Contents - Previous - Next
This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at http://unu.edu
World Food Programme (WFP)
The use of agricultural surpluses to stimulate economic and social development was the basic rationale for the creation of the World Food Programme. Stemming at least in part from the successful experience of the United States in disposing of agricultural surpluses through Public Law 480, the UN General Assembly-together with FAO- created WFP in 1961 to carry out multilateral food aid. WFP was first established on a three-year experimental basis, with initial assets of US$100 million in cash and commodities. Its success in implementing food aid projects and in attracting additional funding resulted in its mandate being extended in 1966 "to continue in being for as long as multilateral food aid is found to be feasible and desirable" (FAO 1973). The governing body of WFP is the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes (CFA).
TABLE 20. Contributions to WFP (million $)
Contributions to WFP can be made in the form of commodities, cash, or services. Historically three-fourths of the contributions are in the form of commodities, and another 5 to 10 per cent are in the form of services. (In this context services usually means the transport of commodities, typically by shipping lines of the donor country.) Table 20 indicates the growth in contributions for WFP's regular budget from 1975 to 1984. In commodity terms, however, pledges increased only from 829,000 metric tons in 1969 to 846,000 metric tons in 1979 (WFP 1981a).
Table 20 also shows the contributions channelled through the Food Aid Convention (FAC) and the International Emergency Food Reserve (IEFR). FAC was a 1980 agreement calling for an increase in global food aid to 7.6 million tons per year from its previous level of 4.2 million tons. FAC also included guidelines on the quality and type of foodstuffs IEFR was established in 1976 as a means of separating emergency food assistance from the food aid used for developmental purposes. Since 1981 IEFR contributions have exceeded the minimum annual target of 500,000 tons, and in 1984 more than 655,000 tons were pledged.
Expenditures in 1980 were $572 million, resulting in a net deficit of $4 million. Since the cumulative surplus at the beginning of the year was $103 million, this deficit did not pose any problem (WFP 1981b). Freight costs represented the bulk of cash expenses, amounting to $122 million, or 22 per cent of all expenditures. Commodities accounted for 73.5 per cent of all "expenditures", but three-quarters of this was donated in kind. Advisory and administrative services accounted for only 5 per cent of total expenditures (WFP 1981a).
In contrast to nearly all other UN agencies, WFP has managed to continue growing despite the general cutbacks in multilateral assistance. For 1985-1986 WFP is aiming at $1,375 million, which would make its budget nearly equivalent to that of UNDP. Such growth is possible as long as the relatively small group of major donors continue to produce such large surpluses of agricultural products.
In 1980 roughly 70 per cent of WFP's assistance went towards development projects. These are either "food-forwork" projects-in which labourers receive up to 50 per cent of their wages in food-or the provision of low-cost meals to school children, infants, pregnant mothers, or refugees The food-for-work projects are usually directed towards agricultural development and rural infrastructure. Typically the projects are labour-intensive such as road building or the construction of irrigation systems. Over the last 15 years there has been a general trend to carry out larger and longer~term projects, as this minimizes the administrative workload.
Emergency food aid is provided in the case of natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes, drought) and man-made emergencies (war, civil unrest). As might be expected, the proportion of WFP resources used for emergency relief varies considerably from year to year. In 1980 emergency relief absorbed 29 per cent of WFP's resources as compared to 11 per cent in 1979, reflecting greater need in SouthEast Asia, Africa, and South Asia. Most of this emergency aid was handled through I EF R. As with WFP, 90 per cent of IEFR's resources come from the United States, the European Economic Community and its member countries, Sweden, and Australia (WFP 1981c). Of some concern to WFP is the fact that donations are increasingly earmarked for specific purposes, which limits WFP's flexibility. Donations also have tended to be short in high-protein foodstuffs, but the 1980 Food Aid Convention set guidelines that should help to minimize this imbalance.
