The Social Dimensions of Adjustment
in Africa: A Policy Agenda
THE WORLD BANK'S SOCIAL DIMENSIONS
OF ADJUSTMENT UNIT
Although significant differences exist among countries and regional figures must be treated with caution, real per capita gross domestic product (GDP) for the region declined nearly 20 percent between 1980 and 1987. The terms of trade for the thirty-four poorest Sub-Saharan countries, those eligible for the International Development Association (IDA) financing, declined persistently from 1970 to 1981 and still represent only 60 percent of their 1970-1973 levels. The region's debt, which stood at U. S. $6 billion in 1970, reached U. S. $129 billion in 1987, representing 100 percent of its gross national product (GNP) and more than 350 percent of its total exports.
Despite the magnitude of Africa's economic and social crisis, policymakers both within African governments and among the international community have reached a significant measure of agreement about its causes. These included the turbulence of the international economic environment; the slowdown in net private and official financial flows to Africa; mismanagement of domestic economic policies, including distortionary pricing policies; drought and population pressures, which have severely strained the region's resource base and ecosystem; and past gaps and inconsistencies in development assistance from the donor community. 1
All the examinations of Africa's development challenge have persuaded policymakers that a broad range of simultaneous actions and programs is required to overcome the region's problems and to avoid the piecemeal and disjointed approaches of the past.