Structural Adjustment and African Women Farmers

By Christina H. Gladwin; Center for African Studies University of Florida | Go to book overview

6
Women and Structural Adjustment in Zaire

Brooke Schoepf and Walu Engundu with Diane Russell and Claude Schoepf

The decade of the 1980s opened with widespread recognition that Africa's agrarian crisis is a general one, not limited to areas struck by drought or insect pests ( Schoepf 1981). Numerous studies identified constraints to agricultural development and proposed solutions. One set of policy prescriptions, contained in the Berg Report ( World Bank 1981), has been implemented by major multilateral and bilateral agencies under the leadership of the International Monetary Fund ( IMF). The Berg Report identifies misguided policies of government interference through price-setting, currency controls, and taxation. These policies privileged urban consumers over rural producers and created a crisis of production. Export crops were neglected (or marketed fraudulently), starving public treasuries of foreign exchange. Bureaucracies grew exponentially, creating still more bottlenecks to production and trade. Loans for unproductive industrial and prestige project investments resulted in slowed, even negative, growth. The results include unfavorable trade balances and overvalued national currencies, which discouraged private investment.

The specific measures recommended for economic stabilization were fashioned into a series of structural adjustments to be adapted to the con-

Brooke Schoepf, an economic and medical anthropologist, is currently a fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, Harvard. She has led research teams in Zaire since 1974. From 1986-90 she directed CONNAISSIDA, investigating ways to prevent AIDS.

Walu Engundu, an economic anthropologist, is a research associate at the Centre de Recherches en Sciences Humaines, Kinshasa, Zaire. Her research focuses on women, health, and development.

Diane Russell's doctoral thesis in anthropology at Boston University focuses on the rice trade in northeastern Zaire. She will be a post-doctoral Rockefeller Foundation fellow.

Claude Schoepf, an agricultural economist, conducted research on farming systems in Shaba and Kivu regions of Zaire.

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