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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

Production versus protection

The environmental issues that are linked to population and agriculture are primarily those involved with soil, water, and vegetation. There are, of course, many other environmental problems facing Sub-Saharan Africa—such as over-fishing in coastal waters, oil spills, dumping of hazardous wastes, pollution from urban sewage and industrial waste, land devastation from surface mining, and so forth. These problems are not, however, so closely related to rapid population growth and laggard agricultural growth and therefore are not dealt with here.

Governments must be more determined in developing and implementing environmental policies aimed at (a) maintaining and restoring, in the face of increasing consumption demands, the soil, water, pasture, and forest resources on which agriculture will continue to be based, and (b) preserving ecosystems and plant and animal species— as repositories of genetic diversity that may underlie future production of many types of products, and as a national and global heritage. Solving the population and agricultural aspects of the problem are crucial to curtailing degradation of the natural environment. Agricultural intensification, farm forestry and fuel wood programs, and sensible land tenure reform are critical factors, as discussed in Chapter 8. However, moving from the present situation of rapid deforestation, wetland conversion, and land degradation to one of stabilizing the area under trees, raising the efficiency of fuelwood use, preserving much of the remaining wilderness areas, and reversing the degradation of soils will require an "affirmative action program" of considerable consequence Such a program will need to comprise a number of elements beyond those discussed in Chapter 5.

An essential first step is to determine which areas should and can be maintained as protected areas, and which should be allowed to be developed for production (cropping, forestry, livestock, fisheries). Criteria for selecting natural ecosystems for preservation and protection include:

· Biological importance, notably richness (diversity, numbers) and uniqueness of species and complexity of the ecosystem: the greater the importance, the more important the need for full protection.

· Provision of "environmental services," such as prevention of soil erosion or of destructive flooding, recharge of aquifers, maintenance of river flow, provision of breeding grounds for marine life: the greater the value of such services, the greater will be the importance of protection. Importance for the survival of indigenous peoples and their livelihood systems, especially of forest dwellers: where indigenous peoples depend for physical and/or cultural survival on an area remaining undisturbed, the need for protection becomes imperative.

· Productive potential if converted to other uses such as cropping or livestock production: the greater the productive potential under alternative uses, the less viable the decision to protect fully.

· Current status, i.e., whether or not the ecosystem is already degraded or spatially constricted to an extent where it is no longer stable and wildlife populations are no longer sustainable: the less viable a particular ecosystem, the less viable a decision to protect it fully.

· Likelihood of success of preservation—which depends on the type and degree of present threats (such as human population pressure) that reduce the likelihood of success versus the potential for supporting nonexploitative economic activities (such as ecotourism), which increase the likelihood of success.

These criteria imply tradeoffs. In many cases they will involve the need to make difficult choices. If one basic objective is to limit the decline in SubSaharan Africa's total wilderness areas (from their present extent of 27 percent of the total land area to not less than 23 percent, as postulated in Chapter 6), these criteria will need to be applied with considerable stringency. Since natural resource systems, including forests, have multiple uses, there can be no substitute for some form of planning. Land use plans should identify conservation areas, parks, areas designated for sustainable logging, farming areas, pasture and rangeland, as well as areas needed and suitable for human settlements and physical infrastructure. Agricultural technology is location-specific in its applications, and land use plans therefore should identify, in broad terms, the appropriate technologies. Land tenure issues and fuelwood problems also are location-specific—as are many of the cultural factors that help determine human fertility. Regional plans should define these, with considerably more weight attached to resource conservation than in the past.

The widespread skepticism concerning the utility of such plans is based on the fact that most past attempts at land use planning and regional planning have not worked well in Sub-Saharan Africa. The reasons included often excessive complexity of such plans, lack of governmental capacity to prepare and implement realistic plans, and free quent lack of incentives to cooperate for the people living in the areas concerned In most cases, and especially those concerning forest areas, very little, if any, attention was paid to land tenure issues, identification of appropriate agricultural technology in forest areas, participation of local people and of the private sector, and provision of adequate incentives to cooperate for loggers, farmers, hunter-gatherers, livestock owners, and forest dwellers. Instead, nearly universally applied were "engineering solutions," implemented by public sector agencies or donorsupported project management units which sought to manage forest areas independently of people and of companies operating in the forests.

