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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


Over the past thirty years, most of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has experienced very rapid population growth, sluggish agricultural growth, and severe environmental degradation. Increasing concern over these vexing problems and the apparent failure of past efforts to reverse these trends led the authors to take a fresh look at the available research findings and operational experience. The objective was not to compile and address all of the agricultural, environmental, and demographic issues facing Africa or simply to juxtapose these three sets of problems. It was to gain a better understanding of the underlying causes and to test the hypothesis that these three phenomena are interlinked in a strongly synergistic and mutually reinforcing manner.

The need to survive—individually and as a species—affects human fertility decisions. It also determine people's interactions with their environment, because they derive their livelihood and ensure their survival from the natural resources available and accessible to them. Rural livelihood systems in SSA are essentially agricultural, and agriculture is the main link between people and their environment. Through agricultural activities people seek to husband the available soil, water, and biological resources so as to "harvest" a livelihood for themselves. Such harvesting should be limited to the yield sustainable from the available stock of resources in perpetuity so as to ensure human survival over successive generations. Improvements in technology can increase the sustainable yields or reduce the resource stock required. Population growth should thus be matched or surpassed by productivity increases so as to safeguard the dynamic equilibrium between the stock of resources and the human population depending on it for survival Over the past thirty years. this has not been the case in most of Sub-Saharan Africa.

This study's findings confirm the hypothesis of strong synergies and causality chains linking rapid population growth, degradation of the environmental resource base, and poor agricultural production performance. Traditional African crop and livestock production methods, traditional methods of obtaining woodfuels and building materials, traditional land tenure systems and land use arrange meets, and traditional gender roles in rural production and household maintenance systems were well suited to survival needs on a fragile environmental resource endowment when population densities were low and populations growing slowly. But the persistence of these traditional arrangements and practices, under severe stress from rapid population growth in the past thirty to forty years, is causing severe degradation of natural resources which, in turn, contributes further to agricultural stagnation.

Rapid population growth is the principal factor that has triggered and continues to stimulate the downward spiral in environmental resource degradation, contributing to agricultural stagnation and, in turn, impeding the onset of the demographic transition. The traditional land use, agricultural production, wood harvesting, and gender-specific labor allocation practices have not evolved and adapted rapidly enough on most of the continent to the dramatically intensifying pressure of more people on finite stocks of natural resources.

Many other factors also have a detrimental impact on agriculture and the environment These include civil wars, poor rural infrastructure,lack of private investment in agricultural marketing and processing, and ineffective agricultural support services. Inappropriate puce, exchange rate, and fiscal policies pursued by many governments have reduced the profitability and increased the risk of market-oriented agriculture, prevented significant gains in agricultural productivity, and contributed to the persistence of rural poverty.

A necessary condition for overcoming the problems of agricultural stagnation and environmental degradation will be, therefore, appropriate policy improvements along the lines suggested in the 1989 World Bank report on Sub-Saharan Africa's longer-term development prospects (World Bank 1989d). These policy changes will be instrumental in making intensive and market-oriented agriculture profitable—thus facilitating the economic growth in rural areas necessary to create an economic surplus usable for environmental resource conservation and to provide the economic basis for the demographic transition to lower population fertility rates. That this can occur has been demonstrated in a few places in Africa that pursued good economic and agricultural policy, invested in agriculture and natural resource conservation, and provided complementary supporting services to the rural population. This study provides evidence for both the causes of the problem and its solution.

The three basic concerns

Population Growth

Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind other regions in its demographic transition. The total fertility rate (TFR)—the total number of children the average woman has in a lifetime—for SSA as a whole has remained at about 6.5 for the past twenty-five years, while it has declined to about 4 in all developing countries taken together. As life expectancy in SubSaharan Africa has risen from an average of forty-three years in 1965 to fifty-one years at present, population growth has accelerated from an average of 2.7 percent per annum for 1965-1980 to about 3.0 percent per year at present. Recent surveys appear to signal, however, that several countries—notably, Botswana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe—are at a critical demographic turning point. This study discusses the factors that have contributed to the beginning of the demographic transition in these countries.

