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Other agencies of the UN system
Food and Agricultura Organization (FAO)
The Food and Agriculture Organization was one of the first specialized agencies created by the United Nations, as it was established concurrently with the United Nations itself. Its purposes are to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living; to secure improvements in the efficiency of the production and distribution of all food and agricultural products from farms, forests, and fisheries; to better the conditions of rural populations; and, by these means, to contribute to an expanding world economy and ensure humanity's freedom from hunger (UN 1980). Thus FAO's main thrust is improving agricultural production (e.g., food, fibre, wood, and fish} as a means of raising the standard of living, especially in rural areas. It is involved to a lesser degree in accessory activities such as data collection, population planning, and food contamination standards.
In budgetary terms FAO is one of the largest specialized agencies of the UN system. In 1982-1983 its working budget was $367 million, and another $683 million was expected to be provided from outside sources (FAO 1981a). Traditionally UNDP has been the major source of outside funds, but the proportion of funds from other sources has increased from 14 per cent in 1970 to more than 50 per cent in 1982-1983. A variety of trust funds account for the bulk of these extrabudgetary funds. Generally, these trust funds are received for support of specific programmes such as emergency relief, food security, and tree-planting. Another major source of extra-budgetary funds is government contributions for FAO projects. A summary of the estimated expenditures by programme for the bienniums 1980-1981 and 1982-1983 is given in table 16.
As can be seen from the table, the technical and economic programmes are at the heart of FAO, for they include agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. Together these account for nearly half the regular budget, but, more importantly, 91 per cent of the extra-budgetary funds are directed towards this division. The emphasis is on agriculture, with fisheries and forestry each accounting for less than 10 per cent of FAO's total funding.
FAO's technical and economic programme is organized into a series of programmatic areas, which are presented together with their respective financing in table 17. FAO dwarfs the expenditures of other agencies, such as Unesco, in most fields relating to land use and productivity. In selected areas (e.g., desertification) UNSO may play a major role, but FAO's size and long-standing presence gives it a preeminence that it is loathe to surrender. Still the creation of agencies such as UNSO,IFAD, and UNEP have all chipped away at FAO's responsibilities. One indication of this overall trend is that FAO's share of UNDP funds has dropped to about 25 per cent, as compared with 31 per cent in 1972 (FAO 1981a).
TABLE 16. FAO programme and budget, 1980-1983
|Major programme||Regular programme||Extra budgetary funds (estimated)||Total
|General Policy and Direction|
|Policy, direction, and|
|Technical and Economic Programmes|
|Development Support Programmes|
|Field programme planning and liaison||3,319||1.2||4,502||1.2||7,694||12,196||1.2|
|Technical Co-operation Programme||32,638||11.7||47,387||12.9||-||47,387||4.5|
|Information and documentation||13,122||4.7||17,157||4.6||4,771||21,928||2.1|
Source: FAO 1981b
Overall, 22 per cent of the regular budget and 35 per cent of the extra-budgetary funds are devoted to Africa. Excluding headquarters costs, the percentage of funds allocated to Africa has increased from 31 per cent in 1976-1977 to 39 per cent in 1981 (FAO 1981b). This high level of assistance is due to the facts that per capita food production in Africa has declined nearly 10 per cent between 1969 and 1981, onequarter to one-third of the population are malnourished or undernourished, the majority of the least-developed countries are in Africa, and food production must be increased while trying to maintain the export earnings of cash crops.
FAO projects in the Sahel include the control of livestock diseases-such as trypanosomiasis, tsetse fly infestation, and bovine pleuropneumonia-control of crop pests and postharvest losses, training and technology development, grazing-lands management, gathering and evaluation of information and statistics, developing food and nutrition policies, utilization of marine resources in the exclusive economic zones, meeting fuelwood demand, and strengthening national agricultural and forestry institutions.
