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close this bookNatural Resources Development in the Sahel: The Role of the United Nations System (UNU, 1986, 95 pages)
View the documentPreface
Open this folder and view contents1. The Sahel: Human and environmental overview
Open this folder and view contents2. A history of aid
Open this folder and view contents3. The agencies of the United Nations system and their programmes
View the document4. An overview of other aid organizations
Open this folder and view contents5. Project evaluation
View the documentConclusions
View the documentList of acronyms
View the documentReferences

4. An overview of other aid organizations

While a full review of the aid being provided to the Sahel is beyond the scope of this or perhaps any study, a brief overview is useful if for no other reason than to put UN aid in perspective. Generaily it can be said that the major bilateral and multilateral organizations operate under priorities similar to those of the UN agencies, and they often co-operate with the UN in formulating or executing projects. While these bilateral and multilateral organizations don't have a complex system of technical agencies competing to execute projects, there is often a considerable amount of subcontracting to private enterprise and some funding of nongovernmental organizations to carry out development assistance in the broad sense.

It can also be said that much of the present pattern of development assistance can be traced back to the colonial era. The largest difference is simpiY the number of new multilateral agencies working in the Sahel and the presence of various bilateral programmes from countries that did not provide much development assistance before 1960 (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Japan). France easily remains the largest single donor, contributing over $300 million in 1980, or roughly 20 per cent of all development aid to the Sahel (USAID 1982~. Much of this is used for infrastructure (especially expatriate personnel), budget support, and the provision of services rather than development aid per se. Similarly, the United Kingdom maintains close ties to its former colony of the Gambia, and from 1977 to 1979 more than half of its development aid to the Sahel was directed towards the Gambia. Reiative newcomers, such as the United States and the OPEC countries, direct their aid on a combination of political and economic criteria.

Table 25 demonstrates that the total contribution of all the UN agencies to the Sahel is significantlY less than the individual contributions of the traditional major donors. Since 1975 the proportion of aid derived from the UN system (excluding the World Bank) has remained at just over 5 per cent. Given the recent trends in contributions to both the United Nations and the World Bank, this relative share may well decline over the short term.

TABLE 25. Commitments of leading donors to the Sahel, 1975-1980

  1975-1977 1978-1980
million $ % million $ %
France 575 19.7 840 18.7
EEC 340 11.3 605 13.4
United States 216 7.4 397 8.8
FRG 306 10.5 342 7.6
World Bank 277 9.5 335 7.4
Saudi Arabia 283 9.7 237 5.3
UN agencies 154 5.3 232 5.2
Netherlands 88 3.0 210 4.7
African Development Fund 95 3.3 132 2.9
Others 586 20.1 1,173 26.0
Total 2,920 99.8 4,503 100.1

Sources: USAID 1979b, 1982

Actual disbursemonts typically average 75 per cent of commitments, although this can vary considerably (Cl LSS/Club de Sahel 1981).

Perhaps surprisingly, the multilateral programme of the European Economic Community is the second largest source of aid to the Sahel. Since France, Germany, andthe Netherlands are three of the largest donors to the European Development Fund, their respective contributions to the Sahel are actually larger than indicated. US aid to the Sahel has increased tremendously since the early 1970s, making it the third largest donor over the period 1978-1980. (The argument can again be made that since the United States contributes 20 and 25 per cent of the funds for the World Bank and the United Nations respectively, its real contribution is about 50 per cent greater than indicated This type of accounting, if carried far enough, would be of interest in determining the actual levels of contributions to the Sahei from each country, but it would be extremely difficult to obtain accurate figures.) The Federal Republic of Germany and the World Bank each contribute over $100 million per Year to the Sahel. Saudi Arabia and the UN agencies are ranked sixth and seventh, although Saudi Arabia's share has declined while that of the UN agencies has been relatively constant. In addition to the Netherlands, other significant donors include Kuwait, the African Development Bank, Canada, and Japan. Contributions from this latter group tend to be more variable, and in particular the OPEC countries have found it difficult to maintain their level of assistance given the drop in the price of petroleum and their declining trade balance.

The most striking aspects of aid to the Sahel are the very rapid growth since the drought, the relatively high levels of aid as compared to other developing countries, the shifts in aid due to changing political and economic conditions, and the change from individual projects/emergency assistance to an integrated, long-term programme of development.