Agricultural Performance

Agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa increased at about 2.0 percent per annum between 1965 and 1980 and at about 1.8 percent annually during the 1980s (Table A-9). Average per capita food production has declined in many countries, per capita calorie consumption has stagnated at very low levels, and roughly 100 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are food insecure. Food imports increased by about 185 percent between 1974 and 1990, food aid by 295 percent But the food gap (requirements minus production)—filled by food imports, or by many people going with less then whet they need—has been widening The average African consumes only about 87 percent of the calories needed for a healthy and productive life (Table A-10). But as with population growth, a few African countries are doing much better, with agricultural growth rates in the 3.0 to 4.5 percent per annum range in recent years (Nigeria, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Benin). The policies of these countries help show the way forward.

Environmental Degradation

Sub-Saharan Africa's forest cover, estimated at 679 million ha in 1980, has been diminishing at a rate of about 2.9 million ha per annum, and the rate of deforestation has been increasing (Table A-19). As much as half of SSA's farmland is affected by soil degradation and erosion, and up to 80 percent of its pasture and range areas show signs of degradation Degraded soils lose their fertility and water absorption and retention capacity, with adverse effects on vegetative growth. Deforestation has significant negative effects on local and regional rainfall and hydrological systems. The widespread destruction of vegetative cover has been a major factor in prolonging the period of below long-term average rainfall in the Sahel in the 1970s and 1980s. It also is a major cause of the rapid increase in the accumulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O), two greenhouse gases, in the atmosphere Massive biomass burning in Sub-Saharan Africa (savanna burning and slash-and-burn farming) contributes vest quantities of CO: and other trace gases to the global atmosphere. Acid deposition is higher in the Congo Basin and in Cd'Ivoire than in the Amazon or in the eastern United States and is largely caused by direct emissions from biomass burning and by subsequent photochemical reactions in the resulting smoke and gas plumes. Tropical forests are considerably more sensitive than temperate forests to foliar damage from acid rain. Soil fertility is reduced through progressive acidification. Acid deposition also poses a serious risk to amphibians and insects that have aquatic fife cycle stages; the risk extends further to plants that depend on such insects for pollination.

Unlike the situation of population growth and agriculture, there are few environmental success stories in Africa, although there remain large parts of Central Africa that are little touched In looking closely, however, places can be found, such as Machakos District in Kenya, where environmental improvements have occurred along with rapidly expanding population. Good agricultural and economic policy, and investment in social services and infrastructure, are found to be the critical ingredients to such success (English and others 1993; Tiffen and others 1994) These positive experiences form the empirical basis for an action program to overcome the downward spiral elsewhere, which is discussed below.

Key elements of the ''Nexus''

Shifting Cultivation and Transhumant Pastoralism

Shifting or long-fallow cultivation and transhumant pastoralism have been appropriate under conditions of slow population growth, abundant land, limited capital, and limited technical know-how. The ecological and economic systems were in equilibrium The key to maintaining this equilibrium was mobility. People shifted to a different location when soil fertility declined or forage was depleted. This allowed the fertility of the land to be reconstituted through natural vegetative growth and decay. For field cropping, this typically involved farming a piece of land for two to four years, then leaving it fallow for as long as fifteen to twenty-five years. Herders' mobility generally involved a far greater geographic range, but a far shorter temporal cycle, dictated by the seasonal availability of water and forage.

As long as land was abundant, more land could be gradually brought into the farming cycle to accommodate the slowly growing populations. Where population density increased slowly, the traditional extensive agricultural production systems gradually evolved into more intensive, and eventually permanent, systems which intruded soil conservation, fertility management, various forms of agroforestry, and the integration of livestock into farming systems. This has happened, for instance, in the Eastern African highlands, in Rwanda, and in the more densely settled areas of northern Nigeria.