Like UNDP, WFP has made a conscious effort to help the least-developed countries. At present it states that 86 per cent of development food aid is directed towards the low-income countries (WFP 1981c). In the case of the seven Sahelian countries, from 1963 to 1972 developmental food aid totalled just $23.6 million, which was less than 2 per cent of all WFP development aid (FAO 1973). Emergency aid over this same period was $12.5 million, or 10 per cent of the total emergency aid provided by WFP. In early 1981 the situation was considerably different, with at least three WFP projects under way in each of the CILSS countries. The total value of these projects ranged from $5 million in the Gambia to over $26 million in Senegal.
Emergency relief to the Sahel has continued on a sporadic basis since the end of the 1968-1973 drought. As a result of the civil unrest and the relatively poor rains in 1980, Chad, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, and Upper Volta all requested emergency assistance. WFP/FAO then organized multi-donor missions to review the requests and make recommendations on the type and amount of food aid (WFP 1981d). On this basis $20 million of emergency assistance WK approved. In 1981 most of the emergency assistance was directed towards Chad, but in 1982 the harvest was again inadequate and substantial amounts of emergency food aid were provided to Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal. The situation took a major turn for the worse in 1983, and WFP committed over $37 million for emergency relief.
WFP has also been assigned a co~ordinating role for bilateral and multilateral food aid to the Sahel, even though its own contributions have not been dominant. This role as coordinator is shared with FAO, WFP's parent body, as well as with such organizations as UNDRO, UNSO, and Cl LSS/ Club du Sahel. Providing food aid to the Sahel is particularIy difficult because of the two to four weeks it takes for shipments to travel from the coast to the capitals of Chad, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. Problems of pilferage and spoilage due to poor storage conditions are common, while the lack of infrastructure makes distribution a difficult process. In view of the unpredictable problems involved in distributing perishable commodities, particularly in emergencies, WFP's executive director has been given more flexibility and responsibility than the heads of most other UN agencies. This has helped to lessen the time needed to approve projects and the amount of paperwork involved, but it is not clear that it will reduce the lag in providing emergency aid to acceptable levels.
World Health Orpnization (WHO)
The World Health Organization was founded in 1946 as a specialized agency of the United Nations, integrating several existing international organizations active in the health field. With a staff of 5,500, WHO is one of the largest UN agencies. Its activities include disease control, establishing standards for food and drugs, work on environmental health, and maintaining health statistics. It is also deeply involved in research as well as technical assistance and the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information. it has been particularly energetic in reducing the high staff costs at headquarters in order to increase the proportion of funds devoted to technical co-operation. In conjunction with this it is attempting-like many other UN agencies- to decentralize its operations. Most of WHO's programmes relevant to the Sahel are now handled through the regional office in Brazzaville.
For 1982-1983 the regular budget was estimated at $484 million, which was a 13 per cent increase from 1980-1981. Just over half of this was designated for country and intercountry activities, with another 6.5 per cent for global and interregional activities. Costs incurred at headquarters, at the regional offices, and by the governing bodies still require over 40 per cent of the budget (WHO 1980a). Another $430 million was expected from outside funds. In contrast to many of the other specialized agencies, WHO receives only a minor portion of its outside funds from UNDP; the Pan American Health Organization, the Voluntary Fund for Health Promotion, and various trust funds are more important sources (WHO 1978).
Given the relatively poor standard of health and healthcare activities in Africa, particularly in the Sahel, it is not surprising that WHO has been devoting an increasing proportion of its resources to Africa. Although the development of natural resources is not in WHO's mandate, the utilization of much of the Sahel is dependent on the con. trol of human and animal diseases such as schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, and sleeping sickness. Thus WHO's activities are of potentially great relevance and must be closely coordinated with other development projects.
Approximately $7.2 million was designated for country programmes i n the Sahel for 1982- 1983, relatively evenly divided among the Cl LSS countries. Major activities include country health programming, primary health care, epidemiological surveys, immunization programmes, basic sanitary measures, and training. The single largest component is training, usually done through group courses. Outside sources are providing another $3.1 million for the country programmes, with most of this designated for maternal and child health (WHO 1980b).
