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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


Past efforts have, on the whole, failed to reverse the direction of the downward spiral that is driven by the synergetic forces of this nexus. Part of the explanation appears to be that these efforts have been pursued too narrowly along traditional sectoral lines—matching established institutional arrangements and traditional academic disciplines—while crucial cross-sectoral linkages and synergies have been ignored. At the same time, primary emphasis in most sectoral development efforts has generally been placed on the supply side, i.e., on efforts to develop and deliver technology and services. Far more emphasis needs to be given to promoting effective demand for environmentally benign technologies that intensify farming, for family planning services, and for resource conservation. The synergies inherent in the nexus provide considerable potential in this regard. Addressing these issues requires appropriate crosssectoral analysis and the development of action programs that cover the linkages and synergies among sectors. These programs should focus on price incentives, trade and fiscal policies, public investments, and asset ownership (such as land) as tools to promote sustainable resource management. To facilitate efficient implementation, action should, however, be defined within single sectors.

In analytical work that should precede the formulation of action plans and developmental interventions, far greater attention needs to be paid to the social organization of production and consumption, of decisionmaking and resource allocation, and of access to resources and services. These systems and structures can be very complex and often differ substantially among communities. This implies the need to use relevant "units of analysis." Terms such as "household," the "family," and the "family farm" may not be appropriate if they are simply taken to convey concepts of social and economic arrangements familiar to twentieth-century industrial economies. Many societies are characterized by complex resource allocation and pooling arrangements for both production and consumption purposes, based on lineage, kinship, gender, and age groups. It is imperative to be cognizant of these arrangements, to analyze the impact of development interventions on individuals in this context, and to design development efforts such that traditional groups can implement and manage them. Gender issues are particularly critical, especially in terms of gender specific divisions of responsibilities, tasks, and budgets, as well as in terms of access to resources, information, and markets. Interventions and incentives do not necessarily work in the same direction or with the same intensity for men and women.

Work in Progress and Follow-Up

To help answer some of the questions that remain and to adapt the analysis to the situation of specific countries, a follow-up to this study was begun in 1993. It included the preparation of "nexus" studies in Cd'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, and the Sahelian countries as a group. These studies confirm the findings of the general study but provide evidence of variation in the way in which the various factors interact. In addition, concurrent monitoring is underway regarding the progress of preparation and implementation of national environmental action plans and of national population programs. The mechanism for the former is the "Club of Dublin," consisting of representatives of African governments and donor agencies. The institutional mechanism for deepening population agenda for Sub-Saharan Africa and for monitoring its progress is the African Population Advisory Committee, with similar membership. It is intended that a similar African Agricultural Advisory Committee, managed by prominent Africans, will also be established. Finally, the donors have agreed to focus on nexus issues as Fart of the donor coordination effort entitled the "Special Program for Africa."