A different approach is necessary—both for planning and for management. It must greatly increase the role of local people and the private sector in planning and implementation; it must be evolutionary and adaptive, rather than rigid; and it must be simple to execute. If the role of governments is confined primarily to providing the legislative backing and to planning and supervision, land use planning becomes more manageable. And if assistance for carrying out these more limited functions is provided through the collaborative mechanisms established for preparing National Environmental Action Plans (NEAPs) and Tropical Forestry Action Plans (TFAPs), adopting this approach is a realistic strategy

It is increasingly recognized that maintanance of protected areas requires the direct involvement of the local and surrounding populations. It is unrealistic to expect local people to conserve forest and wildlife resources unless such conservation provides them with clear benefits. The exclusionary approach so often taken in protected areas in the pest is neither workable nor sustainable nor equitable. Governments cannot financially afford and effectively provide the degree of enforcement needed And the local people, frequently among the poorest, are left to bear the costs of restricted or prohibited access to resources, exposure to marauding wildlife, and other disadvantages associated with living on the edge of a closed off territory.

The local people therefore must be active participants in both planning and implementation of land and resource use. This requires: (a) appropriate incentives and (b) collaborative planning and implementation of resource management plans. Incentives are far more likely than governmental regulation, control, and enforcement to be effective tools for inducing people to conserve essential stocks of natural resources. The most important incentive to ensure resource conservation is clearly defined and uncontested resource ownership: it entails the certainty that the yield or benefits derived from resources conserved will continue to accrue to the current owners/users and their descendants, but also that resource degradation will be a cost directly borne by them. This is best accomplished by ensuring people's ownership of the land and of the natural resources on that land—or, where government ownership is to continue, by providing legally binding and protected long-term use rights. Under the right economic conditions, this provides strong and direct incentives to conserve and to invest in resource conservation or productivity enhancement. Conversely, loss of ownership or exclusive user rights, or ambiguities concerning these, create incentives to exploit without regard to sustainability.

Appropriate resource management plans should be prepared in a collaborative manner—involving the concerned communities, technically competent government agency staff, and, where they exist and enjoy the local people's confidence, grassroots organizations and NGOs. Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) techniques provide very effective tools to do this These techniques have been developed and refined in the 1980s, evolving from Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) techniques and agroecosystem analyses, to ensure intensive involvement by the local populations in all aspects of local land use planning—such as resource inventory, problem diagnosis, resource use planning, action plan formulation, etc. (see, for instance, Chambers 1991).


About 30 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa's land area is classified as forests or woodlands But only about 28 percent of this area is closed forest— compared with about two-thirds in Latin America and in Asia. About 34 percent is shrubland and 38 percent is savanna woodland; both are multiples resource systems, utilized for meeting local requirements for fuelwood and other tree and forest products as well as for farming and forage.

As discussed in Chapter 2, Sub-Saharan Africa's forest area is diminishing at a rate of about 2.9 million ha per year, and the rate of decline is accelerating. The most important causes of deforestation are conversion to farmland, infrastructure development in environmentally delicate

Box 10-1 Integrated Conservation and Development

Reflecting the recognition that effective resource conservation and management must involve strong local participation' the concept of "integrated conservation and development" is being developed. It involves the following key aspects

· Local people retain the rights to continued traditional utilization of resources inside state owned protected areas (to the extent that this is not detrimental to the ecosystem) and are, of course, allowed to continue such activities on all land returned outright to term.

· The local communities are allowed to generate income from protected areas through environmentally compatible activities such as tourism, hunting with traditional weapons, and gathering of nontimber forest products. All of these activities are directly dependent on the protected area. Local communities given exclusive rights to carry out these activities will have an incentive to conserve the forest or wilderness area.

· Commercial logging of protected areas is entirely excluded. Logging can be allowed and carefully managed only in those areas specifically identified for logging, but even then only with techniques and management practices that ensure long term sustainability.

Buffer zones, are established around core protected areas, and ownership of the land and associated resources in them is returned to the local people. Buffer zones are meant to provide the local people with sufficient forest and agricultural products to prevent overexploitation of the protected areas. They also serve to keep potentially destructive wildlife away from villages, crops, and domestic livestock.

· Agriculture and social development activities can be provided outside protected areas to attract local people away from these areas and as an incentive to avoid encroachment.

Experience with implementing this concept is still limited in Sub-Sahara Africa. A number of pilot efforts have been initiated, but are at very early stages. A potential danger to watch for is the risk of the "magnet syndrome": priority provision of infrastructure and social services around areas to be protected may in fact attract people to the area if social and infrastructure development farther away is significantly lagging behind that around the area to be protected areas, timber extraction, and commercial fuelwood harvesting. Growing and migrating human populations as well as international demand for tropical timber drive these processes. Timber exports from Sub-Saharan Africa amount to about US$700 million per year at present. Cropland is expanding at a rate of 1 million ha annually—to a large extent at the expense of forest areas and woodlands. A number of agricultural development projects supported by external aid donors, including the World Bank, have facilitated the conversion of forest and rangeIands into cropland.

