African Nations Lack Fair Share of Aid and Attention, Reports Say as Population Rises and Economic Growth Falls, Africa Needs Increased Western Assistance and a Redirection of Its Own Resources

By Robert M. Press, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 13, 1993 | Go to article overview

African Nations Lack Fair Share of Aid and Attention, Reports Say as Population Rises and Economic Growth Falls, Africa Needs Increased Western Assistance and a Redirection of Its Own Resources


Robert M. Press, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


LIFE is getting tougher for most Africans, as economic growth slows and population rates continue to rise faster than anywhere else in the world, according to two major reports issued this week - one from Africa, and one from Washington.

And by the end of this century, it is estimated that half the deaths in the world caused by AIDS will occur in Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which met this week in Geneva.

Taken together, the three reports underline the need for increased Western assistance to Africa, as well as some shifting of African priorities, according to both Western and African analysts.

"To a certain extent, Africa is being seen as a basket case," says David Whaley, resident representative here of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). But, he added in an interview here yesterday, "there has been a massive diversion of resources and attention from Africa" to other parts of the world, especially Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Africa is no longer getting its fair share, which will make tackling economic and population problems all the harder, he says. "There should be a marked increase of resources" to Africa from the West, Mr. Whaley says.

In Geneva, WHO officials complain that not enough money is being committed by the developing world to the fight against AIDS, especially in places like Africa.

But it is not just a matter of more money, experts say.

African governments, for example, should redirect some of their own spending away from their armies to AIDS educational programs, the African Development Bank (ADB) said yesterday as it opened its annual meeting in Abidjan, capital of the Ivory Coast.

The ADB also criticized some African governments, including Tanzania's, for trying to meet donor demands for slimmer federal budgets by chopping back educational and health services.

"Key social sector services, especially to the poor, often proved to be the softest targets for cuts," ADB vice president Ferhat Lounes told reporters in Abidjan. Such cutbacks can eventually slow development, he added. A better approach, according to the Bank, is to trim unproductive jobs in state companies, then retrain laid off workers. Gloomy economic forecast

The ADB gave a gloomy economic forecast for Africa for 1993, noting that gross domestic product (GDP) had declined from 2. …

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