The developing countries can claim that their battle against desertification has been hampered by lack of money. While it is certainly true that globally not enough has been spent on desertification, money has been pouring into selected areas, in particular the Sahel. During 1975- 80, the region received at least $7.46 billion in aid, a per capita figure of $40 a year; in Africa as a whole, the figure was only $19 and in the rest of the world even less. Yet the situation in the Sahel has deteriorated steadily.
To assess how much has been spent on activities against desertification is no easy task, especially when trying to isolate the UNCOD and post-UNCOD periods from other actions undertaken in arid and semi-arid lands. Action was already underway before UNCOD. For instance, by 1977, some $500 million had been mobilized for the first Sahelian Development Programme, and a total of $3 billion in new projects had been approved for the first five-year period.
But the institutional machinery within countries as well as the one through which international assistance is channelled have a sectoral character. Specific ministries or agencies deal with each sector of the economy, and institutionalized sectoralization is duly reflected in the budget structure of both donor and recipient countries. There is no ministry for anti–desertification activities, no specific budget provision. Some regional institutions were created in arid and semi-arid lands but normally with different objectives: co-ordination and/or regional development. Thus, for example, the Comite Permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Secheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS) created in 1973 had, as the name suggests, the purpose of co-ordinating efforts to cope with drought and to promote food self-sufficiency in Sahelian countries. Similarly, the main objective of the United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office (UNSO), also created in 1973, was to assist the countries of the region in their medium – and long-term rehabilitation from the drought. Hence, the activities considered were to increase food and fertiliser production, pest control and to build adequate infrastructure, mainly roads, to make remote areas more accessible.
The existing institutional machinery is reinforced by the tendency inherited by all disciplines, to offer a sectoral approach to a phenomenon that is fundamentally interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary, and therefore, multisectoral: each institution or expert thus tends to see the problem only from the restricted perspective of its or his field.
Such an approach is also easier to implement, precisely because of the existence of a sectorally oriented institutional machinery. It was difficult even for specialized donor agencies and assistance organizations to isolate the anti desertification effort from others.
It is hard to estimate how much of various funding sources has actually gone to projects which can be specifically described as anti-desertification. Patchy figures exist. USAID, for example, estimates that during 1978-83 it spent more than $1 billion on projects ‘judged to be within the framework of the UN Plan of Action’. This was 20% of total USAID expenditure on food and agriculture projects over that period.
According to a U.S. report, during 1970-80, the World Bank provided $1.7 billion for 82 desertification-related projects, a figure which was increased by national and other donor contributions to $4.15 billion. Over the same period, FAO spent $294 million on technical assistance against desertification in 34 countries. UNEP spent $14.6 million from 1977 to mid-1983, and UNSO $82.2 million from 1977 to I981. According to the OECD, all donor countries collectively spent about $1 billion a year on desertification projects (over and above contributions to multilateral organizations which may have eventually gone to anti desertification work) between 1970 and 1980.
But only about $200 million was spent on actual field projects, although national governments probably contributed at least as much again.
In an evaluation report prepared for UNEP, the author estimated that, worldwide, some $7 billion had been spent on projects with a desertification element during the six years 1978– 83, but that no more than $400 million had been spent on activities to control desertification in the field. Most of the rest had gone on ‘road construction, buildings, water supplies, research, training courses and meetings’.
Dregne doubted that this money was really laying a sound basis for field activity and pointed out that the money actually being spent in the field was only one– seventh of the total needed to halt desertification; even the total expenditure amounted only to about half of what was needed to implement the Plan.
An evaluation of the financial assistance and aid to areas affected by desertification is easier for the Sudano-Sahelian countries, and in particular for the Sahelian countr ies, partly because of the existing mechanisms such as UNSO and CILSS , but also because these are the countries most affected by long-term drought.
Berry estimates that the Sudano-Sahelian region was receiving $4.7 billion worth of development assistance per year in 1980 – but that only $150 million of it, about 3.5%, was allocated directly to desertification control.
This amount is more than double that of 1975. Taking inflation into account, however, the real aid contribution in constant (1975) dollars is $3.07 billion. Berry estimates that the total amount needed in the Sahelian region per year for desertification control alone is at least $320 million (1980 dollars). This is probably too little since it does not take into account financial requirements for such activities as sand dune stabilization, protection of woodlands and such supplementary measures as monitoring the desertification process, and providing alternative renewable energy sources to avoid the cutting of fuelwood.