The most important areas for action to stop the degradation of Sub-Sahara Africa's forest resources lie outside the immediate purview of forestry sector policy. They are: (a) reducing population growth, and (b) intensifying agricultural production at a rate which exceeds population growth, in order to encourage sedentary agriculture and livestock raising and to discourage further invasion of the remaining forests. Rapidly growing numbers of people, barely surviving in land-extensive agricultural systems, have no option than to continue to invade and destroy forests. This points again to the complex mutual dependency of agricultural and nonagricultural activities.

For the forests that remain, improved management for multiple uses will be vital. These uses range from the provision of critical environmental services to the supply of timber and nontimber products, and from tourism and recreational uses ~ mineral extraction. It is unrealistic to expect that all forests can be conserved in their present state. For almost all of Africa's forests the issue is not whether to use them or not to use them—but how to use them .If people (and governments) feel that there is little benefit from forests, they will continue to be mined for urgently needed export revenue or converted into agricultural Land.

To address these problems effectively, there is no alternative to planning, orchestrated by governments This can be done within Tropical Forestry Actions Plans (TFAPs), National Environmental Action Plans (NEAPs), or simply forestry master plans. Each will involve some form of land use and natural resource planning. Land use plans for forest areas should identity conservation areas, parks, areas designated for sustainable logging,, mining areas, farming and grazing areas, and areas designated for infrastructure development.

Farmers have encroached into most forest areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, including into many government-managed "forest reserves " Removing and resettling these people would, in most cases, entail social and economic costs of a magnitude that render this option generally prohibitive. Even if farmers were to be expelled from areas they have invaded for farming, this would not restore the affected areas to their previous forested state. Consequently, areas that have already been largely converted to farmland should be formally relinquished for farming, and farmers already established there should be provided with secure use rights. Areas allocated to industrial wood production should be carefully managed in collaboration with logging companies (which should be compelled under their concession agreements to log in a sustainable manner) and with local populations. Areas designated for protection should be managed by government agencies in partnership with the local people. This will require giving these people specific user rights in protected areas and involving them in management decisions.

A key to improving forest management will be the direct involvement of the local people in both planning and execution of forest resource use plans. As already noted/ the most effective manner to achieve this is to ensure their resource ownership or legally protected long-term use rights and to prepare forest resource management plans in a truly collaborative manner. Where local communities own the forest, governments should assist them, through forest and extension services, to manage their forests productively and sustainable. Indeed, since government agencies throughout most of Sub-Saharan Africa are stretched far too thin to manage even those forest resources that are legally under government ownership and control, and since in many cases local people and communities continue to consider these resources to be rightfully theirs, governments should consider divesting many (though not all) forest and range areas to local people. The traditional owner /user communities could obtain group tide to these resources.

Sound forest management plans would allow some logging and artisanal wood harvesting on a sustainable basis (specifying concession fees, taxes, and so on), provide for essential infrastructure development, and identify areas suitable for crop and livestock production. Local people would utilize the forest and woodland resources for fuelwood and artisanal forestry, hunting and harvesting of nonwood forest products, the arable land for cropping, and the range and grazing land for livestock production. Royalties paid by "outside" users would accrue rue to a local communities; governments would share in such royalties rough the tax system.

Where governments retain ownership of forests the management will be more directly under government control But even there, rnanagement plans will need to be responsive to local people's needs and should, therefore, be developed and implemented with their full participation. Local people will only be induced to cooperate if they are given secure and exclusive user rights: hunting, fishing, collection of nontimber forest products, some wood harvesting. They should also be given a significant share in the royalties received from other users, such as logging concessionaires; the certainty of such long-term sources of income will represent a significant benefit and an incentive to adhere to agreed use plans.

