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CTA Bulletin

CTA and the promotion of rural development through book distribution

One of CTA's tasks is to provide information on request to researchers, extension workers, planners, farmers' organisations, trainers and information specialists involved in agricultural development in ACP states. In addition to requested publications, CTA also distributes publications on its own initiative to its target groups. These publications, some 550 titles, are also supplied free of charge and consist of books published by CTA, co-published, or purchased specially because of their relevance. In 1995, almost 65 000 books were posted to ACP countries.

The people who receive the publications to some extent select themselves, because they write to CTA with requests for information. They find out about its existence through attending CTA seminars held in ACP countries or in Europe, or through seeing copies of Spore (CTA's bi-monthly bulletin in English, French and Portuguese which goes to around 50 000 addresses and is seen by many more), or by word of mouth. Over the years, CTA has built up a mailing list of 42 500 addresses of people and organisations active in some way in agriculture and rural development. Of the total, 37 800 are in ACP countries.

But there are questions. Are our books getting to those who need them and is the targeting accurate enough? And, most importantly, is this the best way of doing things ? For CTA does not - and cannot - satisfy the total demand for books on agriculture and rural development.

What is the best way?

Despite the number of addresses on the mailing list, many more people could in theory still be added. Should CTA even try to satisfy this demand ? The publications are free and, if CTA increased its coverage of the demand, it might in some countries hold back the development of local bookselling with a consequent detrimental effect on local publishing.

The majority of those now on the mailing list are 'individuals' rather than institutions, libraries, documentation centres, associations, organisations, etc. On the face of it, more people could be reached by sending CTA publications to groups rather than to individuals, but it's not always clear who is an individual in the sense of information not being shared with others. Some individuals are teachers, some are extension agents, some receive publications on behalf of a cooperative, for example.

Because of the importance of information - the driving force behind development - CTA has been investigating and giving support to technical publishing and book distribution in Africa over the last few years and is currently examining its own policy on book distribution over the ACP countries as a whole. Part of the context for this policy re-appraisal is the state of bookselling.

Difficulty of book distribution

Everyone involved in the books business in and for the ACP countries knows that getting books where you want them to go, book distribution, is not straightforward. The reasons for the difficulty are not straightforward either. One development officer remarked of Papua New Guinea that the lack of books outside the capital, Port Moresby, couldn't simply be explained by lack of roads, because in the most out of the way places you could be sure of finding Coca Cola. Is it, then, that the Coca Cola company has superior marketing and distribution arrangements ? Probably so, but it is the nature of the two products which also determines how far they get. Traders will more readily take goods which they know they will be able to sell easily and the immediate satisfaction given by cigarettes or Coca Cola tends to put them before books in the list of priorities for purchase.

Among the ACP countries where CTA sends books and information, many have under-developed road and rail networks while the postal facilities provide a reliable service only to a relatively small part of the country. The local book publishing and bookselling industries are often themselves developing. Potential readers often cannot afford to buy the books and consequently book distribution is the weak link in the chain from writing and publishing a book to selling it. If books can't be sold, new ones can't be published, for the investment finance for a new publishing project has to come from somewhere.

In Africa, the lack of a strong local book sector was attributed in part to the traditional oral culture of the continent which left little need for reading. The majority of students would read in order to pass their exams, after which they hardly sought books again to buy or to read.

The main books distributed were therefore textbooks for schools, colleges and for higher education. As long as these were distributed through booksellers, a forum still existed for displaying and raising interest in other books.

Booksellers could also function as sources and conduits of information about the variety of books in print and of their interest to particular groups.

This development was stunted because of the low purchasing power of many people, lack of foreign exchange (except in the CFA franc states), high cost of importing (either books or the raw materials, print machinery and spare parts to manufacture books) and, consequentially, shortage and lack of variety of locally-published books.

In addition, in some countries the state intervened in school book publishing and supply (for example in Tanzania), so that the bread and butter of the bookselling business disappeared.

Booksellers then either diversified their stock so that they became bookseller-stationers or worse - books came after groceries, footballs, hats, etc., or the booksellers ceased trading in books or closed down.

The publishing-distribution chain in Africa

Book distribution is part of a chain of activities in the book sector which depend on each other and support each other. The chain starts with an idea for a book which may come from an author or from potential readers who make known their needs and it ends with the published books being bought. The lack of a good book distribution infrastructure in Africa is linked to the lack of a wide variety of books from a good number of publishers and the lack of a market for the books.

At least until South Africa became a democracy, Nigeria probably had the most active publishing industry in Africa with a high level of publishing professionalism. In such a huge country this may not be surprising: there is a large market, state administrations with urban headquarters, and a variety of arrangements for publishing and distributing books. But publishers suffer from a scarcity of investment funds, with high costs of borrowing, which affects their ability to keep books in print and to start new publishing projects. Relatively few technical books are published locally because of the risks when compared with, for example, publishing school textbooks.

In such a vast country, the state of book distribution varies from place to place, with cities and large towns obviously having a greater variety of books available for sale than small towns and rural areas. Small traders carry books to the latter; they do not take orders and the books they carry are those that they can get hold of which they think will sell. Would-be readers are frustrated unless they or their friends visit a city. Mail order is not a possibility because the domestic postal service is not trusted.

In the urban areas, where there are booksellers, an indeterminate number of potential readers cannot afford to buy books, especially those that have been imported. Book piracy is a consequence of this. Booksellers' sales have declined, their turnover has been reduced as has their ability to stay in business. Some institutions in the country buy direct from publishers or from overseas suppliers rather than from booksellers, which further damages them. Booksellers buy books from publishers in small quantities for a fast turn-round which affects publishers' ability to build up investment funds for the next publishing project or for a large reprint with its possibility of reducing unit book costs.

This is not to say that technical books are totally unavailable from Nigerian booksellers, but it is clear that only specialised outlets which know their book-buying customers well can risk stocking some of them. Rural dwellers have no chance of buying them without making a big effort in time and money.