In its overall policies FAO has followed the general trend within the UN system of decentralizing its activities and concentrating on the poorest of the poor. Specifically it claims to be emphasizing food crops rather than export crops, although it recognizes the need to earn foreign exchange. It also recognizes the need for land reform, and it took the relatively progressive step of sponsoring the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development in 1979. As with the other UN conferences, any follow-up activities are dependent on the political will in a given country or region, and in this area changes-no matter what FAO's position is-will be slow. FAO is also placing a continuing emphasis on "integrated rural development" and pushing "forestry for community development", although again it is difficult to fully evaluate the effects of these concepts at the field level.
TABLE 17. Proposed FAO technical and economic programmes for 1982-1983 ($000)
|Programme||Budget||Extra budgetary funds (estimated)||Total funds|
|Information and analysis||13,848||457||14,305|
|Exploitation and utilization||9,536||75,447||84,983|
|Forest resources and environment||2,381||34,311||36,692|
|Forest industries and trade||2,706||12,497||15,203|
|Forest investment and institutions||4,009||16,232||20,241|
|Forestry for rural development||2,495||3,045||5,540|
Source: FAO 1981a
FAO has also been relatively successful in its efforts to cooperate with a variety of funding agencies besides UNDP. For example, it often participates in "multi-donor missions" to develop projects, and then becomes the executing agency for those projects in its sphere of expertise. It also established a special investment centre in 1966 to help formulate projects for donors, and from 1977 through 1980 this centre played a role in formulating 137 projects worth $8,500 million (FAO 1981 b). Many of these projects have been developed by the FAO/World Bank Co-operative Programme, and similar links have been or are being built with multilateral funding organizations such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the regional development banks, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, etc. (FAO 1979).
FAO's Technical Co-operation Programme works on a different basis, as it is intended to provide short-term assistance in response to requests from governments. The original emphasis was on training and technical assistance in the case of emergencies caused by drought, agricultural pests, or diseases. Increasingly, however, assistance has been provided to governments (or the Investment Centre) in order to help attract other funds. About 39 per cent of the programme's resources have been devoted to Africa, and the work has tended to concentrate on plant protection, animal health, and seed production.
It is interesting to note that the increase in FAO's budget from 1980-1981 to 1982-1983 was expected to be 32 per cent. This is particularly significant in view of the fact that most of the other UN agencies are experiencing little or no real growth. As might be expected, many of the major donors opposed the scale of the increase while reaffirming their commitment to fight hunger and malnutrition. Many of the objections centred around the fact that just over half the budget will be spent on established posts in Rome (Overseas Development 1981). It is doubtful that future budgets will allow increases of a similar scale.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
The International Atomic Energy Agency came into existence in 1957 when its charter was ratified by 18 countries. Its two primary purposes are to stimulate the peaceful uses of atomic energy and to help limit and control the military use of atomic energy. Initially its work focused on the development and use of radiation techniques in medicine, agriculture, industry, and water resources development. With the commercial development of nuclear power, IAEA's emphasis has shifted to promoting the use of nuclear power and the economic, safety, and nonproliferation aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle (IAEA 1977).
With an operating budget of over $85 million in 1981 and a staff of 1,600, IAEA is involved in everything from agricultural research using radioisotopes to uranium prospecting and food irradiation. Its technical assistance budget was over $24 million in 1981. Voluntary contributions were the source of over half of the technical assistance budget, while assistance in kind and contributions for particular projects provided another 15 and 11 per cent respectively. Just over 20 per cent ($5 million) originated from UNDP projects that were being executed by IAEA. In general, the level of UNDP-sponsored activities has been relatively constant, but there has been continued rapid growth in technical assistance activities sponsored by other sources.
Of the $21 million actually expended for technical assistance, 47 per cent was used for equipment, 29 per cent for fellowships, and 24 per cent for outside experts ( IAEA 1982). Like other agencies, IAEA has been building up a surplus of funds as a result of overestimating the costs of certain projects, the inevitable lags in implementation, and the fact that some expected expenses simply are not incurred. Another factor contributing to this surplus is the accumulation of non-convertible currencies.