Because of the sectoral character of available data (which are provided for agriculture , rural development, food, education, energy, health, transport, industry, etc., but not for desertification), it is very difficult to identify which part of total development assistance goes to the fight against desertification.
To identify the anti-desertification component or the impact on desertification control, it is necessary to review all projects individually. There is a tendency to assume that financial assistance to agriculture, rural development and forestry is more likely to be in favour of anti-desertification activities than assistance to urban-based activities. It is reported, for instance, that in the Sahelian countries only 24% of aid is directed to agriculture and forestry, less than 40% of all agriculture and forestry projects being rural based. The rest of the money is spent on urban support activities. Yet in developing countries, the great majority of the population lives in the countryside. Percentages are particularly high in the Sahel, e.g. 91% in Burkina Faso, 87% in Niger, 83% in Mali and 82% in Chad.
According to UNEP’s Executive Director Far too much technical and financial assistance has gone to show-piece projects and into measures aimed at appeasing the more politically advantaged urban populations. By comparison, rural populations which tend to lack political clout – especially in the more remote semi-arid regions- are all but ignored. And even when it comes to allotting funds for rural development, agroforestry and other ecologically sound activities a re nearly always at the end of the queue.
City dwellers have indeed been the main beneficiaries of international aid. Urban-rural gaps in terms of access to resources and participation in the distribution of the national product have consistently widened as a result. However, the highly condensed and generalized nature of these comments is potentially misleading.
First of all, it ignores the integral or systematic character of economic activities, and in its inter-relationships an urban-based support project may be directly related to agricultural development and can even produce important effects . The lack of an agricultural label on an aid project does not necessarily mean it does nothing for agriculture. For example, because of the growing demand of city dwellers for fuelwood, great pressure is brought to bear on the hinterland. Action aiming at a rationalization of energy use in urban areas or at providing alternative sources of energy can have important positive effects for land preservation and agricultural development.
Secondly, it tends to support the idea that whatever is rural is good and whatever is urban is bad. Urban development is a reality and politicians and decision-makers have to face that fact. Its dynamics and relationship with the rest of the socio-economic system and the natural environment have to be understood. Further more , the history of international development aid is littered with ill-conceived rural projects counter-productive for the natural environment as well as for social development.
While it is true that rural people, and in particular pastoralist and nomadic groups, have little political power, criticizing the urban bias of governments is no answer. What is needed is to give power to rural people and this can be done only by integrated and sustainable development.
Thirdly, some of the projects implicitly regarded as detrimental to rural development (e.g. highways or factories) may contribute significantly to overall socio-economic progress, and stimulate further rural development.
Similarly, the problem of cash crop rather than food crop-oriented financial assistance deserves close scrutiny. The negative environmental and social impact of homogenous cultivation and the shift from food crops to cash crops has already been mentioned.
The available evidence shows that most international financial assistance goes to cash crop projects. For the Sahelian countries, some 28% of agricultural aid was spent on cash crops (mainly peanuts and cotton). Of the grand total, only 8% was spent on rainfed food crops, only 5% on livestock raising and only I .4% on forestry/ ecology.
Developing countries are faced with a dilemma: whether to use land resources to increase foreign currency earnings, or to put the production of food crops for home consumption first . Countries have to strike a balance between environmental constraints and development goals both in the short and in the long term. This is what was recommended by the Lagos Plan of Action for the African countries, which stated:
Research should also be intensified in the area of root crops, tubers and soya beans, and in improvement of production and nutritional values of all food crops; research should also continue in the area of agricultural export products, which bring in not only the foreign exchange needed for development, bu t also provide raw materials for domestic production.
Often, however, the final decision is based more on such considerations as anticipated return on investment and donors’ interests, which both tend to tip the scale in favour of cash crop investment.
Many of the countries directly affected endorse the goal of food self–sufficiency, yet pay scant attention to the kind of rural development which will make that possible.
Some countries have suffered from an overdose of ill planned aid. This has been followed by a flood of international advisors and development experts who have not always improved matters.
Poor planning and inadequate national support , resulting from over-stretched resources within recipient nations, have increased the rate of project failure.
Recipient Country Priorities
However, the UNCOD Plan of Action involved a great deal more than specific field projects. It required governments to face up to the problem of desertification , assess its significance, prepare a national plan of action integrated into national development planning, and set up a national body to co-ordinate anti-desertification action.
