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close this bookThe Courier N 121 March-april 1990- Dossier Refugees - Country Reports: Botswana - Zambia (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)
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Samir AMIN: La Faillite du dloppement en Afrique et dans le Tiers Monde (The failure of development in Africa and the Third World) - L’Harmattan, 7, rue de l’Ecole Polytechnique, 75005, Paris, France - 380 pages- FF 190 1989

“Development has broken down. Its theory is in a state of crisis and its ideology is in doubt. There is, alas, general agreement about failure in Africa. But opinions on Asia and Latin America are divided, with some people pointing to the economic success of the newly industrialised nations, of South Korea and Brazil and India, and concluding that the only possible development is that which is intelligently slotted into the more far-reaching internationalisation of all the economies of the planet. These are the examples to follow, they say, abandoning the illusions of ways other than that of transnational integration, since, as it happens, socialism itself is in a state of crisis in both the Eastern bloc and in the Third World nations which look to it, and the socialist countries themselves are being forced to go in for drastic revision and trying to go for internationalisation again”.

This latest work by Samir Amin, the prolific Egyptian writer and economist who runs the African office of the Third World Forum in Dakar, sets out to analyse this breakdown in development from a political standpoint, for discussing choices against a macro-economic background, he says, now only yields predictable results which are known in advance. We must aim higher, integrate every (social, economic, political and cultural) dimension into the analysis and, at the same time, put them in a local setting and take account of how they interact at international level. This analysis of the failure of development tries to explain the hypotheses on which it is based, in particular those to do with the theory of the State, and the nation, the theory of the inter-State system and so on, and to give historical depth and a cultural dimension to the discussion of the contemporary development crisis.

The first four chapters deal with the various dimensions of this crisis (the economic situation. the drift in 1975-85, the crisis of State and society and the vulnerability of Africa).

The next four outline what the author calls “another kind of development, neither statism nor liberalism”. Amin looks at the content and internal political and social conditions of this and then discusses the external conditions which would encourage its deployment, both through South-South cooperation and a gradual veering of the world system towards a better balanced political and economic polycentrism.

This other kind of development is, Amin feels, a real political project in a polycentric world which has not been reduced to the five great powers (the USA, the USSR, Europe, Japan and China), but replaces the duopoly of the superpowers which are still marginalising the Third World and is genuinely polycentric, offering real room for development to Asia, Africa and Latin America.

World Wide Fund for Nature: Conservation Yearbook 1987/8. WWF International, Av. du Mont-Blanc, 1196, Gland (Switzerland)- 1989 675 pp.- £ 16.

The Yearbook is the only comprehensive published record of WWF’s conservation work. With over 700 pages, listing work in 80 countries, there are numerous gems of information, such as the method used by biologists to identify individual black rhinoceroses by their footprints; how the giant bamboo femur, thought to be extinct, was rediscovered in Madagascar; how modern man can learn agricultural techniques from the Amazonian Indians; and about ‘Operation Airlift’, the successful flight from Mauritius to the UK to propagate the sole survivor of a plant species.

The Duke of Edinburgh, international President of WWF has added a foreword in which he pleads for a greater share of the $ 40 bn spent each year on development: “If only we could persuade more governments and agencies to fund major strategic conservation projects, such as reafforestation, the control of poaching... limitation of atmospheric pollution... and the conservation of soil and water, the chances of restoring the world to health would be far greater... If we can keep up the pressure on decision-makers and maintain the momentum of conservation projects, we may still have something worthwhile for our children and grandchildren to enjoy and admire.”