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PATTERNS OF BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL ASSISTANCE

OECD: Dr. Marilyn Yakowitz examined a number of financial resource trends related to combatting desertification. Total financial resource inflows to developing countries have increased on average by over US$6 billion each year during the period 1986-1991. This amounts to an average annual increase of about 5%. During this period, total net resource inflows to developing countries increased from US$73.2 to US$132.2 billion. She mentioned a number of economic factors that affect sustainable development including capital exports, external debt, aggregate debt service payments, debt-for-nature swaps and capital flight.

On a regional basis, areas affected by desertification are receiving substantial shares of total ODA flows, although not just to combat desertification. At the sectoral level, precise data for financial flows cannot always be obtained since there are dozens of categories that might be associated with combatting desertification. She added that the utility of data collection and analysis of financial resources flows may be best directed to, or interwoven with planning, development and implementation as a management tool, rather than as an accounting exercise alone.

In the discussion that followed, Egypt pointed out that of the US$7 billion spent on aid in Africa, US$6 billion is spent on expatriate work. Mali mentioned the need to improve the percentage of GNP allocated for ODA. Benin emphasized the need for coordination among donors to avert confusion and duplication and Morocco stressed the need for long-term funding mechanisms to combat desertification.

NGOs: Dr. Vanaja Ramprasad of the Third World Network, on behalf of Asian NGOs, presented a paper aimed at demonstrating the risk of desertification in highly productive land. She pointed out that in 1987-88, Kerala, a state in India, with an average rainfall of 3200mm annually, was drought prone and the amount of rainfall fell drastically. She said that flooding and drought had resulted from deforestation, damming of rivers, salination and irrigation activities in the region. She further explained that the Green Revolution is a key factor in this process. India's choice of Structural Adjustment Programmes and free trade are causing changes in land use patterns in the region. The introduction of hybrid seeds, and export-led mono-crops that provide little or no ground cover have replaced large varieties of indigenous crops suitable for the region. She mentioned that the intellectual property rights and patenting of life forms would accelerate the loss of biodiversity.

Juan Palao Iturregui of the Consejo Andino de Manejo Ecol´┐Żgico spoke on behalf of Latin American NGOs. He summarized how changing economic and land management policies in Peru have diminished the productive potential of the land and the people. He cited how programmes aimed at increasing production of rice and sugar for export failed due to the high production costs and competition from other countries like Malaysia and Thailand. These programmes also led to desertification of the Peruvian coast. He explained how NGOs have joined efforts in the region to find joint approaches and strategies to implement grassroots projects that are aimed at sustainable crop production.

Mamadou Lamine Thiam of FAVDO spoke on behalf of African NGOs. His presentation focused on a case study aimed at combatting desertification in Senegal. He provided the historical background, explaining how colonial and, after independence, national agriculture policies favored cash crops. This led to land degradation, reduction in grazing lands, reduction in water holes, climate change, and drought. To combat desertification, NGOs have worked on a number of projects including reforestation and soil conservation. He spoke about a project of the African Network for Integrated Development that distributed saplings to local people and thus encouraged people to find solutions to land degradation in their communities.

In the discussion that followed, Chad asked about the legal status of the plots reforested by the people and Guinea was curious about how the Senegal project was funded. Thiam responded that they got financial support from a British NGO, Christian Aid, and that the local people own the land and the trees they plant. Mauritania focussed on the need for partnerships between national and international NGOs. Australia brought up the need for community spokespeople in the policy-making process.

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