Governments will need to provide the essential policy and administrative framework: publishing standard concession agreements, establishing and collecting taxes and stumpage fees, and creating conservation areas, based on both land use plans and national forest policy parameters Implementation would be the responsibility of the local communities, with the requisite technical assistance provided by government agencies, NGOs, or both. As these communities acquire experience and management acumen, the need for such outside assistance will decline and government support should be commensurately withdrawn. As emphasized above, strong and lasting incentives (embodied in resource ownership, user rights' revenue sharing, and the like) would need to be provided to ensure appropriate local interest in such an approach to resource management

Whether any kind of commercial logging is compatible with sustainable management of primary humid forests is highly contentious. Although the evidence available at present may not be sufficient to make a definitive and categorical statement, there is increasing support among experts for entirely prohibiting logging in intact primary humid forests Although considerable interest and optimism are often expressed with respect to sustainable exploitation of natural forests, ITTO has estimated that only one-fifth of one percent of the world's natural tropical forest areas are currently teeing harvested in en ecologically sustainable manner (Goodland 1991:14; Poore and others 1989). Even logging systems based on selective removal of certain species and age classes of trees may seriously disrupt the ecological balance of a tropical moist forest and destroy a significant portion of the remaining vegetation during the process of extraction. Recovery of the ecosystem can only be assured if the damaged area is very small and if it is surrounded by large areas of undamaged forest that can serve as a reservoir of recognizing species Thus, even though the area may remain forested ,any type of commercial logging in a tropical moist forest may result in a fundamental and quite possibly irreversible degradation of the original ecosystem. This is in contrast to the less diverse and more resilient temperate forests, which can tee fogged productively on a sustainable basis.

Logging certainly should be stopped in ecologically delicate and in environmentally important areas in humid and savanna forests. There should be no logging where it is not possible to log on a sustainable basis. In secondary forests (those consisting of regrowth where primary forests have been logged or otherwise significantly disturbed before) and on forest plantations and tree farms, logging must be undertaken in accordance with sustainable management practices. These areas could, in many cases, be designated and managed as permanent sources of timber, pulpwood and woodfuels—provided the private owners (individuals or groups) agree. Logging companies unable to log in a sustainable manner should not be given concessions and permits, even in secondary forests. This will require governmental regulation of logging, even if it is undertaken on private land.

Loggers will have to improve their performance and show themselves to be responsible in their logging activities. To induce this behavior, concession agreements providing for logging company responsibilities as well as rights will be necessary. Payment of taxes—rather than tax evasion—should be the norm. Sustainable management of secondary growth forests and industrial plantations would then become a more important aspect of the business of logging companies than the mining of primary forests. Even where governments choose to continue to allow logging in primary forests, management of secondary growth should be strongly encouraged by levying much lower taxes on trees taken from replanted areas and industrial plantations than on trees harvested from primary forests. If international prices for tropical wood rise as currently projected, the profitability of forest plantations will increase, making such an approach even more feasible.

Where logging is still permitted in primary forests, it should be more heavily taxed—through area-based taxes levied on concessions. Part of the tax should be collected and retained by local communities owning the forests or having user rights in them Concession agreements should be auctioned to the highest bidder These measures would serve to return more of the benefit to the community and, in effect, impose a charge on the companies for the resource (the forest) exploited. Taxes should be high enough to reflect the economic and social value of the forest, including the environmental services it provides, and the cost of rehabilitation if the public sector or the local community undertakes that rehabilitation.

Governments will also need to develop the institutional and human capacity required to manage protected areas and to monitor logging as well as the use of farming, pasture, and fisheries resources made available for local people's use in forest areas. This is important to ensure that protected areas are in fact protected and that the areas made available for exploitation are used in a productive and sustainable manner. An example of management for sustainability is increasing the availability of wood products to keep pace with population growth—ensuing, for example, that replanting exceeds cutting. This could be done by inducing local communities and individual landowners to set aside sufficient land for wood production. The primary instrument to achieve this would be ensuring that price, tax, and other incentives make tree production and marketing profitable (and more profitable than other forms of land use on land most suitable for tree production). This requires planning and management capacity in government to help local populations manage natural resources. In parks and protected areas, governments will need the capacity to manage resources directly and effectively.

On privately and communally held forest land, government forest services can also help local landowners reforest degraded areas, by providing planning assistance, technical advice, training, and seedlings" But planting, maintenance, and harvesting must be done by the resource owners' the people themselves. NGOs can play an important role in assisting them. Forest services need to abandon their present almost exclusive focus on direct management of forests—which is all too often coupled with an adversarial relationship with the people living around the forests—and place far greater emphasis on extension functions targeted at private and community-owned land. And forestry research needs to pay more attention to the issues faced in private and community management of forestry resources.

Natural resource management in farming areas

Since much farming takes place within forest areas, there is not always clear distinction between forest areas and farming areas In large areas throughout Sub Saharan Africa, forests have been almost totally replaced by farms In these areas, the primary role of governments in natural resource management should be effective planning of land and water resource use. Even in areas predominately used for farming, land must still be allocated for various uses such as settlements, service and infrastructure facilities, parks and forests, grazing land and cropland, areas to be protected (watershed headlands' wetlands, water bodies), and so forth. Land use planning will need to take into account the important tradeoffs among these venous uses. Land use and management plans for farming areas should be prepared in a collaborative manner, with the active participation of the local communities. They will need to cover such issues as watershed management, locally appropriate improved farming and livestock husbandry practices, farm tree planting, irrigation and drainage' domestic water supply and use, and the location of physical infrastructure.