In contrast, Senegal has a less developed publishing and bookselling industry than Nigeria, with about a dozen professional publishers and a small network of booksellers, mostly in Dakar and the larger towns in the regions. The most important publishing opportunities in Senegal are in the field of primary school textbooks - where there is competition both within the country, with publishers from other developing states, and from the North. Senegal being a lot smaller than Nigeria, there is only room for one textbook, and primary school book production is not therefore the mainstay of local publishers. The publisher which used to supply all primary and secondary school textbooks for the Ministry of National Education is an exception and is still probably dependent upon educational publishing for its turnover. Few technical books are published; as with books for higher education, they are imported.

The network of booksellers has been decreasing and it is difficult to make a living just by selling books without the back-up of other products to sell. Thus there are bookseller-stationers, bookseller-grocers, kiosks and street sellers, especially of secondhand books. Booksellers tend to order titles in small quantities because they cannot risk being left with unsold stock which ties up their capital. They order little and often. Most school textbooks are distributed through the Ministry of National Education, but booksellers still sell a variety of textbooks, some official and approved and some not. Before the devaluation of the CFA franc, booksellers ordered more from abroad. These books have now doubled in price, making them unaffordable, with a consequent opportunity opened for local publishers to fill a gap.

Apart from the professional publishers, various sorts of publications are being produced and distributed by literacy and post-literacy organisations and a delegated literacy ministry. Some organisations promote literacy for its own sake, while others use the attainment of literacy as the means through which development can spread in rural areas. The publications concern rural development, agriculture, health and nutrition, and rural democracy, amongst others. There is a good variety of different titles and a good supply of cheap and affordable books. Some are sold through booksellers, but most people buy them when they take their literacy courses, while small traders carry them up-country to sell and buy more copies from the publishers with the proceeds.

Book aid schemes

A whole literature exists on book aid schemes. Briefly, book aid comes in two forms, one using the local book sector and the other not to any great extent. The British Government's Educational Low Prices Books Scheme (sadly scheduled to end, at least in its present form, in April 1997) and the French Government's Programme Plus both use the local bookselling industry to make available standard tertiary textbooks and others at subsidised rates. Not all students could afford to buy them, but the two schemes nonetheless promote bookselling and commercial life within ACP countries and beyond. To some extent they safeguard the continuation of fore where up-to-date books can be seen.

CTA's books aid scheme does not use the local book sector in terms of book distribution, although cooperation in co-publishing is beginning. The FAO, in distributing publications to ACP and other developing countries, is similar. Books supplied under multilateral and bilateral agencies' projects have tended to sidestep the local book sector, although this has been changing.

As with food aid, the question to be answered is whether continuing the aid prolongs the condition ? Or does the analogy with food aid break down in certain circumstances because books are different ?

Improving book distribution in Africa

Various efforts are being made to improve book markets for African publishers. For example, the African Books Collective, based in Oxford, UK, markets and sells both anglophone and francophone African publishers' selected books in the North and also to other African countries. It is often easier for publishers in the North to sell their books in Africa than it is for African publishers to sell their books across frontiers and in the continent.

Publishers Associations have been formed in about a dozen countries with APNET, the African Publishers' Network, celebrating its fourth year as a continental association. CTA supported APNET in the production of the first catalogue of agricultural books published by African publishers. Very recently, an Africa-wide booksellers association has been created.

CTA and future book distribution

Since CTA started distributing books on agriculture and rural development, publishing and bookselling activities in many ACP countries have multiplied and the context has changed somewhat. As noted at CTA's Montpellier conference in 1995, there is now much information and many documents going from North to South, suited to the planners, research workers and extension agents who process the information and pass it down to the small-scale farmers. Rather, a two-way information route would be more efficient, between farmers who have information to offer as well as information needs and information providers. The growth in requests to CTA for publications from co-operatives and farmer associations and from non-academic libraries and documentation units is evidence that the publications distribution service is fulfilling a need.

 

 

The Courier’s mailbag

Earthen architecture

I read your article on 'Earthen Architecture', published by the CTA Bulletin in the September-October 1996 issue of The Courier (n° 159) with a great deal of interest.

The article presents such traditional products as rammed earth and adobe which have been used by man since time immemorial as witnessed by constructions and monuments to be found in the countries cited by the authors of the article, as well as industrial products such as the compressed earth block (CEB), which have provoked much interest in many parts of the world.

The authors also demonstrate that the use of the compressed earth block has a distinct advantage in that it valorises local raw materials, encourages the setting up of local enterprises and creates employment.

In this regard, I would particularly wish to inform you that the Centre for the Development of Industry (CDI) has, for the last ten years, been working on the industrial development of the CEB sector through support to ACP promoters at various levels:

- diagnostic studies of projects and setting-up of production units;

- search for EU technical partners who have economically advantageous technologies and are ready to transfer their know-how;

- training of enterprise personnel in CEB production and in the utilisation of this product;

- support in the manufacturing of brick presses such as is currently the case in Nigeria.

Some 100 small and mediumsized enterprises and non-governmental organisations in ACP countries involved in the CEB sector have benefited from direct CDI assistance. This assistance has, notably, led to the improved technical and economic performance of these enterprises.

Beyond support to projects, the CDI in collaboration with CRATerre actively participates in the industrial promotion of this technology. The Centre recently disseminated 2000 copies of a technical guide entitled 'CEB: Production Equipment' throughout the ACP countries. An exhibition on the compressed earth block and its application took place during the Industrial Mining Forum held in Lusaka, Zambia, in December 1994. Similar exhibitions were held during the Matconstruct Forum (Libreville, Gabon, October 1995) and at the Industrial Partnership event (Bordeaux, France, February 1995).

The standardisation of the compressed earth block is a prerequisite for the development of this sector. The Centre therefore organised a workshop on this topic in Yaounde in 1996 as a follow-up to the Matconstruct Forum. This seminar brought together some 40 ACP and EU participants to discuss the 'CEB: Standardisation' guide currently being prepared by CRATerre for publication in December 1996.

