heads of Mission in Malabo delivered a drche to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Equatorial Guinea on 16 September. The drche expressed concern about violence used by police when detaining opposition politicians on I September. The Community urged the authorities to release those detained. The drche recalled article 5 of the Fourth Lomonvention (which enjoins recipients of EC aid to respect human rights) and the Resolution on Human Rights, Democracy and Development passed by the Development Council on 28 November 1991.
Special Programme 1992
Progress report as of 2 October: The 1992 Special Programme provides for the delivery of 800 000 tonnes of cereal equivalent, additional to the annual food aid programme. It has a budget of ECU 220 million. There has been significant progress in implementing the programme in recent months. By 2 October, 92.9% of the aid had been mobilised with some 322000 tonnes destined for East Africa, 344000 tonnes for Southern Africa and 77000 tonnes for certain Asian and Latin American countries.
The Council has adopted the regulation providing for urgent action to make food supplies available to the victims of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. This will cost ECU 37.5 million and the supplies will be obtained either from intervention stocks or from the open market.
The Commission recently took the following food aid decision.
WFP: ECU 30.5 million for cereals (60 000 tonnes), powdered, skimmed milk (6000 tonnes), butteroil (1000 tonnes) and vegetable oil (5000 tonnes).
The Commission has recently taken the following emergency aid decisions (including aid to refugees).
EMERGENCY FOOD AID
Mozambique: 15 000 tonnes of cereal equivalent, in the form of seed, (channelled through the International Committee of the Red Cross); 15 000 tonnes of cereal equivalent (direct aid).
UNWRA: 357 tonnes of powdered milk, or substitutes, 116 tonnes of vegetable oil and ECU 530000 for the purchase of other products.
UNHCR: 77 tonnes of powdered milk for Somali refugees in Yemen.
Somalia: 10 000 tonnes of cereals channelled through the ICRC.
OTHER FORMS OF EMERGENCY AID
Angola: ECU 2 million as a contribution to the work of humanitarian organisations working with Angolan returnees and people affected by the conflict and the measles epidemic.
Ethiopia: ECU 750000 for drought victims in Eritrea.
Somalia: ECU 20 million as a contribution to the aid programmes of humanitarian organisations working with people affected by the conflict and the drought.
Nicaragua: ECU 250000 project finance for victims of the recent earthquake and subsequent tidal wave.
Afghanistan: ECU I million for displaced persons and refugees.
Azerbaijan: ECU 500 000 (channelled through Mcins sans Frontis) for victims of the internal troubles in Nagorno-Karabak and Azerbaijan.
Bangladesh: ECU 320 000, following the influx of Rohingya refugees, to promote food production and encourage afforestation.
ECU 200000 to improve the food and hygiene situation of Rohingya refugees.
ECU 240 000 for a sanitation project for Rohingya refugees.
ECU 850 000, channelled through MSF (Netherlands) for care and maintenance of Rohingya refugees.
ECU 230 000, channelled through Terre des Hommes for care and maintenance of Rohingya refugees in the Cox's Bazar area.
Afghanistan: ECU 500 000 for a mine clearance programme in the Shomali Valley.
ECU 1.9 million for an integrated rural development project in south-west Afghanistan.
ECU 2 million for mine clearance projects for Ningarhar and Kundur.
ECU I million for rural rehabilitation projects.
ECU 200 000 for technical assistance to the World Health Organisation.
ECU 500000 for mine awareness programmes.
ECU I 550 000 for a mine clearance project for Western Afghanistan.
Thailand: ECU 1.8 million for care and maintenance (health, nutrition and shelter) of Lao and Vietnamese refugees.
Hong Kong: ECU 2 million, channelled through the UNHCR, for care and maintenance (health and nutrition) of refugees from Vietnam.
Pakistan: ECU 500 000 for an endemic disease control and prevention programme for Afghan refugees and displaced persons.
Guatemalan refugees: ECU 420 000 to improve the self-sufficiency of Guatemalan refugees in Mexico.
Pakistan: ECU 250 000 to help alleviate the effects of the floods.
Philippines: ECU 500 000 to help meet the needs of 50 000 people living in camps following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, and to help avoid the risk of epidemics.
OTHER EC AID
Asean: ECU 6.5 million for an EC-Asean programme for patents and registered trademarks.
Bhutan: ECU 3.5 million for the cultivation of medicinal plants for traditional medicine.
Central American region: ECU 43.5 million to create a trust fund for promoting the export capacity of Central America.
Pakistan: ECU 5.4 million for a development education institute.
The Courier team moved to new premises in early 1992. Visitors are welcome to call at our new offices. Correspondence should continue to be sent to the Commission's postal address.
Postal address (mail only)
'The ACP-EEC Courier' Commission of the European Communities 200, rue de la Loi 1049 Brussels Belgium
The Courier office address (visitors)
1, rue de Gen
AFRICA-CARIBBEAN-PACIFIC - EUROPEAN COMMUNITY
Commission of the European Communities
200, rue de la Loi
1049- BRUSSELS (Belgium)
Tel. 299- 11 - 11 (switchboard)
Telex COMEURBRU 21X77
Mr Dominique David
Roger De Backer
Viviane Jacquet (299-98-55)
Susan Carlier (299-29-77)
Margriet Mahy-van der Werf (299-30-12)