UNEP‘s Executive Director states:
Without coherent national plans and lacking adequate government mechanisms, countries have carried out little of what the Plan of Action proposed regardless of the impact on them being made by desertification. Assessments of the problem have generally not been made nor have national priorities been established.
Dregne was more specific:
Governments do not see desertification as a high priority item. Rangeland deterioration, accelerated soil erosion, and salinization and water-logging do not command attention until they become crisis items. Lip service is paid to combating desertification but the political will is directed elsewhere. There seems to be little appreciation that a major goal of many developing nations, that of food self-sufficiency, cannot be attained if soil and plant resources are allowed to deteriorate.
It seems that planners and decision-makers actually fail to make the connection between desertification and failure to achieve food self-sufficiency. The fact is that, although many countries have declared food self-sufficiency a national aim, they have done little or nothing about desertification. Evidence of the type of priorities can be gleaned from the analysis of a number of different indicators: levels of domestic spending on agriculture, access of the small farmer to agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, attempts at land reform, and per capita earnings of those employed in agriculture.
Data on domestic expenditure on agriculture in desertification affected countries is sparse and unreliable. The most serious attempt to assess the situation has been made by FAO. During I 9 78- 82, I3 out of 37 countries for which data were available showed a downward trend in domestic expenditure on agriculture. In seven of them – Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Gambia and Ghana – the rate of decline was more than 10% per annum. Yet in Gambia, Ghana, Bolivia and Costa Rica, more than half of the population lives in the countryside.
Data are more abundant for the period 1978-81, but the figures are worse. Information is available on 47 countries, and domestic expenditure on agriculture declined in real terms in nearly half of them. The rate of decline was more than 10% in nearly one-quarter of them. The situation was the least satisfactory in Africa, where there was decline in half of the 14 countries studied.
The situation is even more dismal when measured by domestic spending on agriculture per head of agricultural population: in the 17 African countries for which data were available, the average level of spending actually declined by 0. 1% between 1978 and 1982.
If it is assumed that anti-desertification spending is part of expenditure on agriculture, and that soil conservation and anti-desertification are not among the priorities within agriculture budgets , then the situation appears rather gloomy.
Part of the process towards national food self-sufficiency is providing small farmers with access to agricultural inputs such as cred it, fertilisers and improved seeds. In several countries however, the small farmers – even where credit facilities exist – receive a very small proportion of total advances , mainly because the lending agencies maintain a bias in favour of larger farmers in order to minimize administrative costs and risk.
In such a situation small farmers with very limited resources concentrate on productive rather than protective activities, looking for short–term tangible returns, rather than soil preservation, let alone regeneration. Small farmers using marginal land are likely to have a negative imp act, leading to soil deterioration and ultimately to desertification. Another factor is that lending agencies almost never consider anti-desertification or soil conservation among their criteria. Therefore, larger farmers do not receive any incentive from financial organizations and finally do not assign any priority to measures liable to prevent soil deterioration.
The use of fertiliser can be considered as an indicator of efforts to restore the lost bioproductivity of land. Yet the consumption of fertiliser in developing countries is still at very low levels partly because of increasing prices and partly because of the lack of foreign currency. It is even reported that, in some African countries, fertiliser use has actually declined over the past few years . Developing countries covering the greater part of the world account for only about 20% of world consumption of fertiliser in nutrient terms. It should be no ted, in addition, that according to FAO more than half the fertiliser goes to export-oriented cash crops.
Land reform is often critical for the success of desertification projects. Such projects are by their nature long-term. It follows that where farmers have only short-term tenure of their land – as is common in Latin America and Asia – they have little incentive to invest either money or labour in projects from which they may never receive the benefit. In many parts of Africa, land is often owned on a semi communal basis, and farmers are given the right to crop certain areas by village chiefs. In Burkina Faso, the land is reallocated every few years. Farmers who have no reassurance that they can go on farming the same land far into the future have less incentive to ensure its long-term fertility, and even less to plant on it trees which take more than a decade to mature.
Legal rights concerning trees often discourage tree planting. In some countries, because all forest land is owned by the government, people fear that if they plant trees, ownership of their land will revert to the government. Elsewhere , people who have the right to crop their land may riot actually have the right to cut trees and shrubs which grow on it (this is equally the case in the United Kingdom or Switzerland). In parts of the Sahel, farmers are unwilling to grow certain tree species because they are on the forest department’s protected list; to crop or prune them, farmers have to go through tedious procedures to prove they planted the trees and own the land – and even then, they must obtain a cutting permit.
Since the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD) in 1979, land reform has been as closely monitored as available statistics will allow. However, since WCARRD, ‘only five countries have introduced significant policy changes … with a view to making land available to the rural poor.’ These include Benin, Cape Verde and Zimbabwe. Over the past 15 years , major reforms have been carried out in four African countries – Angola , Ethiopia, Mozambique and Tanzania – which have made the land the collective property of the people, the community or the state. However, FAO notes that, in Africa, ‘there have been no drastic changes in policies effectively governing customary land tenure . . . land reform has not usually gone beyond the promulgation of a law vesting all land titles in the Government.’
Lack of progress here has had immediate and serious results on attempts to control desertification. For example, in the Sahel, USAID has actually decreased its funding for forestry projects following an evaluation exercise. The Agency found that its projects were not producing expected results because the local people were not getting the benefits from the trees and were therefore unwilling to protect them. Pastoralists, who number one in ten of Africa’s population, are in an even worse situation. Although the Action Plan called on governments to make every effort to improve conditions for pastoralists, very little has actually been done.
In the FAO’s view:
A few countries have tried to provide pastoralism with an institutional backing largely through the creation of pastoralists’ associations, but such efforts are rare and are an exception to the general rule of neglect and apathy towards pastoralism. Organizations of large-scale commercial ranch operations have in some cases deprived the pastoralist population of their traditional grazing areas.
Finally, a key indicator of rural development is provided by income levels in the agricultural sector. In developing countries as a whole , there has been some progress; but FAO again notes that the ‘agricultural population in a large number of African countries (16 out of 37) experienced an absolute decline in agricultural income while their counterparts in about two-thirds of the Near East and Far Eastern countries increased incomes by an impressive rate of more than 4% per annum.
In five African countries, per capita agricultural income declined at a rate of more than 3% per annum, implying that their level of income nearly halved within a period of 12 years. Among them are Botswana, Ethiopia, Niger and Zaire – all countries subject to desertification.
Few analysts have so far managed to provide any overall quantitative evaluation of the role of rural and agricultural policies in combating desertification. One indication of the relative importance of the issue is provided by Olive who has compared the role of adverse weather conditions, political unrest and inappropriate agricultural policies in agricultural production decreases in Sub-Saharan Africa (see Table 3).
The Cash Crop Issue
Although agricultural policies vary from country to country, they also differ markedly in terms of the crop itself: cash crops are treated very differently from food crops. Farmers raising cash crops tend to get the limited credit facilities, fertilisers, pesticides, advice and marketing assistance available in most Third World nations. They also tend to get the best land. But, as governments have been emphasizing cash crops to balance their budgets, revenues from these commodities have been falling steadily, encouraging governments to devote even more land to cash crops.
During the colonial period, the peanut was the main cash crop in many Sahel countries. In Senegal, half of all cultivated land is used to grow peanuts. Peanuts have now been supplemented in many areas by cotton. Significantly, cash crop production in the Sahel increased steeply during the period of severe drought , while food production slumped. During 1967– 72, for example, peanut production in Mali increased by 70% and cotton production by 400%. The implications of cash crop monoculture for the soil have been examined in Chapter 2. What is important in this chapter is to point out that. because of the need for foreign currency, governments tend to establish measures and incentives for the expansion of cash crop production which have a number of adverse effects.
Increased demand for cash crops has virtually wiped out fallow time and crop rotation systems which proved their worth over decades by both maintaining the land in good condition and producing food crops as well. Typically, peanuts were either grown in rotation with millet , or grown for three years , followed by a six-year fallow period. Crops were also grown in association with acacia tree species, which helped fertilise the soil and provided shade and fodder during the dry season.
The introduction of mechanization had led to the removal of trees from the fields. Expensive community projects to reintroduce acacia trees are now in operation. Meanwhile, soil fertility has declined so much in some areas that the amount of fertiliser needed threatens to make the crop uneconomic. Instead of being encouraged, fallowing is actively discouraged. In Senegal, for instance, a law has been introduced which removes the ownership of land from any farmer who does not plough within a three-year period. (In Tunisia, a law actually grants ownership to farmers who plough up communal grazing land.) Farmers unable to afford sufficient fertiliser are forced to expand cash crop production on to more land in order to maintain their income.