The main objective of the guide is to encourage ACP promoters to manufacture products in conformity with accepted norms and thus facilitate CEB integration in the industrial construction market.

Efforts made by the CDI, in collaboration with CRATerre, to develop the CEB sector deserve to be better known. We would therefore look forward to an opportunity to present the Centre's activities in this sector in a future issue of me Courier.

Surendra Sharma, Director, Centre for the Development of Industry,

Brussels, Belgium.

 

Map insets

Thank-you for your informative magazine. I wish you all the best in your endeavours to improve me Courier further. May I suggest that in the Country Report profiles, you include an inset map of the region highlighting the country in question for those readers who may not be familiar with the area.

Andrew Frederick Meya, Kampala, Uganda.

A number of readers have raised this point with us since we have rearranged the cover pages and transferred the ACP and Europe 'regional' maps to the inside back cover. In future, we will endeavour to ensure that there is a cross-reference to this page in the Country Report profile.

 

 

Bibliography

Publications received

La politique etrangere du Cameroun (Cameroon's foreign policy)

By Narcisse Mouelle Kombi. Pub. L'Harmattan, Collection «Points de vue» (5-7, rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique, F-75005 Paris). 1996. 238 pp. ISBN 2-73843701-X.

Cameroon belongs to the zone formerly called the 'Third World' which is nowadays labelled the 'South'. This region of great diversity currently faces major socio-economic and political conflict, and receives 'multiform' and 'tied' aid from the developed countries.

This does not, however, prevent it from having a degree of freedom of action in diplomatic terms.

The author, who is a specialist in international law, believes that as a player on the world scene, Cameroon puts its foreign-policy skills to good advantage and has acquired a certain respect in international relations and in global institutions.

He argues that Yaounde is attempting to implement a realistic and pragmatic foreign policy, reflecting its own sovereign status and the imperatives of development.

At the same time, the country is endeavouring to implement the changes forced upon it by modern circumstances.

Le developpement institutionnel - Les organisations a l'epreuve de la specificite et de la concurrence (Institutional development - Organisations based on specificity and competition)

By Arturo Israel. Translated from the English by Alain Claisse. Pub. L'Harmattan (5-7, me de l'Ecole Polytechnique, F-75005 Paris). 1996. 235 pp. 140 FF. ISBN 2-73844322-2.

A graduate of the University of Chile and the London School of Economics, the author has devoted most of his career (particularly within the World Bank) to examining the problems of economic and social development.

He has been one of the pioneers of institutional development, a field which is nowadays seen as essential to all development strategies.

He argues that institutional development requires not bureaucratisation but the promotion and recognition of two principles in both public and private organisations. These are competition and specificity.

The former induces those involved to improve the quality of their work, whilst forcing them to listen to the 'consumer'. The latter involves qualifications, specialisation and a precise definition of objectives, tasks, resources and results.

After a critical review of assessment reports produced over a 15-year period by the World Bank in the field of institutional development, Arturo Israel tells us why such development is one of the keys to success in development projects. He demonstrates that a good project being implemented in an unfavourable institutional environment has little chance of achieving positive long-term effects.

La justice internationale face au drame rwandais (International justice confronted by the Rwandan crisis)

Under the direction of Jean-Françoise Dupaquier, with William Bourdon, Pierre-Serge Heger, Frederic Mutagwera, Fran,cois-Xavier Nsanzuwera, Rakiya Omaar, William A. Schabas and Anne-Marie Swartenbroekx. Pub. Karthala (22-24, boulevard Arago, F-75013, Paris). 1996. 248 pp. FF 130. BF. 715. ISBN 2-86537-662-1.

It is two years since the genocide and political massacres which resulted in the death of a million people in Rwanda. In this work, the authors describe and analyse the progress made in various legal proceedings in Rwanda itself, in the international arena and in the jurisdictions of Belgium, France, Canada and Switzerland.

Some countries have been slow and apparently reluctant to fulfil their international obligations and this has resulted in disappointment and impatience on the part of the victims' families, jurists and human rights activists.

Given the example of the Nuremberg trials, the authors suggest there are good grounds for concluding that international human rights have become less important over the last 50 years. This work allows one to reach a considered opinion. Modern legal instruments provide for the punishment of those responsible for the appalling tragedy in Rwanda. These instruments could be seen as a significant advance in the recognition of human rights by the international community. But what is missing at the moment is the political will (and public pressure) to implement them.

Methodologies d'analyse de la mortalite des enfants - Applications au Cameroun (Analytical methodologies in child mortality as applied to Cameroon)

By Amadou Noumbissi. Pub. Braylant-Academia (25, Grand Rue, B-134B Louvainla-Neuve) and L'Harmattan (5-7, rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique, F-75005 Paris). 1996. 305 pp. ISBN 2-87209389-3 (Academia-Braylant) and ISBN 2-7384-3722-2 (L'Harmattan).

Child mortality, always very high in sub-Saharan Africa, varies according to social class, habitat and region. The identification of the social, economic and cultural factors which influence the survival of children depends on the quality of data, and on the relevance of the indicators and statistical models used.

With the aid of specific examples, this work attempts to demonstrate the origin of a number of sources of bias in so-called classical approaches and the distortion of the truth which a poor choice or detrimental manipulation of statistical models can give rise to.

A teacher and researcher at the Demographic Institute of the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), the author proposes methods to take account of the interdependence and synergy which exist between the factors which affect the risk of mortality. He applies these methods to the data gained in two national surveys which were carried out in Cameroon in 1978 and 1991.

