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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 folder1. Introduction
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe three basic concerns
View the documentKey elements of the ''Nexus''
View the documentPopulation growth revisited: Feedback from the Nexus
View the documentElements of an action plan
View the documentConclusions

Elements of an action plan

The appropriate policy response and action program to address these problems are not easily brought into focus. Many of the most immediately attractive remedies have been tried and have failed. For example, individual land titling—intended to clarify resource ownership, prevent further degradation of common property regimes into de facto open-access situations, and improve tenurial security—has been tried in several countries and has been beset by significant problems. Similarly, effort; to introduce "modern" agricultural technology in the form of higher-yielding varieties, chemical fertilizer, and farm mechanization have not met with great response from farmers. Soil conservation and forest protection efforts have had little success outside relatively small areas. And efforts to slow population growth through programs based primarily on the supply of family planning services and the distribution of contraceptives have not been successful in most SSA countries.

Enough is known already to incorporate the recommendations made here in projects and policy The main actions that can be defined are as follows:

· Promote demand for smaller families and family planning based on cultural and agricultural/economic incentives, rather than simply on the supply of family planning services.

· Create farmer demand for "sustainable" agricultural technology, partly through appropriate research and extension, partly by the elimination of open-access land tenure conditions, partly by the policy-created artificial scarcity of farmland, and necessarily through agricultural policy reform of the kind identified in SubSaharan Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Growth (World Bank 1989d), which will make farming less risky and more profitable.

· Pursue measures necessary to create a market for fuelwood. This will require mainly land tenure reform, extension advice on agroforestry, and fuelwood plantations.

· Ensure that agricultural services and education serve women, in order to stimulate reduced demand for children, improve women's farming practices, and reduce the work burden in water and fuelwood gathering. This will save women's time for family management and food production and nonagricultural income generating activities.

· Reduce forest and wildland degradation by land tenure reform, agricultural intensification, infrastructure policy, migration policy, and population policy.

· Create environmental action plans to focus on agricultural and population causes of environmental degradation.

· Formulate urban policies that have links to population, agriculture, and the environment (as safety valves for population increase and market generators for agriculture and fuelwood products).

· Make greater use of spatial plans incorporating, above elements for specific localities.

· Encourage community and individual management of implementation. This is crucial and can be induced by affirming community and individual ownership of land and water resources and stimulated by fiscal and pricing incentives, allocation of public funds for community initiatives, adjustment of external assistance in support of local action, reorientation of public support services to back local initiatives, and training of community leaders.

Several SSA countries have begun to implement various elements of this action plan. Over twenty national environmental action plans are under preparation. Macroeconomic and agricultural policy reforms are underway in over half the African countries, although with mixed success. A few countries have successful family planning programs, and others are developing promising programs. Agricultural research and extension systems are beginning to place more weight on "sustainable'' technology and responsiveness to varying farmer demand. A very few countries have brought much of this together and obtained positive synergies between agricultural growth, environmental protection, and reduction in fertility rates. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, and Mauritius are examples. Others, such as Ghana and Zimbabwe, are moving in the right direction. Major deficiencies remain in rural health care and education (particularly female education), rural infrastructure, participation of local communities in development efforts, forest and conservation policy, land tenure reform, urbanization policy, and family planning programs.