Actual resource management and conservation in such areas will be almost entirely in the hands of the local farmers and livestock owners.

Box 10-2 A New Forest Policy in Cote d'Ivoire

In Cote d'Ivoire, about 12 million ha of tropical forest land have been lost during this century. To arrest this destruction, the government has begun to implement a number of the recommendations set out here. Wildlife and biodiversity would be conserved in parks covering 1.9 million ha, of which 600,000 ha are tropical forests. Sustainable wood production would be achieved through better management of production forests (all of which are secondary forests, previously logged), expansion of hardwood plantations, and assistance to farmers induced to resettle outside the forests.

This process began with detailed land use plans for existing "gazetted" forests' which belong to the government These plans designate specific tracts for protection, logging farming, and other uses. Park areas have already been delimited and are to be fully protected. In those areas that have been previously logged over and are to remain production forests, logging companies are receiving long-term concessions in accordance with detailed forest resource management plans and under governmental supervision. Loggers judged unable or unwilling to participate are not permitted to log. Taxes on logs have been increased, and concessions are auctioned to the highest qualified bidders. This is helping to eliminate the least efficient loggers In effect, forests will no longer be treated as a virtually free good, but as a valuable resource, requiring high payment by loggers for exploitation. Intact primary forests are in parks and will not be logged at all.

Farmers are given Incentives to leave those areas that are environmentally delicate or should be managed for logging. The key incentives are ownership titled for land outside these areas and access to agricultural inputs. Agricultural extension staff will provide technical advice to resettled farmers. No support services will be provided to farmers remaining in the forests. There will, however, be no coercion to move; the incentives are expected to be sufficiently persuasive to induce voluntary exit from the park and logging areas. Traditional forest dwellers will be allowed to remain in the forests; so would settlers in areas already so heavily encroached upon that forests have essentially disappeared. Government institutions in the forest sector will be strengthened to focus more on conservation and resource management, rather than on servicing the logging industry.

This new forestry policy fits into abrader national strategy for natural resource conservation, which includes accelerating agricultural intensification and improving land tenure security.

A major issue now is the need for an effective consultative process between farmers, forest dwellers, and the government Such a process has been initiated in the form of local-level forest-farmer commissions for each forest, which will decide on resettlement questions as well as on other disputes between the government, traditional forest dwellers, and farmers who have settled in the forests. A second issue is land ownership. The government would continue to own the land in the gazetted forest areas, but would share the royalties with local populations to induce their support for the new policy.

The example of Machakos District in Kenya demonstrates that this works (see pp. 158-159). It will be essential to ensure tenurial security if there is to be significant private investment in land conservation and productivity enhancement. The agricultural research and extension systems will be the major governmental instruments for supporting farmers and private industry in managing the natural resources in farming areas.

Dryland and range areas

Many dryland and range areas will, like forest areas, require special protection. Actions in the agricultural, livestock, infrastructure, land tenure, and population spheres along the Lines set out in previous chapters will be necessary, but not sufficient. Since agricultural technology adapted to dryland areas is so marginal, land tenure reform so exceedingly difficult to implement, and carrying capacity so low, sustainable management of dryland areas will be very problematic.

Land use planning will be important, since there are tradeoffs and potential conflicts here as well among the traditionally predominating pastoralists, new settlers who are moving into the better areas to farm, fuelwood collectors, and the preservation of biodiversity. Many pastoral areas contain forests and wildlands. Resolving land disputes is an important aspect of the solution to these problems, including that of ensuring adequate fuelwood supplies in drier areas. The management of rangeland by local people, grouped into voluntary and self-governing associations, is the most effective tool for managing these resource systems. But these associations must be provided undisputed ownership of, or assured long term user rights to, the land and the associated water and vegetation if they are to manage them.

