Policies to Overcome the Negative Effects of Structural Adjustment Programs on African Female-Headed Households
Jean M. Due
The structural adjustment programs (SAPS) initiated by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and supported by donors are stimulating many tropical African economies through an infusion of foreign exchange, increased agricultural prices, devaluation of overvalued currencies, improved marketing policies, liberalization of important sectors of the economies, and increased competition from the private sector. This paper will argue that the 25 percent of the rural households which are female-headed will not benefit from these policies. In addition the consumption-oriented policies within the structural adjustment programs-- reduced expenditures for health (including family planning) and education in particular--have adversely affected female-headed and low- resource households in both urban and rural sectors. Many of these households are forced to bear heavier burdens of food, education, and health costs and are locked into a permanent cycle of poverty. The paper suggests some supplementary policies to assist the most adversely affected families.
There is no doubt that action had to be taken to stop the decline of most economies in tropical Africa in the mid-1980s. With declining foreign
Jean M. Due is Professor of Agricultural Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. She has a Ph.D. from University of Illinois, years of research experience in East and Southern Africa, and is the author of Costs, Returns, and Repayment Experience of Ujamaa Villages in Tanzania, 1973-1976, as well as numerous articles about the economics of East Africa and women farmers in international journals such as Agricultural Economics. Her current research analyzes funding sources for women's income generation and evaluates income-generating projects in different African countries.