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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 folder11.Conclusion
View the documentThe problem
View the documentRecommendations for action
View the documentStatus of implementation
View the documentIssues and follow-up

Recommendations for action

To correct the current disastrous trends, a set of mutually reinforcing actions need to be undertaken by governments and external aid agendas. One of the most important will be to promote demand for smaller families and for family planning (FP) services. This needs to be effected through determined action in several areas—notably expanding primary and secondary education for females, reducing infant mortality, and providing culturally sensitive FP advice and services .Field surveys to identify the determinants of fertility and attitudes to family planning will be essential. Population programs are being prepared in about half of the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. Political commitment will be necessary to implement them. In establishing FP programs that emphasis increased supply, priority should be given to countries where demand for fewer children is emerging—as a consequence of increasing population density on cultivated land, improving female education, declining infant mortality rates, Improved food security, and better conservation of environmental resources. Where these factors are not present, demand for children will remain strong and will blunt the effectiveness of programs oriented towards increasing the supply and accessibility of FP services

Where AIDS is a serious concern, even the absence of the elements that appear to spur the onset of the demographic transition, high priority must be placed on providing appropriate information and education regarding the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases as well as on supplying condoms though all available channels, such as schools, health facilities, traditional health providers, FP programs, pharmacies, and NGOs.

Strong efforts are also needed to create farmer demand for environmentally sustainable agricultural technology Means to accomplish this include expansion of appropriate research and extension to farmers, the elimination of open access to land resources, and agricultural policy that makes agricultural intensification profitable (and reduces the relative profitability of shifting cultivation). The priority development of rural roads and markets in areas designated for agricultural development will be important in this regard. Agricultural research systems must be developed to supply the appropriate technology The elaboration of Frameworks for Action under the auspices of the Special Program for African Agricultural Research (SPAAR) merits strong support, as do related efforts to improve others agricultural support services such as extension. The problem is not so much funding, but organization and management.

Agricultural services and education must serve women as much as men—to improve women's farming practices, raise their productivity and incomes, and stimulate reduced demand for children Successful introduction of agroforestry and fuelwood production on farms would significantly reduce women's work burden in fuelwood gathering Introduction of appropriate transport improvements and stoves that save both filer and time would also help. Improving rural water supply will save women's time .It will also reduce infant mortality, thus reducing the demand for more children. Success in these areas will free more of women's time for family management, agricultural production, and other economic activities.

Measure necessary to create a market for fuelwood should be pursued .Fuelwood prices should reflect the scarcity value and replanting costs of trees Higher prices would stimulate farmers and entrepreneurs to plant trees .This will require land tenure reform to eliminate open access to free fuelwood by farmers and entrepreneurs. It wilI also require extension advice to farmers on agroforestry and fuelwood plantations. Eliminating price and taxation disincentives to the marketing of kerosene and other replacement fuels would stimulate the substitution of such fuels for woodfuels over time, particularly in urban areas.

The rate of degradation and destruction or forests and wildlands can be reduced by determined pursuit of agricultural intensification. This needs to be promoted through the measures indicated above, the elination of openaccess land tenure situations, keeping infrastructure out of environmentally sensitive areas, and more effective regulation and taxation of logging.

In each country, Environmental Action Plans should be prepared, and they should focus heavily on agricultural and demographic causes of environmental degradation in rural areas. A key instrument to be used in preparing solutions will be land use plans. These define the use, given various demands, to which various types of land are to be put (forest, protected areas, agriculture, settlements, infrastructure, and so forth). A meaningful National Environmental Action Plan should be based on careful analyses of the issues discussed here and should incorporate an action plan for governments, affected communities, and external aid agencies to address these issues and the linkages and synergies among them. In most cases, the action plan will consist of: changes to agricultural research, extension, and investment policy; increased focus on creating demand for family planning services and increased resources for population policy; greater emphasis on fuelwood and industrial forestry plantations and private tree farming,- greater sensitivity to the environmental impact of all investments; more investment in natural resource conservation and protection; and land tenure reform The needs of women must be addressed far more effectively, notably in the areas of agricultural development, natural resource management, and education.

Infrastructure development in rural areas, particularly roads and water supply, is important for agricultural development and for focusing population settlement outside of environmentally sensitive areas Keeping infrastructure out of environmentally fragile areas is an important tool for safeguarding their integrity. Developing infrastructure in rural areas and in secondary towns merits considerably higher priority than it has received in most countries in the past Infrastructure development should be in response to demand. This is likely to result in smaller-scale investment—rather than in major engineering efforts, which have characterized much government and aid agency spending to date Responsiveness to demand will be stimulated by more community and local control over design and siting, by the use of local contractors and by funding of facilities built and maintained by the user communities themselves.

