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This chapter has described some 35 UN agencies and programmes that are either active or closely related to activities in the Sahel. It has been shown that any specific aspect of natural resource development in the Sahel can be related to several different agencies. Sahel-related funding in each agency ranges from a few thousand to tens of millions of dollars. Table 23 presents the technical cooperation expenditures in the Sahel of the major UN agencies. It shows that UNDP and the World Food Programme account for well over half of the total activities. If we add in FAO and UNDP-administered funds, all the remaining agencies-Unesco, l LO, WMO, etc.-together provide only 16 per cent of the UN system's technical co-operation assistance to the Sahel. Of course, most of the United Nations' technical assistance is channelled through the various agencies, and this is not shown in the table.
TABLE 24. Sources of financing for 1982-1983 technical co-operation activities of UN organizations ($000)
|Agency||Regular programme||UNDP||Other extra-budgetary||Total|
a Includes other regional economic commissions, ICAO, ITU, WIPO, etc. (see fig. 5).
Table 23 also shows that most UN agencies rely largely on extra-budgetary funds for their technical co-operation activities Among the specialized agencies, WHO and IAEA are notable exceptions (table 24), while UNFPA, UNICEF, and WFP have a somewhat different structure and are entirely self-supporting.
Table 24 simply aggregates world-wide data to emphasize the mechanisms by which the UN system carries out its technical co-operation projects. UNDP continues to be the single most important source of funds; it provided 42 per cent of the total funds for 1982-1983. However, the recent lack of growth in UNDP resources means that its relative share has declined from around 50 per cent in the late 1970s. Other extra-budgetary funds, which include a variety of bilateral and multilateral sources, now nearly equal UNDP's expenditures. Overall, the regular programme of the UN agencies provides just 20 per cent of the technical co-operation funds, and, if WHO is excluded, the percentage drops to a more realistic 8 per cent.
In the last few years UNDP's static financing has forced agencies to look elsewhere for funds for their technical co-operation activities. For many agencies, trust funds have become increasingly important. Donors have also found such arrangements useful because they allow them to channel their funds into a particular activity and/or geographic area. Otherwise there has been relatively little growth in development assistance. As most agencies are simply trying to maintain their core budgets in real terms, one would expect the basic pattern of table 24 to continue.
Since UNDP is the primary source of technical assistance funds within the UN system, the other agencies tend to scramble to be designated the "executing agency" responsible for carrying out a project. It is beneficial to be an executing agency as it improves the agency's image, it gives the agency a chance to operate in the field, and the agency typically receives 13 per cent of the project costs as overhead. UNFPA is a noteworthy exception to this pattern because it operates similarly to UNDP, funding a substantial amount of technical assistance activities while executing relatively few projects in-house. A few agencies such as WHO and WFP carry out sizeable programmes with their own funds but generally do not contract projects out to other specialized agencies. Of course the World Bank also pumps substantial amounts of money into the technical assistance activities of the UN agencies. More surprising is the fact that the World Bank often acts as an executing agency for UNDP. Other than UNDP, UNFPA, and the World Bank, only UNICEF and UNEP contract out more technical assistance funds than they receive from other agencies. UNICEF is in this position because of its broad mandate, while UNEP must contract projects out because of its specified role as a catalyst and co-ordinator.
The exchange of funds among organizations within the UN system is extremely common, and frustrates any attempts to analyse expenditures. Agencies such as Unesco often support some activities directed by FAO, for example, as well as accept funds from FAO for other projects. Different agencies may be involved in different components of a large World Bank project, or may jointly support a particular study or conference. This type of exchange usually can be considered "beneficial" to both parties, as the donor agency is demonstrating how closely it co-operates with related agencies while the recipient agency can point out the "attractiveness" of its projects. This practice serves to blur the distinctions between agencies.
Within the UN system each agency has its own particular character, although this is not amenable to objective analysis. The first, and perhaps most important, factor is the type of work, as this tends to determine other features. For example, the degree of politicization seems to be related to the subject matter and often varies within a single agency. The agencies concerned with the natural sciences have a tendency to be more'~\lVestern-oriented" in trying to carry out specific field projects, while agencies that are more concerned with social change inevitabiy become more wrapped up in political considerations. Other important factors include the type of governing council, the source and means of contributions (voluntary or assessed), and the relative emphasis on field activities. In technical co-operation and field activities, the possible modes of operation are rather limited, so the methodological distinctions between agencies in these areas are minimal. Overall, there are very few activities being carried out by one agency that could not be done by a different agency given the funds and specific expertise.
There are, of course, a variety of mechanisms to ensure co-operation between agencies, but most agencies tend to act independently and foster an image of uniqueness. The fact that the older agencies are usually much larger and tend to dominate certain areas makes it more difficult for the smaller, newer agencies to establish an identity and attract the necessary funding. IFAD is the obvious exception, but in its case OPEC funds were instrumental. Otherwise the trend almost seems to be that, while the larger agencies are more or less able to keep up with inflation, the smaller agencies, funded by voluntary contributions, are becoming more and more marginal. Certainly the ratio of activities to administrative support costs tends to be lower in the smaller agencies, and the small agencies are more limited in both the expertise they can have available and the size of their projects. This negatively affects their image and fundraising ability and thereby further exacerbates the activities/support-costs ratio.