TABLE 26. Development assistance commitments by country, 1974-1980 (million $)

  1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 Average annual growth (%)
Chad 72.5 71.6 115.7 86.7 182.9 67.9 35.7 - 6
Gambia 17.0 12. 533.3 38.8 40.8 63.1 98.5 36.6
Mali 125.3 163.3 211.8 183.4 198.6 185.7 208.6 6.4
Mauritania 132.8 81.9 234.2 136.0 136.8 417.5 274.7 19.5
Niger 139.7 121.0 191.7 123.1 190.6 166.2 208.9 6.8
Senegal 141.4 155.3 146.3 166.5 248.0 330.8 287.7 16
Upper Volta 107.4 113.8 120.6 151.0 223.3 203.3 250.5 16.7
Regional activities 18.9 78.1 55.3 77.7 93.0 132.8 60.8 20
Total 754.9 797.4 1,108.8 8963.2 1,314.0 1,567.4 1,425.4  

Source: ClLSS/Club du Sahel 1981

In many ways USAID is typical: In 1973 its personnel involved in the Sahel consisted of only 20 people in regional in offices in Senegal, Niger, and Cameroon. Of the $42 million it had obligated in 1973 for the Sahel, only onequarter was for long-term projects. Recognizing the in" adequacy of this approach, USAID at this time-along with the UN Special Sahelian Office, the European Development Fund, and others-tried to analyse the problems of the Sahel and devise long-term strategies for development.

It was in this transitional period that CILSS and the Club du Sahel were created, and this air of co-operation helped to forge the political will on the part of the donor countries to double emergency and development aid commitments from about $500 million in 1973 to nearly $1,000 million in 1976. Since this doubling took place as the mechanisms for co-operation were being set up and priorities formulated, many of the initial projects were negotiated and signed before official policies had been established. It was this same sudden burst of political will that triggered the initial surge in contributions to accounts such as UNSO's trust fund.

To a large extent the momentum built up at that time has been maintained. Annual aid commitments to the Sahel increased to approximately $1,500 million in 1980. This represents an annual growth rate from 1974 to 1980 of 12 per cent, or 3 per cent in real terms. If one excludes Chad, growth rates are substantially higher.

Table 26 indicates the level of development aid commitments by country since 1974. The small decline from 1979 to 1980 was due primarily to a drop of over $100 million in commitments from the OPEC countries and their financial institutions. Development aid to the Sahel is around $40 per capita, which is three times the average of that to other developing countries (Cl LSSlClub du Sahel 1981). Given the existing commitments to developing the major river basins, the ClLSS/Club du Sahel goals, and the recurring shortages of food, it is unlikely that aid to the Sahel will decline much in absolute terms. On the other hand, it would be unrealistic to expect real growth in aid similar to that experienced in 1973-1979.

As pointed out earlier, the Sahelian countries are dependent on outside funds for almost all their development efforts. Moreover, 90 per cent of the foreign funds invested in the Sahel are classified as official development assistance. Of the remaining 10 per cent, over half are export credits. Thus, outside private investment in the Sahel is very small indeed (ClLSS/Ciub du Sahel 1981), and a totally inadequate basis for development.

Of the $1,500 million in assistance to the Sahel in 1980, approximately two-thirds was in the form of grants. The proportion, however, varies significantly among the different donors, presumably reflecting their respective philosophies regarding foreign aid. The traditional donors - the OECD countries - provided 86 per cent of their aid to the Sahel in the form of grants. In contrast, only one-third of the aid from the OPEC countries has been in the form of grants. OPEC aid, however, is largely untied - i.e. the recipient is not bound to obtain products and expertise solely from the donor country. This is in marked contrast to the policies of the OECD countries (Sardar 1981). Many of the OPEC countries also devote a much higher proportion of their GNP to development assistance. In 1980, for example, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates each devoted 2-4 per cent of their GNP to development assistance, as compared to 0.27 per cent for the United States, 0.62 per cent for France, and 0.43 per cent for West Germany. These latter figures are significantly below the World Bank's recommendation that the industrialized countries should provide 0.7 per cent of their GNP as development assistance.

Another means of indicating the political nature of aid is to examine the debt of the Sahelian countries. In particular, there is a sharp contrast between the pattern of aid just described and the pattern of indebtedness. For example, Mauritania alone accounts for three-quarters of the debt of all Sahelian countries to the OPEC countries but only one-fifth of the total indebtedness. This is presumably due to the fact that Mauritania is largely Moslem, and OPEC aid-particularly in the beginning-was directed towards other Islamic countries. Similarly, Mali accounts for nearly all the Sahel-wide debt to the centrally planned economies, and this dates primarily from its close ties to the USSR shortly after independence (ClLSS/Club de Sahel 1981). Senegal had the highest debt in 1981, $944 million-followed by Mauritania ($827 million), Mali ($738 million), Niger ($605 million), Upper Volta ($296 million), Chad ($201 million), and the Gambia ($71 million) (OECD 1981;World Bank 1983). Expressed as percentage of GNP, Mauritania's debt was the highest at 122 per cent, followed by that of Mali at B5 per cent. Senegal had to reschedule its debt in 1 981 and 1982, while Chad, the Gambia, and Mali were all behind in their payments during the same period.

The pattern of debt for the other countries generally reflects the pattern of aid, with the industrialized countries carrying nearly half and multilateral institutions responsible for another quarter. In many cases the industrialized countries are simply converting past loans to grants, thereby avoiding having to provide new loans to make payments on past loans. Even though none of the Sahelian countries has been in serious danger of defaulting, this practice of cancelling past loans in lieu of repayment is likely to increase. For many of the older loans, interest rates are so low that repayment is primarily a political and symbolic act and of little economic significance to the lender.

