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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 folder6. A framework for action
View the documentA continental perspective
View the documentSome country-specific targets and implications

Some country-specific targets and implications

Aggregate targets for Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole obviously are of limited operational relevance for individual countries. But they provide a useful and compelling framework within which appropriate objectives and targets will need to be set at the country level. Policy and public investment decisions are made at the country level. Table 6-2 summarized the present situation and sets out some internally consistent targets for each SSA country with respect to population growth, agricultural growth, calorie supply, food insecurity, deforestation, percentage of land under cultivation, and percentage of land remaining as wilderness areas. There are some tradeoffs between growth of agriculture and environmental protection—but these are far outweighed by substantial and positive complementarity. Nevertheless, the tradeoffs require that choices be made—and these can be made only by the people in the countries themselves The targets in the table are therefore also indicative of the tradeoffs.

Table 6-2 Indicative Country Targets for Population Growth, Agricultural Growth, Food Security, and the Rural Environment

Table 6-2 Indicative Country Targets for Population Growth, Agricultural Growth, Food Security, and the Rural Environment (continued)

Methodology Used to Develop the Targets Shown in Table 6-2

(i) The target population growth rates were established as shown in Table A4. They reflect the projected effect in each country of achieving a reduction in the total fertility rate by almost 50 percent by 2030.

(ii) The agricultural growth targets reflect what is necessary in the long term for each country to achieve an average annual economic growth rate of 4 percent.

(iii) The target for average daily calorie consumption was initially set for all countries to equal the present average in all the world's low-income countries; this target was then adjusted upwards for those countries that already have comparatively high average levels of per capita calorie consumption and downwards for those with currently very low levels.

(iv) While the objective should be to reduce to zero the percentage of each country's population that remains in conditions of food insecurity, the "targets" presented here are based on a qualitative assessment of the feasibility of reducing food insecurity in each country, given the extent of the problem at present and the target agricultural growth rate.

(v) The targets for reducing the rate of deforestation are based on estimates of the forest area required to satisfy, with improved management, projected wood needs of populations growing on average at 2.8 percent per year; they also take into account essential environmental objectives as well as some expansion of cropland. These targets were set by subregion rather than by country. The results, in millions of hectares of forest, are as follows:






Humid West Africa



Central Africa



East Africa



Southern Africa






(vi) The target percentage of land under crops was determined on the basis of available wilderness, forests, and other currently uncultivated land potentially available for future cultivation, given the constraint imposed by the need to reduce deforestation to the postulated target rates For SSA as a whole, the target deforestation rate of 035 percent per year represents a reduction of the forested area by about 2.3 million ha per year With only about 30 percent of the land taken out of forests cultivated each year, this implies an increase of about 650,000 ha annually in the area cultivated. By 2020, this would result in about 8.3 percent of SSA's land area being under crops. Since the rate of deforestation varies by subregion, a similar estimation was undertaken for each country to develop the specific targets shown.

(vii) The targets for the minimum of wilderness area to tee retained were derived by deducting from the present wilderness area the postulated maximum increase in cultivated [and (1.3 percent expansion by 2020) and the anticipated loss attributable to urban, industrial and infrastructure development at its present rate of 5 8 percent every 22 years (Table A-17). A similar calculation was undertaken for each country.

There will be wide differences in the degree of difficulty various countries will experience in meeting the objectives. Some countries are already on course to meet some of the critical targets, but will need to do better in other respects. Others are faced with the necessity of drastic action in all areas concerned to attain a development path that would suggest any likelihood of success in reaching the targets postulated here. Still others are likely to face virtually insurmountable obstacles in certain respects, and solutions that go beyond national boundaries will need to be seriously considered.

Mauritius, for example, has already achieved the targets for population growth, calorie intake, and the percentage of its population facing food insecurity. It also has achieved modest agricultural growth, averaging about 2.6 percent a year during the 1980s. At present, the rate of deforestation is high (33 percent per year), and the objective should be to reduce it to about 03 percent per year. Cropland cannot be expanded on this island nation, underscoring the need for substantial effort at further agricultural intensification and/or economic diversification to meet rising needs for food and other agricultural products through international trade.