Urban areas represent outlets for population increases, markets for agricultural products and fuelwood, sources of manufactured inputs and consumer goods for farmers, and centers for the provision of education health' and other services. Urban development needs to be one component of land use plans. Further, urban policy should be developed in part as a function of likely growth of the urban population, linkages between urban and rural product and labor markets, communications needs in rural areas, and environmental constraints. Generally, policies that promote development of secondary cities and rural towns, rather than of a few megacities, will be far more conducive to efficient, equitable and sustainable rural development. This requires spatially welldistributed public investment that is not biased in favor of a few major cities —i.e. sound and substantial investment in infrastructure throughout each country (rather than concentration in megacities). It further requires functioning markets and market-based pricing for petroleum and other energy sources, avoidance of transport monopolies to increase the likelihood that the entire country is adequately served by private transport providers, promotion (through industrial extension, investment codes, credit facilities) of small and medium enterprises located in secondary cities and rural towns, and decentralization of political decisionmaking outside capital areas to facilitate greater responsiveness to demand. These are not only crucial elements of sound urbanization policy, but are important for rural development because well-functioning secondary towns and cities are more likely to provide services and markets for rural areas than are distant megacities, which tend to be heavily oriented to overseas suppliers.

Local communities need to be empowered to participate in all of the above. Without participation, people will not demand smaller families, sustainable agricultural technologies, road maintenance, or forest conservabor. Participation is more likely to result in development initiatives that respond to felt needs rather than to short-term political imperatives and expediencies. People should become managers of actions conceived in partnership with governments.

Multisectoral and cross-sectoral analysis is needed to resolve agricultural population, settlement, and environmental problems—because of the important linkages and synergies between them. Environmental protection will be very difficult to achieve if present rates of population growth continue. Population growth is unlikely to decelerate unless agriculture, and the economies dependent on agriculture, grow more rapidly. Agriculture will be increasingly constrained by rapid population growth .Settlement and urban development policies are important factors influencing population growth and movement, agriculture, and environmental resource use. In this regard, the analysis suggests that spatial planning is desirable and that action plans covering the various sectors should be integrated at the regional level.

In particular, land use plans should be developed with a spatial and regional focus. These should identify conservation areas, logging areas, farming areas, and locations for settlement and infrastructure development. Appropriate farming technologies vary from one microagroclimatic zone to the next. Infrastructure development location-specific. Land tenure systems, fuelwood problems, gender responsibilities in farming, and cultural facto-:x affecting attitudes towards human fertility vary among regions, and often from place to place, within the same country. There is therefore merit to developing integrated action plans for regions within countries. Such plans would address the wide range of issues and concerns applicable within that region—including appropriate land uses; demographic trends; likely migration patterns; natural resource management; the development of transport and other infrastructure; agricultural technology; land tenure reform and land ownership; fuelwood demand and supply; forestry development and utilization; and likely development of markets, towns, and cities.

Far greater community involvement in the preparation and the execution of these location-specific plans will be essential. Communities and individuals must be given ownership of natural resources as an incentive for them to manage and conserve these resources. Better planning, particularly spatial planning community and individual ownership of assets, and community management of implementation are the main directions in which donors and governments must move.

Because such multisectoral action plans will be complex and difficult to implement, they should in most cases not be implemented through integrated multicomponent projects. Conservation and land use plans specified by location would be one cluster of projects. Appropriate agricultural technology for each microregion could be developed and extended through national research and extension programs, with regional implementing divisions. Regionally specific land tenure reform could be implemented under national tenure reform programs. Family planning programs adapted to particular communities would be implemented through national population and family planning programs. Urban and infrastructure development will constitute separate projects. But there needs to be a sensible fit between these separate projects and investments, given the synergies and complementarities between them.

Several other important recommendations emerge from this study concerning analytical work that should precede the formulation of action plants and, particularly, of developmental interventions—be they investment projects or institutional and policy reforms:

· Far greater attention needs to be paid to the social organization of production and consumption, of decisiomaking and resource allocation, of access to resources and services. These systems and structures can be very complex and often differ substantially among communities (and certainly among countries) throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

· This implies the need to use relevant units of analysis. The casual and often indiscriminate use, for example, of the "household," the "family," and the "family farm" may not be appropriate if these terms are simply assumed to convey concepts of social and economic arrangements familiar to 20th-century industrialized economies Most African societies are characterized by complex systems of resource-allocation and

· Fooling arrangements for both production and consumption purposes, based on lineage, kinship, gender, and age-groups—often with multiple overlaps. It is imperative to be cognizant of, and sensitive to, these arrangements and to analyze the impact of development interventions on individuals in this context.

Gender issues are 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.

More input is needed from sociologists and anthropologists to understand socioeconornic systems and relationships. Social scientists should collaborate closely with agricultural scientists and economists in researching farming systems, cultures, and socioeconomic institutions into which new varieties and technologies are to be introduced. Agriculturists and economists in turn should receive special training to raise their awareness of these issues. Local expertise needs to be much more drawn upon to improve our understanding of how things operate, why they operate this way, and what may work under these conditions.

· It is extremely important to take into account the risk perception of the local people—their absolute requirement for ensuring survival in the short term even under worst case scenarios.