Given the relatively sophisticated nature of IAEA's work, it is not surprising that less than one-quarter of its technical assistance funds are being devoted to Africa. The main area of emphasis in Africa has been on the use of isotopes and radiation in agriculture, and secondarily in biology, medicine, and industry. Mineral development is another major component of IAEA's activities in Africa, and in some of the more developed countries IAEA is assisting with the general development of atomic power. At present only Mali, Niger, and Senegal are members of IAEA, and activities in the CILSS countries in 1981 were limited to a few small projects in each of the three member countries (IAEA 1982). Of course the Sahel benefits from a variety of other research projects being undertaken elsewhere, such as control of the tsetse fly through the sterile-male technique, more effective techniques for applying fertilizers, the use of radiation-induced mutations in plant breeding, and the analysis of trace-element deficiencies and of the presence of pollutants in fish and oils. Much of this research is done in collaboration with FAO or other agencies.
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
The newest specialized agency in the UN system is the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Wary of creating yet another agency that would lack sufficient resources to accomplish its intended goals, the General Assembly mandated in 1976 that IFAD could not come into existence until pledges exceeded $1,000 million. That level of commitment was reached in December 1976, and IFAD began operating in late 1977.
IFAD is conceived primarily as a bank giving loans for agricultural development. At present three types of loans are provided: (1) ordinary loans, which carry an interest rate of 8 per cent for 15 years with a grace period of 3 years, (2) intermediate-term loans, which carry an interest rate of 4 per cent for 20 years with a grace period of 5 years, and (3) highly concessional loans, which have only a service charge of 1 per cent, a maturity period of 50 years, and a grace period of 10 years. In addition, up to 12.5 per cent of the funds committed in any financial year can be outright grants (IFAD 1978). So far, 70 per cent of IFAD's lending has been highly concessional loans to lowincome countries.
IFAD is concentrating its activities on rural areas and the poorest sector of the population; one criterion is that any project must not have a regressive effect on income distribution (IFAD 1979). In its structure and governing board, l FAD is designed to counterbalance the World Bank, which is often viewed as conservative, interfering, and Western-dominated. IFAD's governing body is tripartite, with equal representation of OECD countries, OPEC countries, and developing countries. IFAD also claims to be more flexible in its requirements for counterpart contributions from governments, since many of the poorest countries can ill afford to provide items such as counterpart staff and support services, especially when a number of large-scale projects are operating at the same time and competing for scarce counterpart funds and scarcer managerial talent.
The funding of IFAD is also based on a tripartite arrangement, with $1,100 million expected in contributions for 1981-1983. Of this, $620 million was to come from the developed countries, $450 million from the oil-exporting countries, and $30 million from other developing countries. These contributions, plus $240 million in carry-over from the first set of contributions, were expected to allow annual expenditures to rise to $435 million in 1983. However, the general reluctance of the Western donors to increase their contributions, combined with the large drop in oil-derived income in the OPEC countries, resulted in contributions falling short of the 1981-1983 target. Hence IFAD has been forced to reduce its lending to approximately $310 million per year (UN Chronicle 1984), roughly 10 per cent below 1980-1981 levels (IFAD 1982). Continuing weakness in oil prices recently led to a proposal to slightly shift the burden of financing from the OPEC countries to the industrialized countries. This met with stiff resistance from the United States, and so IFAD's level of funding will remain constant in the near term.
Between 1977 and the end of 1982 IFAD made over 100 loans worth a total of $1,500 million and provided $60 million in technical assistance grants. Large concessional loans were provided to Niger, Senegal, and Upper Volta for integrated rural development projects. Mauritania obtained a similar loan for an irrigation project, and a $5 million loan was given to the Gambia for a project to assist smallholder agriculture. The loans to both the Gambia and Upper Volta were supplemented by small technical assistance grants. Over half of the technical assistance funds, however, were provided to a variety of established institutions for research purposes. Overall, l FAD is trying to take a more active role in initiating loan requests rather than relying on suggestions made by other agencies (IFAD 1982).