Revue Region et Developpement (Region and Development Journal)

Pub. L'Harmattan (5-7, rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique, F75005 Paris). 1995. 238 pp. ISBN 2-7384-4125-4

This half-yearly journal, first launched in 1995, deals with the various socio-economic aspects of regional development. The second issue contains articles which may be of interest to our readers, including: 'Regionalisation, globalisation and polarisation of the world economy: is there room for developing countries?', and 'Housing models in developing countries'.

Structural adjustment and ethnicity in Nigeria

By Eghosa E. Osaghae. Pub. The Nordic Africa Institute (P.O. Box 1703, S-751 47 Uppsala, Sweden). 1995. 66 pp. ISBN 91-7106373-0.

The author is a lecturer who heads the politics department at the University of Transkei in South Africa. A significant conclusion from his study, undertaken at the Nordic Africa Institute, is that from the ethnic standpoint, the implementation of structural adjustment (with its corollary of reduced state involvement in public life), has had positive effects in Nigeria. This contrasts with the usual perception of the structural adjustment process.

The migration experience in Africa

Collection prepared under the direction of Jonathan Baker and Tade Akin Aina. Pub. The Nordic Africa Institute (P.O. Box 1703, S-751 47 Uppsala, Sweden). 1995. 353 pp. ISBN-91-7106366-8.

This volume aims to take stock of migration in Africa. The causes of the phenomenon are varied and complex, and the authors have chosen an approach which illustrates the diversity of the theories, and methodological and analytical trends involved.

The book offers an empirical assessment of migration in contemporary Africa, focusing particularly on the problem of women migrants. Migration is an important element in the wider development equation and this work fills a gap in the literature.

Challenges to the Nation-State in Africa

Collection prepared under the direction of Adebayo O. Olukoshi and Liisa Laakso. Pub. The Nordic Africa Institute (P.O. Box 1703, S-751 47 Uppsala, Sweden) in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies, University of Helsinki. 1996. 213 pp. ISBN 91-7106381-1.

The challenge confronting the nation state in contemporary Africa are of great interest to specialists attempting to understand how deconstruction and recomposition of the political identity of populations affects the post-colonial unitarian project. The studies offered in this volume show that this process has often taken ethno-regionalist, religious or separatist forms - reinforced by economic crisis and the negative effects of structural adjustment, not to mention the legacy of years of political authoritarianism and exclusion dating from the colonial period.

The authors believe that in order to promote national unity and a sense of citizenship in Africa, priority should be given, inter alia, to more representative forms of government, power-sharing and decentralisation, multi-party elections, the reinvention of the post-colonial social contract and cultural autonomy for minority groups.

Agenda for Africa's economic renewal

Collection prepared under the direction of Benno Ndulu and Nicolas van de Walle. Pub. Overseas Department Council (1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1012, Washington, DC 20009, USA). 1996. 246 pp. ISBN 1-56000900-4.

For 20 years, sub-Saharan Africa has been experiencing a severe economic crisis. Growth has been stagnant and the result has been reduced living standards for much of the population, and ever-increasing pressure on the continent's political structures. Structural adjustment, advocated by international organisations in an attempt to restore growth in Africa, has not had the anticipated results and has given rise to a number of disputes.

In this book, 10 African, US and European experts attempt to look beyond the immediate horizon and identify strategies which could be implemented to give renewed vigour to the African economy. They analyse the choices which should be made in key areas such as agriculture, trade and industry, the role of the state and the social sectors.

 

 

News round - up

In brief

World congress against the sexual exploitation of children

The first international congress dealing with the problem of the sexual exploitation of children for profit was held in Stockholm from 27 to 31 August. The initiative for the meeting came from ECPAT (End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism), working in collaboration with the Swedish government, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and a group of NGOs supporting the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The congress was attended by government representatives from most of the UN countries, participants from various international and regional organisations (including the UN Centre for Human Rights, the International Labour Organisation, the World Health Organisation, UNESCO, UNHCR and Interpol), NGOs, health professionals and media representatives from across the globe.

The aim of the congress was to draw the international community's attention to the issue of the sexual exploitation of children and to promote the development of national plans to tackle all forms of abuse in this area. It focused particularly on three aspects: child prostitution, the 'trade' in children for sexual purposes, and child pornography.

Although there are a number of legal instruments which refer to these problems, the key one for the purposes of the Stockholm meeting was the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In Article 34 of this multilateral treaty, which has been ratified by 186 countries, the signatory states commit themselves to protect children against all forms of exploitation and violence of a sexual nature. For the purposes of the Convention, a child is defined as any human being less than 18 years old, except where the age of majority is lower than 18 in the relevant local legislation (Article 1).

The committee that was responsible for planning the Congress drew up documents on a number of themes including: the revision and application of laws; psycho-social prevention; tourism and child prostitution; those who engage in abuse; hygiene and health; the role of the media; child pornography; education; and human values. These subjects were all examined by working groups during the two-day session.

The congress was addressed by Anita Gradin, Member of the European Commission with responsibility for internal and judicial affairs, and matters relating to immigration. She took the opportunity to underline the point that the traffic in women and children was international. Organised crime, she said, lay at the heart of the 'trade' and it was closely linked to a whole range of other criminal activities. She cited, in this context, kidnapping, forging of documents, 'false' marriages and adoptions, clandestine immigration, violence and forced labour. these, in turn were associated with the drug trade, extortion and murder. The conclusion was that a global action plan and more international cooperation were needed. Ms Gradin acknowledged that existing arrangements had been successful in exposing the existence of paedophile networks but she was convinced that international cooperation should be strengthened further, and that organisations such as Interpol and Europol would be called upon to play a bigger part in the future. The European Commissioner went on to declare that a commitment to the protection of children ought to be a priority. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - which is now eight years old - should not merely tee 'adopted' by all countries. It should, rather, be applied in full and integrated into the legislation of every nation. There was no point, she suggested, in enacting new laws, if the existing ones were not being implemented and the financial resources had not been provided. Ms Gradin reaffirmed the European Commission's commitment to the fight against the exploitation of children. This would be reflected in communications to be drawn up by the Commission for presentation to the Council of Ministers and European Parliament, on the following subjects: - the treatment of women (on the basis of the recommendations made by the Vienna Conference on this subject, which was held in June 1996); - sex tourism, notably in certain countries in Asia and Latin America; - actions designed to eliminate paedophile rings and child pornography networks which make use of new information technologies such as the Internet. During the congress, the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that his country would be launching an initiative at the EC's Justice and Internal Affairs Council meeting scheduled for 26 and 27 September. They would be proposing common action designed to strengthen police and judicial cooperation in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children for profit. He believed that it should be possible to take measures both within the framework of the Europol Convention, and by means of new and specific cooperation instruments. The culmination of the Stockholm congress was the adoption of a declaration and an action plan. These foresee strengthened cooperation and coordination among local and national authorities, and a series of measures to protect children, prevent abuse and provide rehabilitation.