In the late 197 0s, three-quarters of Senegal’s export earnings came from peanuts and four-fifths of Chad’s from cotton. Both governments and large farmers in West Africa have become critically dependent on cash crops to pay for imports and taxes, respectively. This continued concentration of agricultural interest on non-food crops, grown mainly by large farmers , for the specific purpose of earning foreign exchange, has played an important part in increasing the desertification hazard in many countries.
In spite of that, cash cropping is not, of course, intrinsically associated with desertification.
In developing countries, the little room for manoeuvre over the balance of payments and foreign exchange situation has been exacerbated recently by falls in international trade and by commodity pricing structures. The prices received by developing countries for raw materials are now at their lowest levels for 30 years, while many of the imports needed in developing countries have reached all-time price highs. In Africa as a who le, the purchasing power of agricultural exports for imported manufactured goods and crude petroleum in 1982 was only 55% of its value in 1978. Since 1978, the agricultural export prices of all developing countries have been falling in real terms at an annual rate of between 10% and 17%.
However, the lack of any short-term alternative and urgent foreign currency needs tend to increase the cash crop area.
Pricing Policies and Import Controls
The situation with regard to food crops is quite different. Food prices are deliberately kept at artificially low levels in most developing countries in order to placate potentially troublesome urban populations. The farmers get little for their produce, and have small incentive to produce larger surpluses, and no money to invest in improved seeds, tools, fertiliser and irrigation which are badly needed if the goal of food self-sufficiency is ever to be attained. This policy – coupled with the fact that cash crops get more government extension and credit support than food crops – encourages farmers to switch to cash crops, making the official goal of food self-sufficiency even more elusive. By favouring homogenization of culture in arid or semi-arid areas and use of marginal land for food crops, this policy contributes to the desertification process.
Low food price policies would make more sense if they were on a nation-wide basis. They rarely are. State-run grain agencies buy harvests cheap and sell them cheap in the cities. They have little control over sales in the countryside, where trade is dominated by efficient speculators who may buy cheap in the cities and sell dear to the very farmers who were forced to sell cheap in the first place.
As Twose writes, ‘In reality, rural populations, lacking political muscle, have been all but ignored by hard-pressed Sahelian governments who look at national figures or regional shortages but seem unable to focus down on the individual family’s ability to obtain food at different times of the year.’
Prices are not the only problem. In Tanzania, as in many developing countries, laws require that cereal surpluses be sold to the national milling company. Officially, collection is made from the villages shortly after harvest. In practice, poor organization, lack of vehicles, spares and fuel, and dirt roads which are frequently impassable to trucks, mean that farmers often have to wait up to a year to sell their produce. Most villages have only traditional stores for grain, and by the time the truck arrives they have either rotted or been eaten by rodents.
Projects to help villagers build modern grain stores have been in operation for several years. Here again, national policies are counterproductive. Because of harsh import restrictions, virtually no materials are available to the villagers to build their stores with. They are therefore forced to make their own bricks. But bricks can be made only after the rains, when sufficient water is available. The rains occur shortly before the harvest, when food supplies are at their lowest. At this time of the year, many of the men are forced to travel to work on the fields of large farmers to earn enough money to pay for food until the harvest. Con sequently, there is little or no labour available for brick making, and progress in erecting storage sheds is slow.
This is but one example of the unexpected implications of national policy on the rural poor. Import restrictions and the protection of foreign exchange are needed in countries with low export potential. Yet they often work to the detriment not only of the few manufacturing industries with export potential but of the rural poor themselves. And if there is nothing available for farmers to buy, there is little reason for them to strive against difficult odds to increase their in come. Such examples emphasize the need for policies which favour the rural farming community. In Africa, few such policies exist. Even FAO is relatively outspoken in its criticism of current policies:
A bias against agriculture gene rally, and food production in particular. has become built into the socio-economic structure of many African states, and affects such fundamental issues as exchange-rate and taxation policies, relative price levels, and priorities for the development of infrastructure. It is reflected also in the relatively low prestige attached to work in the farm sector. If food production is to find a new vitality many countries will have to alter profoundly the attitude towards agriculture held not only by planners and politicians but also by the population as a whole.