International Labour Organisation (ILO)
The International Labour Organisation was founded in 1919, and in 1946 it became the first specialized agency associated with the United Nations. Its purpose is to contribute to lasting peace by promoting social justice, and to improve labour conditions and living standards through international action. More specifically, ILO tries to serve
as the conscience of the world of labour, as a meeting place for governments, employers, and workers, and as an impartial observer of social phenomena and to spearhead action in the service of member states.
This socially relevant mandate has influenced the philosophy of ILO and - in the view of some - made it a very political organization. To protest the work and political stance of ILO, the United States-which contributes 25 per cent of ILO's regular budget-withdrew in November 1977. Since other countries could not take up much of the slack, l LO was forced to slash its budget by 22 per cent and reduce its staff. The United States rejoined ILO two years later, but it took some time to build activities back up to their previous level. This, combined with UNDP's liquidity crisis in 1975-1976, meant that the 1982-1983 budget was the first "normal" budget in six years.
ILO is one of the larger specialized agencies in the UN system, with a regular budget of $245 million for 19821983. An additional $288 million of outside funding was expected for a variety of technical assistance and other activities, but this was adjusted to $223 million in 1982 (ILO 1982), while the final figure was only $183 million. This reduction was due primarily to the drop in UNDP-financed activities, which traditionally have constituted more than half of ILO's outside funding (ILO 1984). To a certain extent the decline in UNDP funds has been compensated for by an increase in multilateral, bilateral, and trust funds, but these are not expected to show major increases in the near future.
ILO's 1984-1985 budget was set at $256 million, representing an increase of only 2.6 per cent. Outside funds for technical assistance activities are estimated at $167 million (ILO 1984). As a result of the decline in UNDP funds, lLO will be forced to depend more on its own budget for technical assistance and other programme activities. At present, approximately onethird of the regular budget is devoted to the technical programme. Some of the major topic areas are industrial relations, working conditions and the environment, employment and development, international labour standards and human rights, and training. These topics are furthered by means of research, publications, international meetings, the drafting of international covenants, etc. (ILO 1980).
ILO has been attempting to decentralize its field activities. A network of regional offices has been established in Africa, with an office in Dakar responsible for the Sahelian countries. The extra-budgetary activities tend to concentrate on either training or employment and development. Training projects vary considerably in terms of the level of training, target audience, and length of training. Employment and development often involve labour-intensive development activities. UNDP-supported projects, discussed earlier, include vocational training, establishing special management institutes, and assistance to smallscale artisans and entrepreneurs. Other types of projects may be concerned with technical advice, social security, health and safety of workers, etc. In summary, lLO is very active in the Sahel, but its effect on natural resource use is primarily through the long-term and indirect processes of education, training, and improving management capability.
Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Co-ordinator (UNDRO)
UNDRO began operations in March 1972 with a dual mandate. Its first responsibility is to co-ordinate relief in response to natural disasters and civil disorders. In this connection UNDRO attempts to maintain information on the location, type, and amount of emergency supplies available and on the emergency needs of countries. In all these functions UNDRO's ability to respond and co-ordinate is dependent on information provided to it by donor countries and organizations. Hence the UNDP Resident Co-ordinators must be regarded as playing a key role in UNDRO's efforts. The second part of UNDRO's mandate is to provide technical assistance in the fields of planning and predisaster preparedness (UNGA 1981b).
From the beginning UNDRO has been hampered by very limited financial resources and uncertainty regarding its precise task and priorities. In general, 60 per cent of its resources are devoted to co-ordination, 30 per cent to preparedness, and 10 per cent to disaster prevention, but there is a paucity of actual project funding. For 1980-1981 salaries consumed 78 per cent of the $4.8 million budget. Three trust funds have been set up, but in 1980 contributions for disaster prevention and pre-disaster planning totalled $46,820; for emergency relief, $4,484; and for strengthening UNDRO, $550,937 (UNGA 1981c). Furthermore, the amount of emergency relief channelled through UNDRO has dropped from an annual average of $1.7 million in 1973-1976 to an average of $430,000 from 1977 to 1980. Since UNDRO has essentially no emergency funds, the United Nations provided $360,000 as emergency relief funds for 1981, with a $30,000 ceiling on assistance to any one disaster. From 1972 until mid1980 UNDRO made 114 emergency allocations, totalling $1.8 million, which was slightly more than 1 per cent of all UN emergency aid for that period.