 

1997: European year against racism

In a resolution adopted on 23 July, the Council of Ministers formally designated 1997 as the European year against racism. The aims, set out in the resolution, include: - highlighting the threat posed by racism, xenophobia and antisemitism, in terms of both respect for fundamental rights, and in ensuring the economic and social cohesion of the European Community; - encouraging reflection and discussion of the measures needed to tackle racism, xenophobia and antisemitism in Europe; - promoting a sharing of experiences, best practice, and effective strategies drawn up at the local, national and European levels; - disseminating information on the aforementioned best practice and strategies amongst those most closely involved in the fight against racism, xenophobia and antisemitism, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of their actions in this area; - highlighting the advantages of integration policies implemented at the national level, in particular in the fields of employment, education, training and housing; - taking account, wherever possible, of the experiences of victims of racism, xenophobia and antisemitism, and promoting the participation of these people in society. ECU 6 million will be spent on a series of activities designed to help achieve these objectives during the 'year against racism'. A logo and slogan will be devised, and seminars and conferences will be staged with the aim of strengthening international cooperation (themes will include the role of education in eliminating racism, ways of establishing dialogue, and establishing mutual respect between different communities living in towns and cities). Documents and audiovisual material will be distributed, and an effort will be made to get the message across in the media. There will also be action to encourage information exchanges on best practice, and to increase public awareness of the issue. Prizes will be awarded to media organisations which safeguard the quality of the information they put out and which seek to promote tolerance. A specific effort will be made to counter the racist propaganda now appearing on the Internet.

WTO banana challenge

The European Union has set out its legal defence of duty-free preferences for African and Caribbean banana producing countries that are members of the Fourth Lomé Convention. This took place in September at an initial hearing of a World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel - convened at the request of a number of competing banana producer nations. African and Caribbean states were permitted to voice their opinion as third part)" in the case, despite an objection from the United States. The EU's banana market arrangements - notably Protocol 5 of the Lomé Convention, which sanctions duty-free access - have twice before come under attack in the Geneva body. Two earlier hearings in the WTO's forerunner, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), concerned the EU's previous state-to-state regime, and the new single market arrangements which have been in operation since July 1993. The present panel was set up at the request of four Latin American banana producer nations - Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala - together with the United States which is arguing that its domestic banana companies are losing out. The complainants jointly claim that the tariff quota for Latin American nations, the core of regulation 404/93 establishing the EU regime, discriminates against them. They also challenge the licensing arrangements of the so-called 'framework agreement' made under the GATT framework in 1994 with four Latin American nations (Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Venezuela). In return for a bigger share of the EU market, these four agreed to refrain from further challenges in the WTO against the EU's banana arrangements.

The panel is expected to give its verdict in March 1997. The hearings are taking place behind closed doors, but it is understood that EU and ACP nations can count on the support of Japan - which currently imposes its own quotas on imports of other items and does not want to be challenged for these - and that of India which wants to show solidarity with the ACP countries.

Speaking in Geneva, Coté d'lvoire's Commodities Minister, Alain Gauze, stressed the heavy dependence of many African and Caribbean states on banana growing. 90% of Dominica's commodity exports are bananas and the crop accounts for 70% of its export receipts and 25% of its Gross Domestic Product.

One ACP representative in Brussels described the task ahead es 'convincing them (the panel) that the banana regime and regulation 404/93 are required to fulfil the obligations of the EU under the Lomé Convention and the subsequent waiver.'

The waiver to which he referred was accorded by GATT to the Lomé Convention's various non-reciprocal trade preferences in 1994, but it is up for renewal at the end of the year.

The EU has already put in a request for its extension until February 29, 2000, coinciding with the expiry date of Lomé IV.

The WTO was expected to rule on the renewal of the waiver in mid-October ahead of the panel's decision. If the renewal of the waiver were to be disallowed, the EU and ACP 'defendants' at the panel could find themselves on shaky legal ground.

In the meantime, the EU has fixed its 1996 tariff quota, allowing a maximum of 2.553 million tonnes of Latin American bananas to be imported into the Union with a tariff of ECU 75 per tonne.

A further quota of 72 440 tonnes has been allocated to this region following tropical storms Iris, Luis et Marilyn. The damage caused by these storms led to the suspension of supplies of bananas from several Caribbean islands.

EU banana production is expected to reach 750 000 tonnes in 1996, while preferential imports from the African and Caribbean members of the ACP group have been fixed at 680 000 tonnes. According to latest predictions, the total consumption of this fruit in the European Union in 1996 will be 4030440 tonnes.

D.P.

 

Trade and labour standards

Ahead of the first ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to be held in December in Singapore, the European Commission has published a discussion paper (COM (96) 402 final) on whether labour standards should be linked to trade - which could mean sanctions for nations which do not comply with globally recognised labour clauses. What is at stake is to draw up globally recognised criteria and implement them without accusations of protectionism from some developing nations.

At an informal meeting of EU trade ministers in Dublin on September 18, EC Trade Commissioner, Sir Leon Brittan, said that, in supporting an international code, the European Union had no intention of damaging the competitive advantage of developing nations.