The largest project of interest in the Sahel is a regional effort, co-ordinated by WHO, to control onchocerciasis in an area of 700,000 square kilometres of the Volta basin. Supported by a special trust fund, this effort encompasses much of Benin, Ghana, Cote d'lvoire, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso Onchocerciasis ("river blindness") is a disease caused by a parasitic worm transmitted by the female blackfly in the process of feeding on blood. Since the blackfly larvae require oxygen- and nutrient-rich fast-flowing waters to breed, much of the Sahel is free from the disease, but the areas with blackflies are, of course, those with abundant water supplies and hence the highest potential for development. As drugs are relatively ineffective, control measures focus on eliminating the blackfly vector by putting pesticides into the rivers to kill the larvae. Phase I I of the project is scheduled from 1980 to 1985 and will cost an estimated $106 million, with the World Bank providing most of the funds. The project has been experiencing some difficulties because the adult flies are found to travel much further than was previously thought, perhaps as much as 500 kilometres. Thus formerly cleared areas are being reinvaded, and without the regular application of pesticides the disease cannot be kept down to tolerable levels (Lamb 1979). Some of the vector species are also evolving strains resistant to the pesticides being used (WHO 1984). These problems may nullify the planning and resettlement processes-already under way- which assume that the disease will be eliminated.
Similar problems of reinfestation are encountered in attempts to eradicate the tsetse fly, which infests much of the more productive, southern part of the Sahel. Transmitting sleeping sickness to both cattle and humans, this fly can effectively exclude people from large areas if uncontrolled. Traditionally, control has been by the widespread application of pesticides andlor destruction of the woody vegetation. This not only is expensive but involves obvious negative side-effects,
Another set of activities of great significance to the development of the Sahel is the work on schistosomiasis. In this case the vector is an aquatic snail, whose preferred aquatic habitat is such that physical instead of chemical control measures can be used. The key question is whether the damming of major rivers and the building of irrigation systems will increase the incidence of the disease. Active control measures will have to be taken concurrently with these development projects and probably continue indefinitely.
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
Created by the General Assembly in 1951, the World Meteorological Organization is a successor to the International Meteorological Information Organization. The core of WMO's activities are the collection and exchange of meteorological information through programmes such as the World Weather Watch. WMO also carries out major research and training programmes, as well as a variety of technical assistance activities. UNDP is the main source of funding for the latter; it provided approximately $12 million in 1981. Another $5 million was provided through the Voluntary Co-operation Programme, although most of this was actually contributions in kind (e.g. staff and equipment). Generally WMO's technical assistance activities are concerned with strengthening national departments of meteorology and hydrology, setting up various types of training centres, and evaluating water resources. Altogether 271 students began training in 1981, with another 311 continuing or completing their fellowships. Of these fellowships, 11 were from Chad, 7 from the Gambia, 8 from Mali, 4 from Mauritania, 14 from Niger, 1 from Senegal, and 10 from Upper Volta (WMO 1985).
WMO has been responsible for a major, long-term project to strengthen agro-meteorological and hydrological services in the Sahel. Supported by UNDP, CILSS, UNSO, and bilateral sources, this project has developed a network of trained personnel to collect and analyse meteorological and hydrologic data. A telecommun ications network has been set up to relay the data to a central institute in Niger. This centre is then responsible for the application of the data and for training activities in the region (WMO 1982),
A related project is concerned with hydrological forecasting in the Niger River basin. Funded by OPEC, UNDP, and the European Economic Community, it also is attempting to link eight countries in the acquisition and analysis of data. Training of local personnel is again a major component of this effort.
Like many of the other specialized agencies, WMO is dependent on outside funds for most of its technical assistance activities. WMO's regular annual budget of approximately $22 million is too small to provide many fellowships and grants, so it tends to use these funds for gathering and publishing data and for research, While this is a very useful function, particularly in the Sahel, where data are so scarce, it is less attractive to donors than the usual development efforts. This may partly explain why WMO has had some trouble collecting its assessed contributions. By the end of 1984, for example, only 89 per cent of 1984 assessed contributions had been collected, with 27 countries having lost their right to vote as a result of being two or more years in arrears (WMO 1985). Since the major donors have not expressed discontent comparable to that directed at ILO or Unesco, WMO is likely to continue with little substantial change in either size or activities.