Ethiopia is at the other extreme. Adverse climatic conditions and prolonged civil strife have had a severe impact. Agricultural production has stagnated during the past decade, average daily food intake is a meager 1,684 calories per person, 46 percent of the population are food insecure, and forests are disappearing at a rate of 03 percent annually At 2.9 percent per year, population growth is somewhat below the SSA average—not so much because of declining fertility, but because of the high child mortality and overall death rates. The targets set out here for Ethiopia are more modest than those for most other countries, simply because of its critical situation The area under cultivation will need to increase from 13 percent to 26 percent of the total land area by 2020 to meet the target of 4.0 percent annual growth in agriculture. Deforestation cannot be halted with this expansion of cropped land, but is in fact likely to accelerate given the difficulty of intensifying agriculture in a dry environment

Uganda yet another picture. Its agricultural performance has been poor, owing largely to civil strife, but with some impressive improvements in recent years. Agricultural growth averaged 2.5 percent annually during the 1980s. Population growth has been rapid (3.2 percent a year) Most of the arable land is already under cultivation (3.4 percent), and there is little wilderness area left (4.0 percent of total land). The rate of deforestation has averaged about 0.8 percent annually in recent years. Uganda has enormous agricultural potential its agricuItural sector could grow at a sustained rate of 45 percent annually If population growth can be reduced to 2.7 percent a year by 2020, average daily calorie intake per person could rise from 2,034 to 2,400, and the number of people facing food insecurity could be brought down dramatically This would have to occur mostly through intensification on currently cropped land, because there is little additional land left to cultivate. AIDS already is a more serious problem in Uganda than in many other African countries; this suggests that efforts to improve the reach and effectiveness of health care and family planning services are critical.

A number of countries are facing scenarios of extreme difficulties and constraints: Rwanda, Burundi, the Sahelian countries, Kenya, and Malawi. The case of Rwanda was particularly dramatic even before the recent social breakdown and civil war Agricultural performance has been poor, with production declining at an average rate of 15 percent per year in the 1980s. Population growth averaged 3.3 percent per year during the 1980s. Per capita daily calorie consumption is only 1,817, and 24 percent of the people are food insecure. There is little wilderness left, although nearly 15 percent of the country has been set aside as protected areas The rate of deforestation has been 2.3 percent per year, and 45 percent of the entire land area is cropped The modest agricultural growth target of 3.0 percent per year can only be achieved through agricultural intensification. The very high population density may be creating demand for smaller family size, family planning interventions should seek to capitalize on this once stability is restored in the country. Reforestation must be intensified, ore land unsuitable for crops The difficulties are immense. Indeed, the targets spelled out here imply that 10 percent of the population will still be food insecure in the year 2020 Out-migration to other countries will clearly be inevitable.

Nigeria's example is important, if only because of the country's size. It's agricultural performance during the 1980s and early 1990s has teem marked by widely fluctuating production, with a trend growth rate of 33 percent per year, somewhat ahead of the population growth rate. The county has such potential for growth that, with appropriate policy reforms in key areas, it can achieve 4.0 percent agricultural growth per year in the medium term As much as four-fifths of this growth can be realized without expanding the area under cultivation, because of the availability of proven yield-increasing technology for a number of key crops and the scope for double cropping through small-scale irrigation in many river valleys. The remainder will come from modest expansion of the area cropped. Realignment of public expenditure toward smallscale irrigation, provision and maintenance of rural roads, improvement in agricultural support services, elimination of the ferdlizer subsidy, and liberalization of fertilizer imports and marketing are key areas requiring policy reform. Without such reforms, future agricultural growth would come primarily from area expansion which would not be sustainable The country's family planning effort, still very weak, will have to improve considerably for the target population growth rate of 2.1 percent per year to be reached by 2020. As population pressure on cultivated land is rising, demand for family planning services appears to be increasing in parts of the country, and FP programs will need to foster such demand growth and meet this rising and largely unmet demand. Substantial policy reforms will be needed to stop the rapid destruction of existing forest resources and to induce sufficient private investment m agroforestry, fuelwood, and industrial plantations if the target of reducing deforestation to an annual rate of 03 percent is to be met