Many Asian countries, who view the move of the EU and of other industrialised nations as veiled protectionism, do not even want the subject broached at the Singapore meeting. However, mention was made of the link between trade and internationally recognised labour standards in the conclusions of the Uruguay Round of GATT in Marrakesh in 1994, which requested that the WTO do more work on this issue.

The recent Commission paper advances the reasons for an international code: 'Workers in certain sectors in particular perceive that their jobs are under threat from imports from countries which allow unfair or unacceptable working practices.

These concerns cannot be ignored and should be addressed by the world trading system. Otherwise the perception will be - wrongly - that trade liberalisation is the problem and not the solution to the challenge to all societies to create a higher standard of living for all their citizens.'

It further makes the point that such a policy is in line with others such as the promotion of democracy, respect for human rights and adherence to the rule of law. The EU has always upheld the view that there is a positive correlation between social progress, economic growth and trade liberalisation. According to the paper: 'There is no question of imposing on developing countries the higher wage levels and better working conditions which pertain in the industrialised world. Nor is this an action designed to re-erect new barriers to trade under cover of a social agenda.'

The EU and international bodies are already looking at the kind of global criteria that might be adopted. A report of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), published in 1994, as well as the conclusions of the 1995 World Social Summit in Copenhagen, both suggest that freedom of association, collective bargaining, prohibition of forced labour and the elimination of child labour are top of the list.

A report entitled: 'Trade, Employment and Labour Standards - a study of core workers' rights and international trade', produced this year by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), looks at the options in depth.

Jeff Atkinson, trade policy advisor for the NGO, Oxfam UK, suggests that initial negotiations should be limited to matters covered in ILO Conventions 87 and 98. The former deals with freedom of association and protection of the right to organise, while the latter is on the right to organise and collective bargaining. He argues that other Conventions, covering such matters as the right to equal renumeration for men and women workers, freedom from discrimination and the abolition of forced labour, depend on the first two.

A notable omission from Jeff Atkinson's list is ILO Convention 138 on child labour. He does not feel that this Convention adequately addresses the issue. While international concern has focused on the most abusive forms of child labour such as slavery and prostitution, he points out not all child labour is so grossly abusive. Some forms can bring in money for food and shelter, which would otherwise not be available.

He argues that if conditions are right, employment (say on a family farm or business) can contribute positively to a child's development, by providing an informal learning environment in which social and physical skills can develop.

'To tackle the symptoms, for example by banning child labour, without addressing the underlying cause is likely to be counterproductive', says Mr Atkinson. He argues that it might induce children to seek illegal work in order to survive, or alternatively that they may end up becoming destitute.

Some bodies are already trying to enforce improved standards. Although the ILO cannot implement sanctions, if an ILO member fails to comply with Conventions, a dialogue can be instituted with the defaulting country. It is also running an extensive public campaign against child labour and is assisting the development of social labelling for goods produced which fully respect ILO Conventions.

Under its new Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), the EU can remove some trade preferences if goods imported from non-Lomé developing nations are found to have been made with forced or slave labour. And from January 1, 1998, extra preferences can be given to countries which so request and comply with Conventions 87, 98 and 138. But if the enforcement of a socalled 'Social Clause' does reach the WTO level, some voices are already calling for joint monitoring involving the WTO and that long-time champion of human rights, the ILO.

 

 

The 1996 UNCTAD Report

A slow world growth rate is revealed in this year's annual report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), published in September. The global economy expanded by only 2.4% in 1995 compared with a 2.8% increase in 1994. And production is below what it could be, says the report. On the whole, developing nations achieved higher growth rates than their industrialised counterparts in 1995.

In 1996, world growth is expected to slow further although there will still be 'star performers' in some regions, and particularly slow movers in others. Asia is the continent currently doing best and China has the fastest expanding economy - despite this having slackened in recent years.

In 1995, Africa recorded higher growth than Latin America, according to the Rubens Ricupero, UNCTAD Secretary General. It also managed the first real increase in average per capita income for a long time. This was partly due to commodity prices picking up - they rose 10% on average.

But not such good news for the continent was a drop in private capital flows, notably direct investment. And the growth rate was highly variable across Africa. In some countries it was above 5% but in others, the economic situation was hit badly by political and armed conflicts.

Meanwhile, drought led to lower production in the Sahel. The prospects for 1996 are uncertain according to the report. It noted that even countries whose economies have expanded during 1995 and 1996 will need another ten concurrent years of good economic results to get back to the per capita income they enjoyed 20 years ago.

The report highlights the tremendous difficulties facing many of the heavily-indebted, least developed nations. This is despite the fact that a number of donors have recently written off substantial amounts of some countries' public debts while the Paris Club has rescheduled repayments from other nations. Even if the new arrangements are followed through, UNCTAD is predicting that debt will remain a major burden for many countries.

One worrying factor is the weight of their multilateral debt and bilateral obligations to creditors other than the Paris Club. Multilateral institutions have implemented a number of measures, but these are of very limited scope. The UNCTAD Secretary General is encouraging multilateral creditors in particular, to put more muscle behind their debt relief plans.

The authors of the report are also recommending the establishment of an agency, within UNCTAD itself, to help developing nations achieve trade diversification and industrialisation strategies for economic growth.

 

Seminar on NGOs and government relations in humanitarian emergencies

The British Council is organising an international seminar on the above subject in Oxford, UK, from 12-17 December 1996. The main themes to be covered at the meeting will include:

- the actors in humanitarian assistance;

- funder and donor policy;

- government sovereignty;

- rights and obligations of intervention;

- the role of the beneficiary;

- conflicts of interest and areas of cooperation between donor NGOs and host governments, and;

- accountability and evaluation.

Further information can be obtained from the Marketing Manager, International Seminars, The British Council, 1 Beaumont Place, GB-Oxford, OX1 2PJ.

Tel. (44) 1B65 316 636, Fax. (44) 1865 57368.

