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close this bookReversing the Spiral - The Population, Agriculture, and Environment Nexus in Sub-Saharan Africa (WB, 1994, 320 p.)
close this folder10. Managing the natural resource base
View the documentProduction versus protection
View the documentForests
View the documentNatural resource management in farming areas
View the documentDryland and range areas
View the documentWater
View the documentCommon elements
View the documentThe role of governments
View the documentNational environmental action plans

National environmental action plans

The development of national environmental resource management strategies must be a national affair. The main instrument for this process is the National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP). NEAPs are currently being prepared or implemented with World Bank support by most African countries. They should contain strategies for addressing all of the issues of the nexus. The NEAP concept is multisectoral in approach, and oriented to bottom-up participatory planning and implementation. It provides a framework for integrating environmental concerns with social and economic planning within a country. The objective is to identity priority areas and actions, develop institutional awareness and processes, and mobilize popular participation through an intensive consultation process with NGOs and community representatives. Donor collaboration can also be effectively mobilized in this manner.

A successful national approach to environmental concerns involves several important steps:

· Establishing policies and legislation for resource conservation and environmental protection that are integrated into the macroeconomic framework and, if possible, assessing the costs of degradation. These were, for example, estimated to be between 5 and 15 percent of GNP in Madagascar and more than 5 percent of GDP in Ghana.

· Setting up the institutional framework, usually involving a ministerial or higher-level environmental policy body, developing mechanisms for coordination between agencies, building concern in these agencies, balancing private and public sector concerns, decentralizing environmental management, and assuring continuous contact with local people .The preparation of regional land use plants could be an important component The basic framework needed to guide the implementation of land tenure reform, forest policy reform, and other elements discussed above can also be included in NEAPs.

· Strengthening national capacity to carry out environmental assessments and establishing environmental information systems. This can be done to some extent by restructuring wasting data and making them available to users. Pilot demand-driven information systems should also be initiated to strengthen national capacity to monitor and manage environmental resources. Local and regional research capacity will be crucial to the development of plant varieties and technologies which are truly adapted to local conditions

· Developing human resources through formal and on-the-job training; introducing environmental concerns into educational curricula and agricultural extension messages; and increasing public awareness through media coverage, general awareness campaigns, and extension services.

· Establishing Geographical Information Systems (GISs) that incorporate adequate environmental information. Lack of operationally meaningful and reliable environmental data is a major problem. It tends to result in misconceptions about natural resource problems and the consequent risk that policy measures will be misdirected. Urgent needs include assessments of forest cover, soil erosion and soil capability, desertification risks and the distribution of human and livestock populations. This is clearly an area in which donors can provide support and expertise and governments need to act. It is important to develop national capacity to gather and analyze information in-country: properly designed and operated .Geo graphical Information Systems can be extremely helpful in this regard. GISs make use of aerial photography, remote sensing, and actual ground inspections and data collection GISs will be particularly useful not only to monitor the progress of natural resource degradation and destruction, but—more importantly—to assess land capability for venous uses and, thus, to provide the basis for sound land use planning.

NEAPs are intended to be evolutionary—developing policies through field experience as well as national-level analysis. They should lead to the empowerment of the nongovernmental sector, not just by providing funds for small scale community activities through national environmental funds' but also by drawing large numbers of village and district representatives into consultative forums A nongovernmental advisory body was part of the institutional arrangements set up, for example, under the Lesotho NEAP.

Considerable external support has been provided for the NEAP process, from bilateral and multilateral agencies and NGOs (such as the World Wildlife Fund, the World Resources Institute, and the International Institute for Environment and Development External expertise is made available to the countries undertaking NEAP preparation, and aid agency polices are coordinated in the process, with the NEAP forming the basis for coordination. Where NEAPs have led to the preparation of national environmental investment plans (as in Madagascar and Mauritius), donors have substantially oversubscribed the programs. A National Environmental Action Plan can therefore become the major preparatory instrument for addressing the issues discussed in this chapter.


1. An effort has been under way since 1986 to establish the information base for sound water resource planning in Sub-Saharan Africa A number of multilateral and bila teral agencies and donors (including the ADB, UNDP, UNDTCD, WMO, the World Bank, the EEC and France) are collaborating in a multiyear program,

Sub-Saharan Africa Hydrological Assessment, to assist all SSA countries in creating or improving a sound hydrometric base for the purpose of planning and evaluating water resource development programs and projects. This effort covers surface water resources, hydrometeorology, and groundwater. Initial reports for a number of countries are available from the World Bank's Agriculture and Rural Development Department.

2. Climate change is likely to have significant impact on water supplies and regional hydrological systems, particularly in regions already facing water shortages. This makes prudent planning so much more important. Even relatively small changes in precipitation and temperature can have significant effects on the volume and tuning of runoff, especially in and semiarid regions (Frederick 1993 63)