Two recent reviews of key issues in Sahelian dryland management highlighted a number of essential concerns that should be observed in attempts to ensure sustainable management and development (Nekby 1990; Shanmugaratnam and others 1992). These include the research and extension of appropriate crop and livestock technologies that are both soil conserving and more profitable for farmers and herdsmen, land tenure reform to eliminate open access, reduction of population growth through outrnigradon, and promotion of rural industries to reduce the pressure on land One of these reviews (Nekby 199O) also suggested a return to holistic and integrated planning and execution—in effect, a return to the concept of integrated regional development based on land use plans that allocate land for pasture, cropping, reserves and parks, fuelwood production, forests, and other uses .Land ownership would be allocated, including to traditional community or clan owners. Agricultural and livestock technology would be developed to suit each particular agroclimatic situation. The technologies would include considerable soil conservation measures. It is, at present, not possible to envisage an alternative approach in dryland areas.

Local initiative and management need to be mobilized to manage range, pasture, and dryland areas—in a manner similar to that outlined above for forest areas. Where traditional, community-based authority still exists, group land {isles or secure long-term user rights should be provided. AS in the case of forests and farmland, it is through the ownership of land and the associated natural resources, or at least the assurance of secure long-term exclusive use rights, that local participation in sustainable resource management can be mobilized and maintained. In better watered grazing areas, individual ownership of livestock farms will be possible {although crop farming may prove to be a more remunerative use of land and labor in many such situations), but this will be rarely feasible on drylands because of the patchy availability of water and the need for seasonal livestock movement. But exclusion of others—i.e., elimination of open-access conditions—is essential.

At the same time, local communities and individuals need to be supported in planning and managing resource use, particularly in view of the increasing limitations imposed on the geographic mobility of pastoralists' herds. The microproject funds which some donors have begun to establish are a suitable instrument to provide critically needed

Box 10-3 Global Cost-Sharing of Tropical Forest Conservation

The benefits of consenting tropical forests will accrue to the entire world, while the costs will have to be borne almost entirely by the countries in which the forests are located. This has stimulated efforts to compensate the producing countries for income foregone as forests are taken out of production and placed under protection. The first such efforts were "debtfor-nature swaps." Although not many swaps have been organized in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is considerable potential for them in many parts of the continent. The principle is that governments set aside as a protected reserve large tracts of forest or wildland, usually managed with the help of an NGO, in return for the purchase of some amount of the country's discounted external debt by that NGO (or organized by it).

Another important recent initiative has been the Global Environment Facility (GEF), under which funds have been made available to countries as compensation for reducing activities that are remunerative but that significantly compromise biodiversity (such as logging), contribute to carbon dioxide emissions (such as forest burning), or produce CFCs. An evaluation of the first phase of the GEF has been published (UNDP, UN, and World Bank 1994). This has helped determine modalities for the second phase. A good candidate for funding under this facility would be the setting aside of intact tropical forests as reserves and parks funding for this purpose. Technical assistance should come through extension agents, knowledgeable about conservation techniques.


As noted in Chapter 2, water is a critical resource in limited supply in large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Conflicts over competing uses are already evident in many cases. In some areas, groundwater reserves are being drawn down for irrigation much faster than they can be replenished. Damming and diversion of rivers for irrigation or hydropower development have often created serious problems downstream. These include the spread of waterborne and water-related diseases, intrusion of saltwater into groundwater aquifers in coastal areas, destruction of riverine woodlands and of wetlands of importance as wildlife habitat, destruction of downstream fisheries and of coastal wetlands critical for marine life and migratory birds, and coastal erosion. Water pollution from domestic sources has become a major concern in many areas, particularly around major cities, but also in countless rural areas where lack of safe potable water is the most serious public health problem In some regions' pollution from agrochemical is emerging as a problem, as it already is in other parts of the world.

With the primary exceptions of parts of coastal West Africa and the Congo/Zaire River basin and adjoining parts of humid Central Africa, most of Sub-Saharan Africa is not endowed with abundant water. Moreover, only a portion of total potentially available water is actually accessible and usable. Geographical distribution of supplies, seasonal and annual variations inflows, topographic conditions, and evaporation losses drive a large wedge between potentially available end realistically accessible water. Conflicting demands on water use and environmental considerations pose further constraints on the utilization of water (Falkenmark and Suprapto 1992:3334). In Europe, water management problems began to be encountered when water demand exceeded 20 percent of potential water availability (Falkenmark 1991:88-89). Water quality is an important consideration as well. Not all sources of water are suitable for all uses, and water impurities and pollution car, severely limit the range of uses to which a particular source of water can be put.

Demand for water is rising rapidly' driven by population growth and economic development Except for the humid regions of Central and coastal West Africa, almost all of Sub-Saharan Africa will be facing water shortages or water scarcity early in the next century. In many of the arid regions, this is already the case—particularly during the dry season. WHO has suggested an average of 30 liters per capita daily (or about 11 m3 per person annually) as the minimum needed to ensure adequate hygiene for urban populations in developing countries. Industrial water requirements depend very much on the size and type of industries; in industrialized countries, these requirements considerably exceed household consumption) even though the latter surpass the WHO standard cited above five to ten times.