E-mail: International. Seminar@britcoun.org

 

 

The institutions at work

COMMON FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY

Within the framework of its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the European Union has recently issued a number of statements, details of which are set out below:

Burundi: condemnation of the massacre on 19 July

Declaration of 23 July 1996

The European Union expresses grave concern at the deteriorating situation in Burundi especially at the killing of civilians and other gross violations of human rights which continue to be perpetrated in that country. It vehemently condemns the massacre of civilians in the Bugendana camp for displaced persons on 19 July last and deplores the expulsions of Rwandan refugees against their will. This massacre, following as it does those at Gishubi, Kivyuka, Teza, Mutoyi, Songa and Kamenge, represents a new stage in the vortex of violence, action and reaction putting Burundi at risk of being drawn ever further into a full civil war, the effects of which would be catastrophic for the people of Burundi.

The EU calls on all Burundians to turn away from violence and move singlemindedly along the road to a peaceful and negotiated solution of their problems. It would point to the undertakings given on 25 June 1996 at Arusha during the Summit of Heads of State of the region in favour of dialogue open to all sectors of Burundi's population together with provision of the security measures needed to create the conditions for such dialogue. It would also point out that these undertakings were given formal backing by the Heads of State and Government of the entire continent of Africa when they met from 8 to 10 July at Yaounde under the aegis of the Organisation for African Unity.

The EU believes that only compliance with the undertakings given at Arusha and their swift implementation can restore a climate of confidence and prevent Burundi becoming embroiled in a generalised conflict. As it has already stressed in the Council's statement of 15 and 16 July, the EU reiterates that it is prepared to assist in pursuit of the Arusha objectives in order to restore peace and security in Burundi and it supports the efforts of former President Nyerere and the countries of the region to achieve this.

Burundi: appeal for reconciliation following the coup d'Etat

Declaration of 26 July 1996

The European Union shares the deep concern of the Secretary General of the United Nations, and others, about yesterday's military coup in Burundi.

The EU urges all sides to avoid recourse to violence and to take all steps to resolve the crisis by exclusively peaceful means.

The EU believes that the main immediate priority is the humanitarian situation. There must be no further loss of life.

An immediate beginning of a national debate is essential, leading to a real process of national reconciliation, founded on democracy and security for all sections of society.

In this regard, the EU commends the efforts of former President Nyerere and regional leaders to broker an all-inclusive, negotiated settlement in Burundi, in peaceful conditions, and urges them to examine the possibility of continuing their efforts in this respect.

The EU reiterates its firm commitment to the re-establishment of peace in Burundi. The Union is following developments in the country closely, in active consultation with partners in the UN, with the OAU and others, towards the goal of restoring peace and security in Burundi. The EU Special Envoy, Mr Ajello, who is in the region, is actively assisting in this process.

Niger: doubts about the first round election results

Declaration of 1 August 1996

The European Union expresses deep concern about the way in which the first round of the presidential elections in Niger on 7-8 July was conducted. In particular, it deplores the decision taken by the Niger authorities to dissolve the independent national electoral commission during the voting process and to replace it with an alternative body. It is the view of the EU that this decision, by the Niger authorities, casts serious doubts on the credibility of the election results. It requests the Niger authorities to explain this decision and why observers found it impossible to assist in gathering and collating the election results.

The EU urges the Niger authorities, in dealing with the critical situation which has resulted from their decision, to respect fully the fundamental freedoms of movement, expression and association of the Niger people. It attaches great importance to the restoration of all civil rights.

The EU will examine, in the light of recent developments, its policies of economic and development cooperation with the Niger authorities.

The EU calls for the full restoration of democratic civilian government in Niger through transparent processes. Free and fair elections will be crucial in this respect. The EU will continue to follow the situation in Niger closely and in particular the preparation, holding and transparency of the forthcoming legislative elections on 22 September. Iceland, the Central European countries associated with the EU and the associated countries Cyprus and Malta align themselves with this declaration.

Swaziland: revision of the Constitution

Declaration of 6 August 1996

The European Union welcomes the announcement by King Mswati III of the names of the new Prime Minister of Swaziland and of the Constitutional Review Commission and is pleased that its membership represents all shades of political opinion in Swaziland.

The EU wishes to encourage all members of the Constitutional Review Commission to participate fully in its work and expresses confidence that their endeavours will bring about the adoption of a draft democratic constitution acceptable to the people of Swaziland as a whole. It hopes that the Commission will pursue its task energetically and is ready to offer appropriate assistance to the Commission if it so wishes.

Burundi: appeal for talks and reconciliation

Declaration of 19 August 1996

Recalling its declarations of 25 June and 5, 15, 23 and 26 July 1996, the European Union reiterates its deep concern about the situation in Burundi. It urges all sides to refrain from violence and to commit themselves to, and work actively towards, a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the crisis.

The EU wishes to express its support for the regional leaders, the Organisation of African Unity and the former President of Tanzania, Mr Julius Nyerere, in the efforts which they have been making to assist Burundi to overcome peacefully the grave crisis which it is experiencing, and encourages them to continue their efforts to facilitate the search for a political solution.

The EU considers it essential for a dialogue to be organised without delay, bringing together all of Burundi's political forces without exception, including representatives of civil society, in order to negotiate a democratic, institutional consensus ensuring security for all.

The EU is convinced that national reconciliation and civil peace in Burundi can be restored on a lasting basis only through the participation of all sections of society in the principal institutions and bodies of the State.

The EU urges all sides in Burundi to call an immediate halt to the violence and respect the safety of all Burundians.

It reaffirms its willingness to support Burundi's recovery efforts, once the necessary national reconciliation is embarked upon with all the resolve required.