But in most of Sub-Saharan Africa the scope for further expansion of cropland has drastically narrowed. Large areas of forests, wetlands, river valley bottoms' and grassland savanna have already been converted to farmland This can be seen particularly in most of West Africa and in traditional grazing areas of eastern and southern Africa. On average, per capita arable land actually cultivated declined from 05 ha per person in 1965 to slightly less than 0.3 ha/person in 1990 (Table A-18). In many areas, rural people are increasingly compelled to remain on the same parcel of land, yet they continue to use their traditional production techniques Soil fertility and structure deteriorate rapidly where fallow periods are too short and traditional cultivation methods continue to be used As a result, crop yields decline and soils erode. In most areas, population growth has been so rapid that the reduction of arable land per farmer and the associated soil degradation have greatly outpaced the countervailing innovation and adjustment by farmers. When farming is no longer viable, people migrate to establish new farms on land previously not used for farming—in semiarid areas and in tropical forests where soil and climatic conditions are poorly suited to annual cropping Migrants bring with them the knowledge of only those farming techniques they practiced in the areas they left, and these are often detrimental to their new environment.

In some countries, land continues to be more abundant in relation to current population. But in some of these land-abundant countries, much of the land is under tropical forests which need to be preserved. Id most of Africa/ rapid population growth is pushing settlers to extend farming and grazing into areas that are agroecologically unsuited to these forms of land use.

One of the conditions that stimulated Asian farmers to adopt "green revolution" technology—the abundance of labor relative to cultivable land—is increasingly emerging in parts of SSA (see, for instance, Pingali and others 1987, Lele and Stone 1989). But institutions and individuals have not been able to adapt quickly enough in the face of very rapid population growth. Slow technological innovation because of ineffective agricultural research and extension systems is only part of the reason. The poor transport infrastructure throughout most of SSA severely blunts farmers' incentives to switch from subsistence to market production and from extensive to intensive farming. inappropriate agricultural marketing and pricing as well as fiscal and exchange rate policies have reduced the profitability of market-oriented agriculture, prevented significant gains in agricultural productivity, and contributed to the persistence of rural poverty. Poorly conceived and implemented agricultural projects have not helped. The lack of agricultural intensification in most of Africa has meant that expanding rural populations must depend on increasing the cropped area, to the detriment in many cases of natural resource sustainability.

Women's Time and Their Role in Agriculture and Rural Production Systems

The widespread prevalence of gender-specific (gender-sequential and/or gender segregated) roles and responsibilities in rural production systems maybe a major factor contributing to agricultural stagnation and environmental degradation and even to the persistence of high fertility rates. In many areas, women have primary or sole responsibility for food crop production, and they usually manage separate fields for this purpose. Women also tend to have significant obligations concerning labor to be performed on men's fields and with postharvest processing activities.

Given women's triple roles—child bearing/rearing, family and household maintenance, and production/income earning activities— the pressures on their time continue to intensify. With increasing deforestation, combined with growing populations requiring more fuelwood, fuelwood has become scarcer Women must walk farther to fetch it or reduce the number of hot meals prepared. Increasing populations put greater pressure on available water resources, while environmental degradation reduces the availability and accessibility of water. Women must walk farther to fetch water, and get their daughters to help them. Throughout much of rural Sub-Saharan Africa, women also are the primary means of porterage. In the absence of adequate rural transport infrastructure and of means of transport other than human porterage, women spend substantial time headloading not only water and fuelwood, but farm produce and other commodities to and from their homes.

As growing numbers of men leave the farms to work in towns and cities, women are increasingly taking on primary responsibility for farm operations—while their recourse to male labor is diminishing. About 70 percent of Congo's farms are today managed by women, for example, and in Ghana more farmers are women than men. Moreover, the expansion of higher-input cash cropping under male control tends to increase demands on female labor for traditional female activities such as weeding and harvesting. In Zambia, women in farm households headed by males contribute more hours daily than men to farm work (8.5 hours versus 7.4 hours) and nonagricultural tasks (5 hours versus 1.1 hours). At the same time, women are traditionally confronted with severe restrictions on access to Land and capital. These restrictive attitudes persist and today are reflected in limited access to e-tension advice; to productive land; to institutional credit; and to improved production, processing; and transport technology. In Botswana, a 1984 study found women contributing almost 70 percent of the value of crop production, but receiving the benefit of less than 15 percent of national agricultural outlays. These constraints, combined with intensifying pressures on women's time, severely impede productivity improvements and intensification of women's farming operations. Most women farmers have little choice but to continue practicing traditional low-input, low-productivity farming which, with sharply shortened fallow periods, is neither environmentally sustainable nor viable in terms of longer-term agricultural productivity. The severe pressure on women's time also retards progress in cash crop production controlled by men that depends on significant female labor input at critical times.