In general, the traditional Western donors are not nearly as interested in establishing new agencies as the developing countries. This stems partly from the potential lack of control over activities and partly from a general reluctance to increase their total UN contributions at a time when their own economies are burdened with an increasing proportion of public debt. The donors express their scepticism about special funds and the smaller, voluntarily funded agencies by keeping contributions constant in absolute terms or, in some cases, not making any contribution at all. So far only the UN Special Fund, established in 1974, has been stillborn for lack of contributions, but other special-purpose funds exist in name only (e.g., the United Nations Trust Fund for African Development Activities). Similarly, some agencies may be financially weak but just manage to keep the door open and hope for better times or support from the regular UN budget. Those who advocate an expanding role for the United Nations-and this includes most developing countries-would strongly resist any efforts to consolidate or eliminate these marginal agencies and special accounts.
Dissatisfaction with the larger agencies has been more difficult to express, and the donor countries have felt compelled to keep up their end for the agencies which, after all, they were largely responsible for creating. This reluctance to disturb the status quo was shattered by the US withdrawal from ILO and the current outmigration from Unesco. It may be that the larger donors have a certain advantage, for their contribution is significant enough to exert some financial clout. The small contributors can be effective only by banding together. In general, the developing countries have been relatively successful in co-operating to make their views heard, and this has forced the donors to rely on financial means of persuasion.
Some caution should be used in comparing the contributions of the various donors to the United Nations, for a surprising proportion of the funds may be recycled to the donor. For example, in 1981 UNDP ordered nearly $40 million of equipment from the United States and subcontracted work worth over $12 million to US firms; nearly 1,800 UNDP-sponsored fellows were studying in the United States; and over 900 US nationals were serving as UNDP experts. Without even considering the impact of UNDP headquarters in New York, it is quite clear that at least half of the US contribution of $128 million is cycled back through the US economy. Similarly, in 1981 France's pledge of $23.6 million is largely counterbalanced by orders for $8.4 million of French equipment, $5.6 million in subcontracts by French firms, 920 fellows studying in France, and 850 French nationals serving as UNDP experts (UNDP 1982q).
The links between donors and location of expenditures may be even more direct in the case of special-purpose trust funds. In some cases the provision of such funds is tied to the procurement of goods and services from the donor country. While such arrangements are the exception in multilateral assistance, they are much the rule in bilateral assistance.
The review of UN agencies also helps identify certain trends within the UN system-which tend to be more pronounced in the larger agencies. For example, both UNDP and WFP have tended towards fewer, larger projects, thereby reducing the administrative workload. Other agencies, such as ILO and FAO, exemplify the tendency to emphasize field offices and decentralize operations, which again should reduce the administrative workload by allowing more local decision-making.
More common is the touting of special themes and the espousing of "new" concepts consistent with current development thinking. One of the most basic changes over the last 15 years has been the move away from trickledown theories of development to an emphasis on the poorest countries, and a further focusing on the poorest segment of the population. Other controversies still remain. For example, the World Bank's Accelerated Development in Su-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action, published in 1981, was immediately criticized by African economic ministers for emphasizing commodity exports as a basis for development and ignoring the role of external factors as constraints. Their development concept, as expressed in the Lagos Plan of Action, emphasized "internallygenerated, self-sustaining and self-reliant development".
An important milestone was UNDP's shift in 1971-1972 from a smorgasbord approach of project funding to a national allocation based on population and various indices of the standard of living. Other agencies have followed suit, and this has helped to focus resources on the most needy. Of course, this does not guarantee that development aid will necessarily end up in the desired hands.
Another theme presently being emphasized within the UN system is technical co-operation among developing countries. In other words, there should be a greater exchange of knowledge and experience between developing countries (South-South basis) rather than from developed to developing countries (North-South basis). Countries such as Chad or Mauritania may have relatively little to share, but it should be clear that expertise or experience is much more likely to be relevant to Niger or Burkina Faso if it comes from Senegal rather than from France, Other themes that the UN agencies have taken up include the role of women, integrated rural development, and, in the case of FAO, forestry for community development. Often these concerns are expressed by government representatives within the governing body, and this may be one of the more effective ways in which the resolutions expressed at UN conferences become transmitted into action. While the heads of agencies have considerable latitude in implementing programmes, they are ultimately responsible to the governing body, and, being composed of government representatives (with the exception of the UNU), these bodies are essentially political rather than technical forums. Once this basic point is fully appreciated, agency trends and behaviour are much easier to understand.
In the following chapter an attempt is made to set the UN assistance to the Sahel in the context of all aid, whether multilateral, bilateral, or private. To the extent possible, a contrast will be drawn between the described UN activities and the processes by which non-un agencies formulate and execute development assistance.
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