World Bank (International Bank for Raconstruction and Development, IBRD)
The Internationat Bank for Reconstruction and Development was created in 1945 to assist in the economic development of member countries through long-term loans and technical assistance. While the loans of the Bank are on a commercial basis and must be guaranteed by the recipient country, a subsidiary organization (International Development Association, or IDA) was created in 1960 under pressure from the developing countries to provide loans on a "softer" basis to the poorest countries. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), an allied but legally and financially independent organization, was established in 1956 to provide loans to private enterprise. Together these make up the World Bank group, and they are technically a specialized agency of the United Nations that reports to the Economic and Social Council (fig. 5). In reality, the World Bank has maintained considerable autonomy within the UN system and seems to be little involved in inter-agency politics. Nevertheless, co-operation with many of the other UN agencies is relatively close. For example, IBRD sometimes acts as an executing agency for UNDP projects, and UNDP or FAO projects often serve to prepare proposals for loans from the World Bank group.
The World Bank is also unique in that voting is not on a one-countrylone-vote basis but is related to the number of shares held by member governments. Thus, it is dominated by the industrialized countries, with the United States holding about 20 per cent of the votes in both IBRD and IDA, This method of voting has led to a conservative, Western-oriented lending policy, which has been the basis for considerable criticism. It has also been a major reason why there has been a trend to set up more "progressive" regional banks (Singh 1973).
In financial terms, the activities of the World Bank dwarf even UNDP, with $15,300 million of lending and investment commitments in fiscal 1983 ($9,400 million in disbursements). The International Finance Corporation accounted for only 5.5 per cent of this total, and since its investments to promote growth of the private sector are on a private basis (i.e., without governmental guarantees), we will not consider IFC further.
IBRD accounted for 73 per cent of the 1983 commitments of the World Bank group, or over $11,000 million. Its loans are on a semi-commercial basis, although there is an average grace period of four to five years. The volatile and generally high interest rates of recent years have forced IBRD to make its loans on a variable-interest basis and to charge a front-end fee. By mid-19B3 the more favourable economic picture had reduced current interest rates to 10.5 per cent and the front-end fee to 0.25 per cent. IBRD's administrative costs were $322 million in 1983, or nearly 5 per cent of total disbursements. These and other costs are covered by a combination of the 0.5 per cent spread betvveen borrowing costs and the interest rate charged, interest on capital, and the front-end fees.
Whereas World Bank loans can be made to commercial enterprises as long as they are guaranteed by the government, IDA loans (called credits) can only be provided to governments. These credits carry only a 0.75 per cent service charge-no interest-and have a 50-year maturity with a 10-year grace period. Thus IDA requires regular contributions, whereas the World Bank only requires increases in capitalization (90 per cent of which is never actually required but only guaranteed). Credits are extended only to the poorest countries; the eligibility criterion in 1983 was that per capita income had to be less than $796 (in 1981 dollars). In 1983, 44 countries were allocated $3,300 million in credits. This represents an absolute decline from the 1980 high of $3,800 million but is significantly more than the $2,700 million approved in 1982. Plans to increase credit allocations to $4,000 million per year had to be scrapped when the United States-alone among the developed countries-refused to increase its annual contribution. As a result, the funds available for soft loans will remain at $3,000 million per year, which is a decline in absolute terms.