Agriculture is, and will continue to be, the largest consumer of water. In dry climates, the photosynthesis process consumes about 1,000 m3 of water to produce one ton of biomass (Falkenmark and Suprapto 1992:31). Depending on agroecological factors (crops grown, soil characteristics, evapotranspiration rates, etc.) and on technical efficiency, feeding people by means of irrigated agriculture requires anywhere from 500 rn3 to 2,500 m3 of water per capita per year.

For many SSA countries, the water that can be utilized at reasonable cost with available technological means will not be more than about 250 m3 per capita annually by the year 2025, and for some (such as Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Malawi) it may be as little as half that amount. This has important implications for the agricultural and overall economic development strategies these countries will need to pursue. It certainly underscores the urgency of initiating effective water resource monitoring and planning and of maximizing efficiency in water use.

The many different uses of water can be variably grouped, depending on the objective of the analysis. One categorization distinguishes between consumptive, nonconsumptive, and polluting uses (Frederiksen 1993.24-25). Another differentiates between withdrawal uses and instream uses. Water used by households and industries and for watering livestock and irrigated crops represents withdrawal uses. Instream uses include water flow for fisheries and wetlands, for maintaining downstream water quality, for water transport, and for recreational uses. Power generation may involve instream uses (for hydropower generation) or withdrawal uses (for cooling thermal and nuclearpower plants). While some instream uses are compatible with others, most demands for different water uses compete with each other and, insituations of increasing water scarcity, imply important tradeoffs and potential conflicts.

This points to the urgent need for effective hydrological planning and for prudent demand management which involves planning, regulation. technology, and pricing. Demand rnanagement means allocating among alternative uses, encouraging conservation, and protecting instream flow and water quality. Market mechanisms alone will not be adequate: ".. the nature of the resource makes it difficult and in many cases impossible to establish efficient markets" (Frederick 1993:23). Well-de fined and transferable property rights are usually missing and very difficult, if at all, to establish. The full benefits and costs of a water transfer are not likely to be borne by the buyer and seller, because there are multiple and important externalities. And rarely will there be multiple and competitive suppliers of water, since the nature of the resource makes water supply a natural monopoly (Frederick 1993:24-25).

Water must be recognized as the critical and limiting resource it is. It must be carefully allocated, beginning with the development of local and regional water use plans, and it must be protected against pollution. Project by-project and sector-by-sector planning for water uses (water and sewage services, irrigation, flood control, hydropower, navigation, fisheries, industrial uses, and so forth) is prone to lead to conflicting and inefficient investment decisions. In the absence of prices for water that reflect its scarcity, planning must be based on natural hydrological units such as river basins to ensure that the opportunity costs associated with different water uses are properly considered. Such planning should be integrated with planning for land use and other activities that affect, and are affected by, water development Water management plans will need to assess water availability against likely demand (taking into account anticipated population growth and urban/industrial development) and develop options for water supply (including costs) as well as options for demand management and conservation.

Given the frequent occurrence of drought, many water sources in semiarid and arid parts of Sub-Saharan Africa are very vulnerable to wide annual variations in flow volume and, hence, in supply. In these regions, water use plans must allow adequate margins for safety and establish clear priorities among competing uses. In many arid and semiarid regions, water supply constraints will imply that large-scale irrigation cannot be the first priority in allocating water among different uses. Where this is not recognized, capital investments designed to abstract surface or groundwater for irrigation and to develop land for irrigated farming may later need to be abandoned as the requirements for human and livestock use increase.

Water resources frequently are shared among countries. This underscores the importance of close cooperation in planning for long-term water sharing if riparian disputes are to be avoided.

The economics of water supply are important Many irrigation and water supply schemes are excessively costly—and uneconomic. Conservation efforts on currently used supplies or demand management through more rational water charges can obviate expensive new investments in water supply, especially for irrigation. Water user associations should be given much greater management responsibility in operation and maintenance of rural potable water supply schemes as well as in irrigation systems.

Common elements

There area number of common elements to the recommended strategies and approaches for conserving and sustainably managing Africa's natural resources, and a number of basic lessons from the, admittedly limited, experience to date:

· The overall policy and legal framework must be consistent with the conservation objective. For example, local communities need to be authorized to participate in the management and benefits of protected areas and the wildlife and other resources they contain. Resistance to this concept remains strong in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, as governments generally believe that benefits reaped from conservation areas should accrue to all citizens. Compromises will have to be made. For example, taxes can be levied on local community receipts from tourism, so that benefits may be shared more widely.

