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Washington, D.C., World Bank, 1987. xi, 62 p. (World Bank Technical Paper No. 61)The problem of desertification in the Sahelian and Sudanian Zones (SSZ) of West Africa is addressed. Desertification is defined as the process of sustained decline in biological productivity of arid and semiarid land. Desertification is complex and poorly understood and is caused by the interaction between drought and human abuse. Better management is a viable long term solution. In the SSZ, there is variable rainfall and low fertility soil, and resources are overexploited by humans. The focus of discussion is on defining the nature of the problems and the geographic features of the SSZ; the problem is complex and multifaceted and includes population pressure. The nature of and pressures on traditional production systems (agrosylvicultural, agrosylvipastoral, and sylvopastoral) are described as well as the carrying capacities of traditional production systems. Past development activities and common weaknesses of development activities are reviewed with reference to the agricultural, livestock, and forestry sectors. The elements of a strategy for better resources management are delineated. Some general observations are made. Actions are defined with reference to pressure on 1) carrying capacity (CC) in areas where the ratio of population (RP) does not exceed CC, where RP slightly exceeds OC, and where RP greatly exceeds CC; the issue of irrigation increasing carrying capacity is dealt with. Other elements are 2) upgrading competence in research and training, 3) reducing demand (population and wood), and 4) the policy environment (land law and incentives). Implications for actions are indicated for the members of the Comite Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Secheresse dans le Sahel, governments, financiers in general, and for the World Bank group in particular. A statistical appendix is provided with information on land distribution, soil suitability, population and distribution by a number of factors, and carrying capacity. Elementary erosion techniques and research orientations also are provided.
From empty-world economics to full-world economics: recognizing an historical turning point in economic development.
In: Population, technology, and lifestyle: the transition to sustainability, edited by Robert Goodland, Herman E. Daly, Salah El Serafy. Washington, D.C., Island Press, 1992. 23-37.The human economy has moved from an era in which manmade capital was the limiting factor in economic development to the present when remaining natural capital has become the limiting factor. Natural capital is the stock from which comes natural resources. As human populations have grown and many countries have developed economically, manmade capital has been developed and accumulated to exploit often unowned natural capital and resources as if they had no price. No self-interested social class exists to protect these resources from overexploitation. Current levels of extracting and harvesting natural capital are simply not sustainable. This concept of full-world economics, however, is not accepted as academically legitimate by those of the empty-world school. Neoclassical economics considers factors of production to be substitutable and not complementary; this is not the case for the world's stock of natural capital. Assuming that natural capital has become the limiting factor, economic logic dictates the need to maximize its productivity and increase its supply. Investment and technology should therefore focus upon preserving and restoring natural capital while improving the productivity of natural capital more than manmade capital. Population growth must be reduced in developing countries and both population growth and per capita resource use must be constrained in more developed countries. Supporting these objectives, the World Bank, the UN Environment Program, and the UN Development Programme have started a biospheric infrastructure investment called the Global Environment Facility. It will provide concessional funding for programs investing in the preservation or enhancement of the protection of the ozone layer, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, protection of international water resources, and protection of biodiversity. These issues will gain prominence in development bank lending policies.
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH. 1990 Oct; 80(10):1188-92.Health trends since 1950 in both developed and developing countries are classified and discussed in terms of causative factors: socioeconomic development, cross-national influences and growth of national health systems. Despite the vast differences in scale of health statistics between developed and developing countries, economic hardships and high military expenditures, all nations have demonstrated significant declines in life expectancy and infant mortality rates. Social and economic factors that influenced changes included independence from colonial rule in Africa and Asia and emergence from feudalism in China, industrialization, rising gross domestic product per capita and urbanization. An example of economic development is doubling to tripling of commercial energy consumption per capita. Social advancement is evidenced by higher literacy rates, school enrollments and education of women. Cross-national influences that improved overall health include international trade, spread of technology, and the universal acceptance of the idea that health is a human right. National health systems in developing countries are receiving increasing shares of the GNP. Total health expenditure by government is highly correlated with life expectancy. The view of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that health care should be privatized is a step backward with anti-egalitarian consequences. The UN Economic Commission for Africa attacked the IMF and the World Bank for promoting private sector funding of health care stating that this leads to lower standards of living and poorer health among the disadvantaged. Suggested health strategies for the future should involve effective action in the public sector: adequate financial support of national health systems; political commitment to health as the basis of national security; citizen involvement in policy and planning; curtailing of smoking, alcohol, drugs and violence; elimination of environmental and toxic hazards; and maximum international collaboration.