But it should also be pointed out that to revitalize food production the fundamental resource must be preserved and regenerated, i.e. the soil. Hence policies for agriculture and rural development must explicitly incorporate elements of environmentally sound management and anti-desertification measures.
Food Imports and Food Aid
Meanwhile, most countries afflicted by desertification are dependent on food imports, if they can afford it, and on food aid if they can’t (see Table 4). Either way, they enter a vicious circle which it becomes increasingly difficult to break out of. Imported food consumes foreign exchange which might be better spent on agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and seed. And cereal imports in the last 20 years have increased very rapidly in most of the low-income countries, including China and India. Developing countries imported in 1960– 61 a total of 20 million tonnes of grain. In 1977– 78 the figure was 70 million tonnes and 98 million in 1979. If the trend continues, imports can be expected to reach 120 to 145 million tonnes by 1990. Imports in 1983– 84 were expected to be 19% higher than in the previous year; and 22% higher in Africa.
Many developing countries are importing increasing amounts of prestige foods, such as wheat and rice, following the shift in urban demand. But if food tastes change in this way, food self-sufficiency becomes even more elusive, for these crops are often difficult to grow in arid and semi-arid countries, especially where the threat from desertification is high. In 1982, developing countries unable to grow wheat on any significant scale were importing more than 12 million tonnes of it. Increasing demand for such foods means increased imports, which in turn reinforce Western patterns of consumption.
International food aid often fuels the change in consumption patterns because the donors mostly give their own surplus products. Usually, food aid neither matches the tastes of the recipient population nor meets their food habits and needs. Thus food aid promotes the change in nutritional habits and the shift away from indigenous foods suited to the local characteristics of soil and climate and to the tastes of the local population. This can have extremely serious implications for the most vulnerable among the local population, such as children suffering from malnutrition: the new type of food can result in the propagation of diarrhoeal diseases and a sharp increase in mortality. Massive aid in the form of milk and sweet bread has been shown to have this type of effect. As the population gets used to the new foods, measures are taken to stimulate home production of crops unsuited to local conditions. Productivity is low and the soil deteriorates.
The need for imported fertilisers and pesticides severely taxes the scarce foreign currency reserves.
Nor is it easy for the rural people themselves to adapt to the new crops and cultivation methods.
When the demand for the new types of food persists after the emergency and cannot be met by local production, imports have to be increased. The fact that food aid is becoming a rather regular practice in several countries affected by desertification means that the local population is more exposed to the new tastes and may finally adopt the new nutritional pattern.
Finally, it should be also considered that aid can serve other purposes in the recipient countries. Just as for donor countries aid can be a good way to get rid of surplus stocks and maintain internal prices, so it helps recipients to alleviate their budgetary problems.
About 70% of the $1.25 billion worth of food aid sent to developing countries is given or sold cheap to governments, who usually sell it in turn and use the proceeds to help balance their budgets. Only about 30% of this food is meant to be distributed free of charge to the poor (only about I 0% is meant for disaster relief). Thus relatively little of the food aid sent to the Third World does what the donor public thinks it does, i.e. feed the very poor and the disaster victims.
The 70% which recipient governments control can even serve to make the poor poorer, to introduce new tastes and delay agricultural development. Food which governments can make available fairly cheaply to urban citizens or the army can help keep down prices of domestically grown foods. Farmers have little incentive to return to their fields to grow crops they may never be able to sell. Also, it has proved extremely difficult to keep the produce out of the hands of traders intent on making exorbitant profits.
Finally, the massive flow of aid may also run into handling difficulties because of the lack of infrastructure. Food aid has been massively misused in the Sahel, 4 4 though this is not the place for an extensive analysis. It is enough to quote one recent first –hand report from the field, on Senegal:
Before the start of the 1984 rainy season, Dakar harbour could no longer cope. With hangars and silo s full to the brim, grain simply spilled over the harbour walls. whereas hundreds of tons of rice carelessly stored in the open or on the floor, simply rotted away. Broken rice…unfit for human consumption was auctioned off to the highest bidder. Clever traders,…sect leaders with excellent connections with top decision-makers make quick profits from this just as they were reported to profit from tax-free food imports from the Ivory Coast and from a 2,000-ton emergency animal feed programme, financed by Switzerland, that had originally been meant for needy cattle breeders in the hardest-hit Sahelian region in the country.
This illustrates the fact that aid not only often has no positive effect on rural development and desertification control, but does not even alleviate the food problem in arid and semi-arid areas.