In the Sahel UNDRO has provided emergency flood relief to Senegal and Upper Voita, flown in generators to the Gambia, and provided assistance in Chad. In terms of technical assistance, a pre-disaster planning project has taken place in Senegal, and funds were given to Upper Volta for a fellowship (UNGA 1978, 1981b). As explained in chapter 2, UNDRO's assistance to the Sahel during the drought was very limited.
In 1980 the UN Joint Inspection Unit, which conducts indepth reviews of the performance of various UN bodies, issued a report which severely criticized UNDRO. Specifically it described UNDRO's activities as haphazard and erratic, and recommended that its staff should be cut in half and its mandate be reduced to co-ordination in the case of sudden natural disasters. Apparently political considerations have dominated staff selection and promotion, leading to a further decline in morale and effectiveness (Guest 1980).
In summary, UNDRO appears to be increasingly dependent on the United Nations for its core support, and contributions for both emergency aid and technical assistance are dropping. UNDRO's capacity to carry out its mandate, therefore, is dependent on the generosity of larger bodies. At present there doesn't appear to be the political will to resolve the situation, but if budgets continue to tighten, the General Assembly may be forced to take some precedentsetting action.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco)
Unesco, established in 1946 and based in Paris, is one of the largest specialized agencies within the UN system. Its broad responsibilities cover education, science, and culture, and its activities fall into two main areas, reflecting a dual mandate. In the first area -facilitating international intellectual cooperation-it is concerned with everything from copyrights to the support of a wide variety of scientific organizations and cultural affairs. The second area is more developmentoriented and could be termed technical assistance in a broad sense. In this latter category most of the operating funds are obtained from the World Bank, UNDP, or other organizations which use Unesco as an executing agency. Although these technical-assistance activities also cover a broad spectrum of topics, there is a concentration in education and culture, particularly since UNEP, FAO, WHO, WMO, etc. can claim greater expertise in their respective scientific fields. Nevertheless, Unesco tries to maintain a presence in important areas such as ecology, energy, and the basic sciences, and it provides a small amount of seed money for research and training. It has been reasonably successful in raising additional funds to further most of these activities, even though these more topical areas generate the most competition from other UN agencies. In the basic sciences and areas such as curriculum development other agencies are less active, for Unesco is regarded as the dominant agency within the UN system in the field of education.
For the 1981-1983 biennium Unesco's regular budget was set at $625 million. Another $379 million is expected in outside funds, with two-thirds of this coming from other UN agencies. If we exclude the amount reserved for currency fluctuations, the two largest programmes in Unesco are education and the natural sciences, with 17 and 11 per cent of the regular budget respectively. More important, these two sectors attract 46 and 35 per cent of the outside funds. The next largest programme is culture and communication, which is allocated 8 per cent of both the regular and outside funds (Unesco 1981).
TABLE 18. Unesco natural science budget, 1981-1983 ($)
|Theme||Regular programme||UN sources||Other sources||Total|
|Science and society/science and technology education||2,387,000||-||-||2,387,100|
|Science and technology policies||6,552,600||3,000,000||190,000||9,742,600|
|Scientific and technological research and training||24,800,400||62,400,000||6,400,000||93,600,400|
|Integrated rural development||211,000||-||150,000||361,000|
|Mineral and energy resources||6,745,200||9,200,000||400,000||16,345,200|
|Man and the biosphere||8,218,300||9,300,000||5,000,000||22,518,300|
|Ocean and coastal marine systems||12,146,700||16,880,000||6,250,000||35,276,700|
|Information systems and services||1,333,000||1,000,000||1,000,000||3,333,000|
Source: Unesco 1979
As with most of the other specialized agencies, UNDP traditionally has been the main source of outside funds. In 1979-1980, for example, UNDP provided about 50 per cent of the extra-budgetary funds. Altogether UN sources were responsible for more than 80 per cent of Unesco's outside funding, with UNFPA, the World Bank Cooperative Programme, and UNEP the other major UN sources. For 1984-1985 UN sources were expected to provide just 64 per cent of the outside funds, and UNDP's share was considerably less than half (Unesco 1984).