· Social and institutional factors constrain implementation of community-based conservation strategies. The major problems are the general weakness of community organizations and the vastly unequal distribution of authority between the national and local levels. Most local communities in forest, range, and wilderness areas are poorly organized and difficult to organize. Outside assistance is nearly always necessary.

· Only in a few cases can protected areas be expected to generate sufficient revenues from nonexploitative uses (such as ecotourism) to provide significant local income or to support significant rural development. In most cases, external financing will be needed on a long-term basis. The national and international communities must contribute to the cost of maintaining the national and global heritage represented by the areas being protected.

· Creation of an institutional and management capacity in government is a difficult process. This is rarely, if ever, the highest priority of governments; as a result, government agencies charged with managing natural resources are usually neglected and financially strained. Again, international assistance is essential.

In the absence of agricultural intensification outside the areas to be protected, conservation efforts are bound to fait Only rapid gains in output per unit of land will induce fast growing populations to stay out of the remaining intact forests and other ecosystems that should remain undisturbed.

Conservation of biodiversity depends directly upon preservation of natural habitats, particularly tropical primary moist forests which contain the greatest diversity of species outside of certain marine environments. Habitat destruction is the greatest cause of extinction of species overall For species that are acutely endangered by commercial exploitation, additional protection is needed in the form of controls on harvesting and on international trade. Such controls can only be effective if the governments of both producing and consuming countries are committed to enforcing them.

The single most important factor to ensure the preservation of landbased natural ecosystems will be meeting the demand for food, wood, and other agricultural and forest products on a sustainable basis. Soil and water resources must be protected by protecting important watersheds—by maintaining natural forests and, where these are already degraded, by replanting or allowing natural regeneration to take place The critical issue of meeting the needs for woodfuels and timber must be addressed from both the production and the demand side. While commercial logging of remaining primary moist forests should be greatly reduced (if not banned entirely), because the available evidence indicates that it cannot be sustainable, there must be a major increase in resources for the sustainable production of fuelwood, lumber, and pulpwood. This must come from farm forestry, as well as from plantations and well-managed production forests located in areas where the original forest system has already been substantially altered by logging. At the same time, energy conservation must be promoted, both through economic policy measures such as appropriate pricing and through the development and extension of technical innovations.

The most important element is agricultural intensification outside of forests and wilderness areas. Without it, Africa's forests and wilderness areas stand little, if any, chance of survival in the longer run. The ultimate environmental collapse can be postponed by reducing the rate of population growth. The preferred option combines maximum agricultural intensification with sharply curtailing population growth and far more determined and effective management of environmental resources.

The role of governments

There are important functions to be fulfilled by government agencies, and there is an urgent need to develop the requisite institutional and human capacity to undertake these. They include carrying out resource inventories and mapping, preparing land use plans, managing protected areas, and monitoring logging and the use of agricultural, pasture, wetland, and fisheries resources. Governments also need to develop the capacity to undertake environmental assessments of development projects in order to avoid unacceptably negative environmental impact.

Governments should focus their direct management efforts on a much smaller portion of the total national land and forest resources—i.e., those areas that provide public (and global) benefits and goods. This will consist mainly of parks and other protected conservation areas where there are important externalities that local populations cannot be expected to finance or otherwise support. Even there, local participation will be necessary. The local people should be given incentives to conserve the resource endowment of the protected area through the confirmation of exclusive hunting and gathering rights, the provision of employment opportunities in the various support services required to manage protected areas, and a share of any user fees that are collected from outsiders.

NGOs can play important roles in assisting local people in managing natural resources. Where they are ready and willing to assume this role, they should be given wide room to do so.

Governments should also intensify their efforts to provide effective and locally relevant environmental education through the school system and through mass media. Agricultural extension staff should similarly be utilized to spread awareness of environmental issues' and especially of soil, water, and tree conservation techniques, among rural populations.

A problem common to all natural resources is that financial returns to conservation are often lower than economic returns. Individuals and private enterprises will therefore tend to undertake less conservation and more exploitation than is economically optimal. In circumstances where the economic returns to conservation are high, but the financial returns too low to induce adequate conservation by private resource users, taxes on natural resource use (logging fees, mining royalties, water charges) and subsidies for conservation (free extension advice to farmers, costsharing for soil conservation activities) are likely to be justified to close the gap between economic and financial returns. Making this determination, and imposing the necessary taxes or providing the required subsidies, are functions of government.

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)