The heavy pressure on women's time also has implications for infant and child welfare and, hence, infant and child mortality — with significant repercussions on fertility aspirations and attitudes toward family planning. More contentious is the hypothesis that the multiple work burdens and the heavy time pressure on women may be a contributing causal element behind the persistent high population fertility rates. Additional labor is often the only factor of production that women can easily add, or are able or even compelled to add, in order to meet their multiple and increasing production and household management responsibilities. The combination of traditional attitudes and constraints with greatly increasing workloads of women may thus be part of the explanation for the continuing extraordinarily high fertility rate in SSA, now about 6.5 children per woman on average (compared to less than 4 in other developing countries).

There are, of course, many other factors that contribute to these high fertility rates. Traditional attitudes that favor numerous offspring, particularly sons, play an important part Polygamy and the widespread practice of women marrying considerably older men are both phenomena that tend to increase women's economic and social dependency on sons and, hence, their willingness to bear many children. High infant and child mortality rates, resulting, among other things, from poor nutrition and poor maternal and child health care, are potent inducements to maintaining high fertility rates. The relative importance of these and other factors has not been established, and may never be. Nevertheless, the severe and increasing pressure on women's time and the significant gender-based constraints faced by women in their pursuit of both traditional and nontraditional farming activities may be preventing the emergence of women's demand for fewer children and thereby contribute to the persistence of high fertility rates.

Land Tenure Systems

Customary land tenure systems provide considerable security of tenure on land brought into the farming cycle (clearing, cropping, fallowing, reclearing) through customary rules of community land ownership and allocation of use rights to members of the community. Inmost cases, the tenurial security enjoyed by members of the community is sufficient to induce investment in land Outsiders, or strangers (i.e., nonmembers of the community) may obtain use rights of various types, but in many cases with considerably less long-term security. As long as populations increased only slowly and the demand for land use rights by migrants from other communities remained modest, traditional systems were able to accommodate the emerging need to move towards de facto permanence of land rights assigned to community members (Magrath 1989; Migot-Adholla and others 1991).

There are, however, other aspects of traditional land tenure systems that have not adjusted rapidly enough to changing economic conditions. In most traditional systems, for instance, the individual users' ability to transfer land use rights is subject to significant constraints—due to customary norms and/or the absence of effective administrative and legal mechanisms. Tree tenure arrangements are often distinctly separate from land use rights pertaining to the cultivation of annual crops and can result m serious conflict. Much common property land— forests, wetlands, and range lands—has become de facto open-access land end has been converted to farming, often with significant negative environmental consequences. In many areas where traditional land rights systems provided for overlapping and complementary uses by sedentary farmers and transhumant herders, the development of valley bottoms into permanent cropland has created major constraints on the mobility of herders, with negative implications for environmental integrity. Increasing population pressure and agroenvironmental problems are inducing considerable rural-rural migration. Since migrants often come with conflicting traditions of land allocation and land use, strangers' tenurial rights and their implications for land resource conservation are of increasing concern. These various pressures are causing traditional land tenure systems to break down, reducing tenurial security.

Most governments and external aid agencies have mistakenly believed that traditional tenure systems provide inadequate tenurial security and that these systems are not conducive to the introduction of modern agricultural technology and market-oriented agriculture. They also witnessed the erosion in customary laws and practices regulating land use that occurred as a result of significant rural-rural migration, changes in social values and customs, and ambiguities created by the overlaying of "modern" land administration systems over traditional ones. In many instances, this led to the emergence of de facto open-access systems that are not conducive to resource conservation or to private investment in soil fertility maintenance and land improvement.

Many governments have responded by nationalizing the ownership of land—and then allowing customary rules to guide the use of some land, while allocating other land to private investors and public projects. Often, the well connected have used their influence to wrest land from its customary owner occupants. The result has been reduced, rather than improved, tenurial security. In most cases, this has accelerated the breakdown in customary land management and the creation of open access conditions, especially in forest and range areas. In open-access conditions, settlement and exploitation by anyone are permitted and environmental degradation is invariably rapid. Where governments allocated individual land titles—as in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Cd'Ivoire—this generally ignored the prior existence of customary tenure arrangements, and more often than not, the actual results have differed considerably from the stated intent. Local community and individual land resource management has been discouraged, while political and economic elites have succeeded in alienating the land from its traditional owners and users. This has skewed land distribution and intensified the exploitation of land resources for private short-term gain.