Since 1973 there have been increasing efforts, in line with those of other aid organizations, to stimulate growth in the agricultural sector and to improve the lot of the rural poor. Some of these changes in emphasis and policy can perhaps best be illustrated by reviewing a single sector, namely forestry. In the early years of the World Bank, financing was provided only to industrial-type projects. Pulp and paper mills were financed in 1953 and 1955, and in 1968 funds were provided to assist in the establishment of industrial plantations in Zambia (World Bank 1978). Since 1970 forestry has been an important component of dozens of projects. The initial emphasis was still on highly bankable projects such as industrial plantations, pulp and paper mills, and forest extraction, but there has since been a major shift toward rural development activities. In these latter projects forestry is just one component of varying importance, depending on needs (e.g., fuelwood, timber, windbreaks) and the environment. Forestry projects in the Sahel have included establishing plantations in Niger and Mali, a mixed institution-building/plantation project in Burkina Faso, and community forestry activities in Senegal. Progress and economic return will be much more difficult to measure as the Bank supports these less traditional projects, but the local people are more likely to be the beneficiaries.
TABLE 21. IBRD and IDA lending by sector, 1983 (%)
|Agriculture and rural development||21.4||39.3||25.5|
|Development finance companies||10.6||1.8||8.6|
|Population, health, and nutrition||0.5||1.7||0.8|
|Water supply and sewage||5.7||5.4||5.6|
|Total (in million$)||11,136.3||3,340.7||14,477.00|
Adapted from World Bank 1983b
Table 21 indicates the percentage of IBRD and IDA loans and credits by sector. Generally agriculture and rural development account for just over one-fifth of all IBRD loans, while IDA credits for this sector have increased to nearly 40 per cent. Considering that IDA credits are limited to the poorest countries, which typically have 80 per cent or more of the work force engaged in agriculture, it is not surprising that this sector is the largest.
TABLE 22. World Bank loans and credits to the Sahelian countries-cumulative amounts through 30 June 1983
|World Bank Loans||IDA credits|
|Number of projects||Amount $000||Number of projects||Amount $000|
Adapted from World Bank 1983b a Shared projects (This affects
only the number of projects)
a Shared project (This affects only the number of project.)
Since the World Bank tends to make large but infrequent loans, the amount of loans and credits extended to a given country can vary greatly from year to year. In 1983 the only IBRD loan extended to the Sahel was to the West African Development Bank; all other assistance to the Sahelian countries was in the form of IDA credits. Projects approved in 1983 included four agriculture and rural development projects in Upper Volta, technical assistance in Mauritania, water/power development and technical assistance in Mali, water supplies and highways in Niger, and rural health, petroleum exploration, and phosphate development in Senegal.
The total value of the eight projects approved in the Sahel in 1983 was $197.6 million, Of this, $119.8 million was to be provided through IDA credits and $19 million as counterpart contributions by the countries themselves. Five of the projects involved other sources of financing, usually multilateral agencies such as UNDP or IFAD. In the case of petroleum exploration in Senegal, however, over half of the total cost was being provided by Petro-Canada (World Bank 1983b). While such an arrangement is rather unusual, this illustrates the broader role of the World Bank in stimulating development.
The other loans approved in 1983 indicate the range of World Bank activities: they included roadwork in Niger, assistance to the Ministry of Planning in Mauritania, improved rural health care in Senegal, and construction of a two-megawatt biomass power plant in Mali. Three separate agricultural development projects, emphasizing agricultural extension services and the provision of technical inputs, were approved for Upper Volta.
Table 22 presents data on the cumulative amount of IBRD loans and IDA credits to each of the Sahelian countries. From this it is apparent that World Bank assistance has been provided almost exclusively in the form of credits. The major exceptions have been two loans to Mauritania (one of which was to build a railroad to ship iron ore) and a number of loans to Senegal. As noted before, the disproportionately large assistance to Senegal is not unusual, as Senegal has long been identified as having sufficient infrastructure and manpower to absorb and utilize (and thus pay back) larger amounts of development assistance. Many of these loans to Senegal actually date back to the first two decades of the World Bank, when it was more comercially oriented. It is somewhat ironic that Senegal, supposedly the most credit-worthy, has had to reschedule its debt twice in the past few years. As in many other developing countries, a succession of poor harvests, a decline in commodity prices, and an increase in the cost of imports can drastically affect foreign-exchange earnings and hence the ability to pay.
