The Annex highlights the particular conditions of the region, which include its topography, the number of affected land-locked countries, political instability of the region, and the difficult socio-economic factors, including poverty and debt. The Annex is unique in that it is the only regional instrument to articulate concrete commitments for financial contributions. In addition, it provides for the execution of the action programmes before the Convention's entry into force. This is to serve as an indication of the priority to be accorded to Africa under the main Convention.
The action programmes highlight the areas that need attention such as: improvement of the economic environment; natural resource conservation; and existing institutional organizations. The Annex also provides the detailed actions to be undertaken under the national action programmes.
However, it is only within the last three articles of the Annex that a new approach is actually articulated. Explicit reference is made with regard to technical assistance and cooperation to ensure that preference is given to the utilization of the less-costly local experts. This important reference is in response to the sentiment among African Governments that the current disbursement of funds tends to be subsumed by foreign technical assistance and high overhead costs.
On the other hand, emphasis is placed on the need for increased coordination among the key players involved in desertification activities, including donors, national governments, NGOs and local populations. Hence, consultative groups and processes are recommended at three different levels: national, subregional and regional. And finally, the Annex sets out procedures for the follow-up arrangements of the Convention.
One of the most difficult issues to resolve in this Annex, besides the financial resources question, was the role of the Secretariat in the implementation of the Annex. Indeed, this was a contentious issue for all the other annexes as well. The Africans favored an enlarged role for the Secretariat, along the lines of an executing or implementing agency. By contrast, OECD countries did not feel that the Secretariat is equipped to exercise these functions and that its primary role should be to provide administrative support to the Convention and the Conference of the Parties. [Return to start of article]