In view of the variation in the amount and type of development assistance, it should not be surprising that development priorities also vary widely among donors. To a large extent this can be traced to the respective areas of competence of the donors, their perception of development priorities, and their future economic needs. Japan, for example, tends to concentrate on fisheries, mining, and transport, which are all areas in which Japan has considerable expertise. The first two can also be considered relevant to Japan's perceived long-term needs for food and raw materials. On the other hand, Canada is a relatively resource-rich country, so its emphasis on infrastructure, forestry, and agriculture can be ascribed to its expertise and perception of priorities.

This variation in donor assistance must somehow be reconciled with the designation by the Club du Sahel of self-sufficiency in food as the first priority of development. Although annual fluctuations in project financing make it difficult to identify trends, the fastest-growing aid sectors have, in fact, been forestry, mining, and basic budget/balance-of-payments support. The rapid relative increase in the first two of these-forestry and mining - is due partly to the very low level of support they received in the mid-1970s. Thus, by 1980 they still accounted for only 7.0 and 2.4 per cent of all development assistance respectively. The rapid increase in budget support is a much more ominous sign; in 1980 over 20 per cent of ail development assistance was used for this purpose.

Another sign that only limited progress has been made towards development in general and food self-sufficiency in particular is the fact that food aid has increased at the same rate as general development assistance. For the period 1975-1980 food aid accounted for approximately 10 per cent of all foreign assistance. Overall, the pror~ortion of assistance devoted to irrigated and rain-fed agriculture has increased, while livestock projects are receiving proportionately less funding than before.

Commitments for education have increased slightly faster than the overall increase in development aid. Increasing amounts of aid have also been directed towards infrastructure, which is one of the largest sectors for development assistance. Transport is viewed as a key element in facilitating future development, and there has been a large co~operative effort to improve the basic road system.

In summary, CILSS and the Club du Sahel are trying to establish priorities for the various donor agencies to follow, but these are non-binding. The donor agency must still respond to its own internal policies, the directives of the government, and the expertise and orientation of the country as a whole. inevitably these local considerations have the highest priority.

In addition to these large-scale programmes that operate through governments and multilateral bodies, there are a number of governmental, quasi-governmental, and private groups whose collective contributions considerably increase the total amount of aid indicated in table 24. Data on these is very sketchy, but it is possible to give an indication of the type and magnitude of assistance being provided.

Nearly every industrialized country, for example, has some kind of official volunteer programme and an assortment of private volunteer organizations. In general, financial and material support for these volunteers is relatively small, but the value of the donated and often skil led labour can be quite significant. Since outside experts are typically the largest single cost of development assistance projects, a substitution of volunteers can effectively double the size of a given project. In practice, however, volunteers are often placed as teachers in local schools or other situations where the opportunities for positive change are limited. The number of volunteers is difficult to determine, but the Peace Corps figure of 500 volunteers in 1979 (GAO 1979) would suggest that there might be as many as 5,000 volunteers in the Sahel.

Probably exceeding the impact of the volunteers are the activities of the various private relief and development organizations. Data on these are even harder to come by, but total voluntary contributions have been estimated to equal about 10 per cent of offical development assistance, or 0.03 per cent of GNP (ODM 1978). Project listings imply that most are church-based, although not necessarily denominational. Ranging from Catholic Relief Services to the World Council of Churches and Oxfam, these organizations usually operate on a semi-volunteer basis and are involved in a wide variety of projects, including afforestation, education, health care, and the development of cottage industries. It should be noted that these types of programmes usually originate in and are funded by those countries which contribute the most to development on a governmental level-i.e. the Western industrialized countries. Voluntary grants are estimated to equal 20 per cent of official development assistance in the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany and 29 per cent in Switzerland. In some countries these private organizations receive significant government support, and this again makes it difficult to obtain reliable statistics.

A more significant way to present figures on voluntary assistance is to express them in terms of GNP, and a list of donor countries ranked on this basis has a somewhat different order from one based on official development assistance. Norway (0.07 per cent), Sweden (0.06 per cent), and the United States and Canada (each 0.05 per cent) are among the most generous, while the voluntary contributions of France and Italy are estimated at less than 0.01 per cent of GNP. Altogether roughly $2,000 million dollars a year is transferred on a voluntary basis (ODM 1978), and, although this may be fairly limited in absolute terms, it is again the real value of the labour and expertise which must be considered. Furthermore, such assistance is untied and generally carried out on a grass-roots basis, so the impact is by no means a simple function of expenditure. In a recent review of anti-desertification efforts, for example, the executive director of UNEP indicated that small-scale projects run by non-governmental organizations were far more effective than large downward-directed projects (Tolba 1984). This tacit admission of failure, combined with the explicit recognition that the problem of desertification in the Sahel is becoming worse (Berry 1984), suggests that there is a need to look in greater detail at both current and past development efforts. Project evaluation is the general topic of the next chapter.