African Development Bank (ADBJ)
In addition to providing over $1,500 million in loans and credits to the Sahel, the World Bank has also spurred the establishment of a number of regional banks. While these technically are not part of the UN system, they follow the same basic pattern as the World Bank and should be mentioned as another source of multilateral assistance. As noted earlier, the regional banks were created in response to complaints by developing countries that the World Bank was too paternalistic, too capitalistic, and controlled by the industrialized countries and that it financed only the foreign-exchange component of any project. Another stimulus for the creation of the regional banks came when IDA was established by the industrialized countries in lieu of a special UN fund for economic development favoured by the developing countries.
One of the regional banks is the African Development Bank (ADB), which was established in the mid-1960s despite some initial misgivings by the French. Priority is supposed to be given to multi-national projects in order to link the African countries more closely, but political differences have severely interfered with this objective. Initial limitations in capitalization, combined with the need to establish a responsible financial reputation, made it difficult for ADB to establish policies widely divergent from those of the World Bank. At one point it did propose that task forces should be set up in each of the smaller countries to help them develop key economic sectors, co-ordinate decision-making, and obtain additional aid, but this intrusion into technical assistance and financial management was not well received. In 1972 ADB established the African Development Fund (ADF), which essentially is ADB's counterpart to the IDA. In reviewing the progress of ADB, White (1973) concluded that ADB was inadequately endowed and had played only a limited role in providing financial and technical assistance.
TABLE 23. UN agencies' technical co-operation expenditures in the Sahel, by source and country, 1983 ($000)
|Other UN agencies||
|UNDP||UNDP funds||UNFPA||UNICEF||WFP||Total grant assis- tancea|
Source: UNDP 19849
A = regular agency budget;
B = external sources other than those listed.
a These values vary slightly from the totals in UNDP 19849 because of minor differences in classification and accounting.
The capital available for both ADB and ADF has increased rapidly since the early 1970s, and this has been reflected in the steady increase in loan commitments. From 1974 to 1981 ADB resources increased from $480 million to $2,776 million, and loan commitments increased from $89 million to $323 million. ADF capital increased even more rapidly, from $90 million in 1974 to $1,251 million in 1981, and its loan commitments increased from $47 million to $311 million. At about this time ADB recognized that the Africa-wide decline in per capita food consumption and the generally poor economic situation indicated a need for substantially greater lending. Policies were amended to allow non-African countries to participate. Most of the major Western countries have now joined ADB, and together they represent roughly one-third of the shares of the ADB group. Total capitalization for ADB and ADF at the end of 1983 was $5,500 million and $2,140 million respectively. ADB/ADF also administers the Nigerian Trust Fund, which has total assets of $218 million (ADB 1984).
In 1983 the ADB group made a total of 78 loans, worth $931 million. West Africa received 16 per cent of the ADB funds but 30 per cent of the more concessionary ADF funds. On a cumulative basis, ADB funds in West Africa have been directed towards public utilities and transport, while ADF loans have heavily emphasized agriculture.
In regard to policy, ADB has only recently gained the financial clout to substantially alter the pattern and methods of development finance. However, the need to demonstrate sound lending policies in order to maintain its financial standing and attract Western donors has limited the extent to which it could implement new policies. The soundness of its approach may be indicated by the fact that in 1983 donors contributed another $930 million to ADB-financed projects. ADB has also been important in demonstrating the ability of African countries to work together in generating and providing development assistance. ADB and the other regional banks have also served as catalysts for change by offering an alternative to the World Bank.
The success of ADB and the other regional banks has spurred the development of other institutions, such as the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa. While a comprehensive discussion of these other institutions is beyond the scope of this report, one of the more significant and recent developments is the formation of the Special Facility for Sub-Saharan Africa, a special fund administered by the World Bank to provide financing to restructure the agricultural sector in African countries. In particular, the Facility will attempt to increase food production by making this sector more responsive to market forces. A total of $700 million has already been pledged, and this is expected to be fully committed by 1987.
Contents - Previous - Next