To give some idea of the breadth of activities relevant to natural resources, the key elements of the natural-science programme are presented in table 18. Within the division of natural sciences, "scientific and technological research and training" attracts over 50 per cent of the outside funds. In fact, almost all these funds are for training, indicating again that it is in education and training that Unesco is able to dominate, and this is where most of the outside funds are directed.
Africa receives at least a third of all project funds. Typically, over half of the project funds are devoted to providing outside expertise, with the balance being divided among equipment, training, and subcontracts. l n 1979- 1980 there were 36 operational field projects in the seven countries that are the main concern of this report, ranging from solar energy to curriculum development.
Activities financed by Unesco's regular budget tend to be much smaller in scale. Generally these are grants ("seed money") for seminars, research projects, and fellowships. Of particular interest is the Man and the Biosphere programme, which consists of a matrix of over a dozen different projects from the humid tropics to arid lands, and from biosphere reserves to urban ecosystems. While there are a number of activities of some relevance, the limited funding prevents a major contribution. Unesco basically provides a framework into which national governments can put projects, which must largely be financed either by the respective government or by another agency. As examples of this modus operandi, there are two large "integrated" arid-lands projects with Unesco's label, but almost all the funding comes from UNEP and other agencies (Unesco 1979).
In summary, Unesco's major projects in the Sahel tend to be financed by UNDP and are typically concerned with such things as the establishment of an engineering school in Mali or the reform of elementary education in Chad. A wide range of studies are being carried out in the Sahel and fellowships and small-scale grants are being provided, but the total of these in financial terms is quite small. Of course, over the long term the cumulativebenefits of such activities may be considerable, but the direct impact of Unesco's efforts on the natural resources base is rather small. It should be remembered, however, that Unesco did have a rather large research programme on arid lands in the 1950s and 1960s, and this helped lead to the realization that the problem of arid lands management is not the amount of information but the effective utilization of this knowledge (see, e.g., Mabbutt 1979).
In the last several years Unesco has come under increasing criticism. One major cause was a proposal to license foreign journalists, as this was viewed in most Western countries as a violation of the freedom of the press. Critics have then gone on to note the increasing politicization of Unesco and its ponderous bureaucracy. (For 1984-1985, 61 per cent of the regular budget is for headquarters and field-staff salaries and benefits [Unesco 1984] ). In late 1983 the United States gave official notice that it intended to withdraw from Unesco because of policy and budget questions, and the United Kingdom and Singapore later followed suit.
Because the United States and the United Kingdom respectively provided 25 and 5 per cent of Unesco's regular contributions, their withdrawal will force a major reduction in the 1985-1986 budget. Since discretionary funds are easier to cut than fixed costs, there is likely to be a larger reduction in programmatic activities than in staff costs. Although Unesco has shown some ability over the past few years to generate outside funds to replace the declining UN contributions, realistically only a small proportion of the lost funds can be expected to be replaced by increased donations.
As a result of these developments the future course of Unesco is uncertain. The combined withdrawal of the three countries tends to suggest that they may stay out of the organization for longer than the two years that the United States was out of I LO. It is not clear whether such actions will indeed force Unesco to make significant shifts in its policy and programmes. In any case, the idealistic glue which bound countries together in Unesco, despite disagreements over policy and specific activities, has clearly dissolved. The shattering of this unity will have repercussions throughout the UN system, and the political orientation of the observer will be critical in determining whether these are positive or negative. The situation at Unesco should also help expose the fallacy that a political body, such as the governing bodies of most UN organizations, can be expected to be "impartial" and can satisfy all members.
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