Forest and Woodland Exploitation

Me heavy dependency on wood for fuel mud building material has combined with rapid population growth to contribute to accelerating forest and woodland destruction. This is particularly severe around major urban centers where it has led to the appearance of concentric rings of deforestation. Fuelwood has generally been considered a free good, taken largely from land to which everyone has the right of access. This has impeded the development of efficient markets for fuelwood. Urban woodfuel prices reflect primarily transport costs, not the cost of producing trees, and there will be no incentive to plant trees for fuelwood production until transport costs to urban markets become high enough to justify periurban planting This is beginning to happen around some cities and in very densely populated areas, but the scale of such planting is very inadequate. Alternative fuels, such as kerosene or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), are mare costly to obtain and not available in open-access conditions, and are therefore not replacing woodfuels in significant quantities.

Commercial logging has significantly contributed to deforestation. Although directly responsible for no more than 20 percent of forest destruction in SSA as a whole, it has been considerably more destructive in some countries, such as Cd'Ivoire. Moreover, logging usually leads to a second phase of forest destruction: logging roads provide access for settlers who accelerate and expand the process of deforestation that the loggers have begun. Logging concessions rarely take into account the traditional land and forest use rights of forest dwellers. These rights, once eroded, are disregarded by new settlers penetrating along the logging roads.

The degradation and destruction of forests and woodlands accelerate soil degradation and erosion, eliminate wildlife habitat, lead to loss of biodiversity, and have severe implications for local and regional climates and hydrological regimes. Deteriorating climatic and hydrological conditions negatively affect agriculture. The worsening fuelwood situation forces women and children to walk farther and spend more time to collect fuelwood. Closely related, and increasingly of concern, is the fact that animal dung and crop residues are being used as fuels. fender conditions of shortening fallows, characteristic of much of SSA, the economic utility of dung and crop residues is far greater when they are used to maintain soil fertility. People also must walk farther and/or pay more for building materials and the many important nonwood forest products they depend upon for medicinal purposes, home consumption, and traditional crafts and industries. For forest dwelling people, forest destruction threatens not only their lifestyles and livelihood systems, but their very survival.

Population growth revisited: Feedback from the Nexus

Agricultural stagnation and environmental degradation probably inhibit the demographic transition because they retard economic development, which is the driving force behind this transition. The extraordinarily high fertility rates prevailing in Sub-Saharan Africa are the result of many factors. The fundamental problem is low demand for smaller families. In many societies, becoming a parent is a precondition for becoming a socially recognized adult. Fertility enhances female and male status, while infertility can result in severe anxiety and, particularly for women, can be socially and economically devastating. Such wide-spread phenomena as polygyny and women marrying considerably older men tend to increase women's eventual economic and social dependence on sons and hence their willingness to bear many children.

Infant and child nutrition and mortality are affected by the availability of safe potable water and by the number of nutritious and warm meals provided. Where environmental degradation reduces the availability and accessibility of water and fuelwood, there is a negative impact on infant and child mortality and hence a positive impact on parental demand for more children. Where girls are kept out of school to help with domestic tasks, including water and fuelwood fetching, there are strong negative repercussions for their fertility preferences and their ability to make knowledgeable decisions about family planning once they reach childbearing age.

The preference for many children is also linked to economic considerations. In many communal land tenure systems, the amount of land allotted for farming to a family by the community (through its head or its chef de terre) is a function of the family's ability to clear and cultivate land With hired labor in most settings being rare (although labor pooling for certain tasks is not uncommon), it is family size or, more correctly, family labor that determines land allotment This is also true in open-access systems where the size of holding equals land cleared and cultivated. This counteracts efforts to simulate demand for fewer children. Moreover, as long as there is (or is perceived to be) as yet unfarmed and unclaimed land available, there is no incentive for individuals to manage their land more intensively or to limit their family size so they can bequeath a viable {arm to their offspring.

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.


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."