AID FOR REHABILITATION

Within the framework of the 'European Programme for Reconstruction and Development in South Africa', the Commission has recently decided on financing for the following ten projects:

- ECU 19.2 million for a development programme covering the management of the public service;

- ECU 17.2 million for technical assistance to the Ministry of Education;

- ECU 16 million for a support programme for Parliament;

- ECU 15 million for the electrification of rural schools;

- ECU 9 million to support the reform process in the police services of the Eastern Cape province;

- ECU 8.9 million for a financing and investment development programme for SMEs;

- ECU 5 million for a programme of rural water supply and sanitation projects to be implemented

by the NGO Mvula Trust;

- ECU 4.3 million to support the trade union movement;

- ECU 2.3 million for the 'Soul City 1996' project designed to make full use of the mass media to promote health and development issues;

- ECU 1.9 million to support the 'Truth and National Reconciliation Commission'.

 

EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT FUND

Following, where required, favourable opinions from the EDF Committee, the Commission has decided to provide grants and special loans from the 5th, 6th and 7th EDFs to finance the following operations (grants unless otherwise stated). Major projects and programmes are highlighted.

Economic and social infrastructure

Burkina Faso: ECU 4.125 million for studies relating to certain road infrastructures.

Mauritius: ECU 9 million for an irrigation programme in the northern plains.

Dominica: ECU 1.65 million towards the establishment of refuse treatments systems. Trade promotion/ structural adjustment

Coté d'lvoire: ECU 25.5 million to , support the structural adjustment programme.

Lesotho: ECU 8.6 million for the fourth structural adjustment programme.

 

Agriculture/rural development

Ethiopia-Kenya-Uganda: ECU 20 million for a programme to coordinate national activities aimed at achieving sustainable rural development in the region (notably involving the fight against the Tsetse fly)

 

Education/training

Caribbean region: ECU 5.9 million towards a post-secondary education training programme in the countries of the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States - Antigua & Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines).

 

Environment

Malawi: ECU 4.4 million for a social/ participatory programme in the forestry sector as part of the implementation of a national forestry policy.

 

Institutional support

SADC member states: ECU 1.7 million to support the SADC (Southern African Development Community) secretariat in order to strengthen the SADC-EU regional programme.

UEMOA (West Africa Economic and Monetary Union): ECU 12 million to support the regional integration process in the member states (Benin, Burkina Faso, Coté d'lvoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo)

Zambia: ECU 1.5 million for a support programme for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

 

EUROPEAN INVESTMENT BANK

During the first half of 1996, the Bank has provided the following loans from its own resources or in the form of risk capital:

Africa/Madagascar: ECU 30 million for ASECNA (I'Agence pour la securite de la navigation aerienne en Afrique et a Madagascar) for the renewal and modernisation of air safety equipment. Botswana: ECU 6.6 million to the Botswana Power Corporation to help increase electricity-generating capacity.

Burkina Faso: ECU 6 million to SOFITEX (Societe burkinabe des fibres textiles) for the renewal and extension of its cotton ginneries facility.

Mali: ECU 5.3 million to the Societe Energie du Mali for the financing of the Balingue thermal power station.

Mauritania: ECU 2 million to SNIM (Societe rationale industrielle et miniere) for the setting up and operation of a mechanical workshop.

Mauritania: ECU 1.4 million to the Societe arabe du fer et de l'acier (Arab iron and steel company) for the construction of a foundry.

Mozambique: ECU 500 000 to Grafites de Ancuabe for the exploitation of a graphite mine.

Zambia: ECU 2 million to the Zambia Venture Capital Fund, set up to subscribe for minority equity stakes in SMEs.

Jamaica: ECU 40 million to Telecommunications of Jamaica Ltd for expansion and modernisation of the domestic and international telecommunications network.

British Virgin Islands: ECU 600 000 to the government for the design and feasibility study of the main airport at Beef Island, Tortola.

Tonga: ECU 3.7 million to the Tonga Telecommunications Commission for the development of the country's domestic telecommunications network.

 

HUMANITARIAN AID

ACP countries

Ethiopia: ECU 5 million for the purchase and distribution of vegetable oils and cereals to refugees living in the country.

Kenya: ECU 420 000 for emergency medical assistance in the fight against cholera in the Mandera region.

Somalia: ECU 1.9 million for emergency food aid to the victims of the continuing factional fighting.

Sudan: ECU 2.5 million for the purchase and distribution of maize in a transit camp close to the capital (154 000 people) and in the south of the country (1 million people), and for the distribution of sorghum to Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees in the east (200 000 people).

Chad: ECU 150 000 to help tackle the cholera epidemic.

Haiti: ECU 10 million for a programme to counter malnutrition and improve basic health care, in particular for women and children in isolated locations.

Montserrat: ECU 380 000 to help evacuees in the wake of the recent volcanic eruption.

Non-ACP countries

Colombia: ECU 1 million for people displaced as a result of drug terrorism and the fighting that has been taking peace between government forces and guerillas.

Costa Rica: ECU 400 000 for the victims of Hurricane Cesar.

Guatemala: ECU 220 000 to train teachers in order to improve education among repatriated communities in the department of Alta Verapaz.

Nicaragua: ECU 440 000 to improve conditions for the social and economic reintegration of uprooted populations (people who have been repatriated, displaced or demobilised) in the department of Rio San Juan.

Northern Caucasus: ECU 4.18 million for civilian victims of the war in Chechnya and for refugees in Ossetia and Dagestan.

Iraq: ECU 9 million for food aid, medical provisions, rehabilitation of drinking water systems, sanitary equipment and educational material to assist 3 million people in the north and centre of the country.

Yemen: ECU 150 000 for flood victims.

Cambodia: ECU 290 000 for a programme to construct and distribute artificial limbs to land-mine victims.

Thailand (Burmese refugees): ECU 220 000 for 'Mon' refugees from Burma (Myanmar) who have fled the violence in their country.

Thailand (Burmese refugees): ECU 500 000 for medical aid in favour of 'Karen' refugees from Burma (Myanmar).

FOOD AID

The Commission has recently decided to allocate the following aid: