Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Part I: Structural adjustment and...
 Part II: Impacts of structural...
 Part III: Impacts of structural...
 Part IV: Debate on the economy...
 Part V: Where do we go from...

Title: Structural adjustment and African women farmers /
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Full Citation
External Link: http://www.upf.com
 Material Information
Title: Structural adjustment and African women farmers /
Physical Description: viii, 413 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Gladwin, Christina H
University of Florida -- Center for African Studies
Publisher: University of Florida Press
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1991
Copyright Date: 1991
Subject: Women farmers -- Congresses -- Africa, Sub-Saharan   ( lcsh )
Women agricultural laborers -- Congresses -- Africa, Sub-Saharan   ( lcsh )
Agriculture and state -- Congresses -- Africa, Sub-Saharan   ( lcsh )
Agricultural subsidies -- Congresses -- Africa, Sub-Saharan   ( lcsh )
Agricultrices -- Congrès -- Afrique noire   ( rvm )
Travailleuses agricoles -- Congrès -- Afrique noire   ( rvm )
Politique agricole -- Congrès -- Afrique noire   ( rvm )
Aide de l'État à l'agriculture -- Congrès -- Afrique noire   ( rvm )
Agrarisch beleid   ( gtt )
Vrouwenarbeid   ( gtt )
Agricultrices -- Congrès -- Afrique noire   ( ram )
Travailleuses agricoles -- Congrès -- Afrique noire   ( ram )
Politique agricole -- Congrès -- Afrique noire   ( ram )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Statement of Responsibility: edited by Christina H. Gladwin.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00100322
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University Press of Florida
Holding Location: University Press of Florida
Rights Management: Copyright 1991 by the Board of Regents of the State of Florida. This work is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/. You are free to electronically copy, distribute, and transmit this work if you attribute authorship. However, all printing rights are reserved by the University Press of Florida (http://www.upf.com). Please contact UPF for information about how to obtain copies of the work for print distribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the University Press of Florida. Nothing in this license impairs or restricts the author's moral rights.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 22629062
lccn - 90019534
isbn - 0813010632 (acid-free paper)
alephbibnum - 0015888529

Table of Contents
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Part I: Structural adjustment and transformation
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
    Part II: Impacts of structural adjustment on women farmers
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
    Part III: Impacts of structural transformation and adjustment policies
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
    Part IV: Debate on the economy of affection: is it a useful tool for gender analysis?
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 323
        Page 324
        Page 325
        Page 326
        Page 327
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 331
        Page 332
        Page 333
        Page 334
        Page 335
        Page 336
    Part V: Where do we go from here?
        Page 337
        Page 338
        Page 339
        Page 340
        Page 341
        Page 342
        Page 343
        Page 344
        Page 345
        Page 346
        Page 347
        Page 348
        Page 349
        Page 350
        Page 351
        Page 352
        Page 353
        Page 354
        Page 355
        Page 356
        Page 357
        Page 358
        Page 359
        Page 360
        Page 361
        Page 362
        Page 363
        Page 364
        Page 365
        Page 366
        Page 367
        Page 368
        Page 369
        Page 370
        Page 371
        Page 372
        Page 373
        Page 374
        Page 375
        Page 376
        Page 377
        Page 378
        Page 379
        Page 380
        Page 381
        Page 382
        Page 383
        Page 384
        Page 385
        Page 386
        Page 387
        Page 388
        Page 389
        Page 390
        Page 391
        Page 392
        Page 393
        Page 394
        Page 395
        Page 396
        Page 397
        Page 398
        Page 399
        Page 400
        Page 401
        Page 402
        Page 403
        Page 404
        Page 405
        Page 406
        Page 407
        Page 408
        Page 409
        Page 410
        Page 411
        Page 412
        Page 413
        Page 414
Full Text

Structural Adjustment and
African Women Farmers


Adjustment and

African Women


Edited by
Christina H. Gladwin

University of Florida Press
Center for African Studies, University of Florida


Copyright 1991 by the Board of Regents of the State of Florida
Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper
The University of Florida Press is a member of University Presses of Florida, the scholarly
publishing agency of the State University System of Florida. Books are selected for publi-
cation by faculty editorial committees at each of Florida's nine public universities: Florida
A&M University (Tallahassee), Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton), Florida
International University (Miami), Florida State University (Tallahassee), University of
Central Florida (Orlando), University of Florida (Gainesville), University of North
Florida (Jacksonville), University of South Florida (Tampa), University of West Florida
Orders for books published by all member presses should be addressed to University
Presses of Florida, 15 Northwest 15th Street, Gainesville, FL 32603.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Structural adjustment and African woman farmers / edited by Christina
H. Gladwin.
p. cm.
Includes index.
ISBN 0-8130-1063-2
1. Women farmers--Africa, Sub-Saharan--Congresses. 2. Women
agricultural laborers--Africa, Sub-Saharan--Congresses.
3. Agriculture and state--Africa, SubSaharan--Congresses.
4. Agricultural subsidies--Africa, Sub-Saharan--Congresses.
I. Gladwin, Christina H. II. University of Florida. Center for
African Studies.
HD6073.F3A3757 1991 90-19534
331.4'83'0967--do20 CIP

The women are, of course, the biggest single group of oppressed
people in the world and, if we are to believe the Book of Genesis,
the very oldest. But they are not the only ones. There are others-
rural peasants in every land, the urban poor in industrialized coun-
tries, Black people everywhere including their own continent, eth-
nic and religious minorities and castes in all countries. The most
obvious practical difficulty is the magnitude and heterogeneity of
the problem. There is no universal conglomerate of the oppressed.
Free people may be alike everywhere in their freedom but the
oppressed inhabit each their own peculiar hell. The present ortho-
doxies of deliverance are futile to the extent that they fail to recog-
nize this....
The sweeping, majestic visions of people rising victorious like a
tidal wave against their oppressors and transforming their world
with theories and slogans into a new heaven and a new earth of
brotherhood, justice and freedom are at best grand illusions. The
rising, conquering tide, yes; but the millennium afterwards, no!
New oppressors will have been readying themselves secretly in the
undertow long before the tidal wave got really going.
Experience and intelligence warn us that man's progress in free-
dom will be piecemeal, slow and undramatic. Revolution may be
necessary for taking a society out of an intractable stretch of quag-
mire but it does not confer freedom, and may indeed hinder it.
Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah


--m Introduction 1

Part I. Structural Adjustment and Transformation
/1. Structural Adjustment and Structural Transformation in sub-
Saharan Africa 25
Stephen O'Brien
2. Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation: Some
Lessons and Questions from the African Experience 46
Uma Lele
3. Getting Priorities Right: Structural Transformation and Strategic
Notions 81
> BBruce F. Johnston

Part II. Impacts of Structural Adjustment on Women
4. Policies to Overcome the Negative Effects of Structural
Adjustment Programs on African Female-Headed
Households 103
Jean M. Due
5. The Impact of Structural Adjustment Programs on Women and
Their Households in Bendel and Ogun States, Nigeria 128
Patience Elabor-Idemudia
6. Women and Structural Adjustment in Zaire 151
Brooke Schoepfand Walu Engundu
with Diane Russell and Claude Schoepf
7. The Impact of Structural Adjustment Programs on Rural Women
in Tanzania 169
Ruth Meena
(8 Fertilizer Subsidy Removal Programs and Their Potential Impacts
on Women Farmers in Malawi and Cameroon 191
Christina H. Gladwin
9. Women Traders in Ghana and the Structural Adjustment
Program 217
Gracia Clark and Takyiwaa Manuh


viii Contents

Part III. Impacts of Structural Transformation and
Adjustment Policies
10. The Ideology and Political Economy of Gender: Women and
Land in Nso, Cameroon 239
Miriam Goheen
11. Women's Agricultural Work in a Multimodal Rural Economy:
Ibarapa District, Oyo State, Nigeria 257
Jane I. Guyer with Olukemi Idowu
12. Structural Transformation and Its Consequences for Orma
Women Pastoralists 281
Jean Ensminger

Part IV. Debate on the Economy of Affection: Is It a Useful
Tool for Gender Analysis? 303
Goran Hyden and Pauline E. Peters

Part V. Where Do We Go from Here?
13. New Women's Organizations in Nigeria: One Response to
Structural Adjustment 339
Lillian Trager and Clara Osinulu
14. The Role of Home Economics Agents in Rural Development
Programs in Northern Nigeria: Impacts of Structural
Adjustment 359
Comfort B. Olayiwole
15. Curriculum Planning for Women and Agricultural Households:
The Case of Cameroon 373
SSuzanna Smith and Barbara Taylor
S16. Women Farmers, Structural Adjustment, and FAO's Plan of
Action for Integration of Women in Development 387
Anita Spring and Vicki Wilde

Index 409


Christina H. Gladwin

In the 1980s, development experts and donor agencies agreed on the
importance of macroeconomic policies to the development of sub-
Saharan Africa. Following the 1981 Berg report, policy reforms aimed at
"getting prices right" were made preconditions for new structural adjust-
ment loans and grants in many sub-Saharan African countries (World
Bank 1981). Recently, however, debates about the pros and cons of struc-
tural adjustment programs (SAPs) have ensued. This volume presents evi-
dence from noted African and Africanist social scientists (anthropologists,
economists, political scientists, and sociologists) who take positions on
both sides of this debate.
On one side of the debate are those who argue for structural adjust-
ments as a way to invigorate stagnating agricultural and industrial sectors
(Bates, 1981; Timmer, Falcon, and Pearson 1983; Due, 1986). They
argue that distorted "macro prices" (overvalued exchange rates, artificially
low food prices, high wage rates, low interest rates, subsidized input
prices) may improve income distribution and the adequacy of food intake
in the short run, especially by the poor, whose food consumption can
least stand to be reduced. But distorted prices also send critical signals
that may negatively affect the efficient allocation of resources and cause
stagnation of the food supply system and economy in the long run.

Because most governments wish to affect income distribution in
their societies, they are greatly tempted to use government policy in

Christina H. Gladwin is Associate Professor in the Food and Resource Economics
Department, Affiliate of the Anthropology Department, and member of the Center for
African Studies. She has a Ph.D. from Food Research Institute, Stanford University, and
has done extensive fieldwork in Ghana, Mexico, and Guatemala, as well as short periods
of fieldwork in Malawi and Cameroon. She is the author of Ethnographic Decision Tree
Modeling and Food and Farm: Current Debates and Policies. She is grateful to Gwen
McCann and other members of the Word Processing Unit, Food and Resource
Economics, for help in editing this manuscript.

2 Introduction

an effort to set macro prices, rather than allow them to be deter-
mined by market forces. If wage rates can be set high, labor is no
longer cheap, and poverty is eliminated. If interest rates can be set
low, capital is not scarce, and a country can quickly have a modern
industrial sector. If food prices are kept low, food is abundant, and
no one will be hungry.... It is no wonder that many countries have
tried this approach. When it fails-as it must until the productivity
base has been built that will support higher levels of living in the
long run-the economy is riddled with serious price distortions.
Resource allocations skew income distribution while much of the
labor power of the work force is left untapped, and the government
faces stagnant growth in both agricultural and industrial output. It
is not easy to put such an economy back on track (Timmer, Falcon,
and Pearson 1983: 229).

These distorted macro prices were some of the internal factors which
led to sub-Saharan Africa's economic crisis in the decade of the 1980s.
Clearly, there were other internal factors causing the crisis mentioned by
both the United Nations' Economic Commission for Africa (1989: 2-8)
report and the papers in this volume; they include a narrow production
base with ill-adapted technology, an over-dependence on subsistence agri-
culture, the urban bias of public policies, weak linkages between the
modern formal sector and growing informal sector, and poor institutional
management. The internal factors were, of course, compounded by exter-
nal factors in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The latter included the oil
price hikes of 1973 and 1979, the collapse in world prices of primary
(agricultural)_ commodities which account for 88 percent of Africa's
exports, and resulting sharp declines in Africa's terms of trade since 1981.
All these factors led to a doubling of Africa's total debt which, although a
small percentage (10 percent) of global debt, resulted in the total evapo-
ration of commercial lending flows into Africa and the additional curtail-
ment of loans-or switch to grants-by donor agencies. Africa's eco-
nomic performance was therefore "particularly dismal" with an average
annual growth rate of GDP of only 0.4 percent during the period
1980-1987; and per-capita incomes, already low in comparison to those
in Asia or Latin America at the end of the 1970s, steadily declined by 2.6
percent per annum during the 1980s (Economic Commission for Africa
[ECA] 1989: i). In addition to the increasing poverty, Africa's productive
and infrastructural facilities, as well as social services (education, public
health and sanitation, housing and potable water) have "rapidly deterio-
rated" (ibid.).
It is in this context-the context of a decade-long depression-that

Gladwin 3

structural adjustment programs and policies (SAPs), supported by the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and adopted by
over 30 African countries since 1982 have to be examined. What are the
structural adjustment reforms which reportedly can put a distorted econ-
omy back on track? Many adjustment packages include: devaluation of
overvalued currencies, increases in artificially low food prices and interest
States, a closer alignment of domestic prices with world prices, an empha-
Ssis on tradeables/exportables and the gradual withdrawal of restrictions
Son competition from abroad (trade liberalization), privatization policies

4 Introduction

(of "parastatals" or large-scale government monopolies), a decrease in
government spending, wage and hiring freezes, reductions in employ-
ment in the public sector or the minimum wage, the removal of food and
S input subsidies, and across-the-board reductions in budget deficits as
ways to invigorate stagnating economies (ECA 1989: 18-20).
The paper by O'Brien in this volume sets out quite clearly the ratio-
nale for structural adjustment reforms in sub-Saharan Africa. Underlying
"the prescriptions is the neoclassical economics assumption that markets
work; markets are generally competitive; and market signals are good
guides to resource allocation. Structural adjustment thus means the intro-
duction of more market-oriented policies-liberalization of markets,
more efficient use of prices, greater openness to trade, and a bigger role
for the private sector. Structural adjustment demands the reduction of
budget and balance of payments deficits through fiscal and monetary
measures. It demands a public service that is efficient and reliable, with
transparent accounting for public monies. It relies on more intensive use
of the private sector through divestiture of nonstrategic public enter-
prises-parastatilTs and requires the removal of exchange rate and other
biases against exports. Why? Removing distortions and providing proper
incentives to the private sector would (1) increase production from
underutilized productive capacity in agriculture and manufacturing, (2)
achieve a more efficient use of resources, and (3) promote a higher rate of
investment which would expand production capacity.
But as Elson (1989: 60-64) points out, adjustment means change, and
change means costs as well as benefits, losers as well as winners. The
structural adjustment process affects households via: (1) changes in
income, through changes in money wages or product prices, (2) changes
in prices of purchases, especially food (3) changes in public expenditure,
particularly those in the social sector, and (4) changes in working condi-
tions. Structural adjustment changes will not affect all households in the
same way; some will lose and some will win.
A case in point is devaluation of an overvalued currency, whereby a
home country's currency becomes less valuable in terms of foreign cur-
rency. Members of the urban middle- and upper-classes in the home
country usually object strenuously to devaluation, because with an over-
valued exchange rate, they can import goods cheaply, although it's harder
to export. Devaluation realigns domestic currencies with international
currencies, thereby making imports more costly; but exports become
/ more competitive. "In theory, devaluation will primarily affect the prices
only of internationally traded goods and not domestic goods except for
the traded inputs in their manufacture" (Due, this volume).
Who will be the winners and losers? The people who use imported

Gladwin 5

reduced. And it devaluation is couple witn an increase in agricultural
producer prices, those who benefit will be the farmers and those who lose
will be the urban elites. This should stimulate agricultural production in
the long run, and encourage import substitution of domestic goods in
production, because imports are more expensive. It should also encourage
diversified exports, because they become cheaper to foreign buyers with
devaluation. Thus exporters should benefit and importers should lose.
Do other economic actors lose? As imports get more expensive, domestic
prices of substitute products also rise, and this generates more inflation.
As Due in this volume points out, priceincreases often do not wait for
inputs to work themselves through the production cycle, but occur
immediately after the announcement of devaluation, and affect all con-
sumer goods. Another problem for the losers is the compounding of effects
of SAP policies with the effects of the sharp declines in world prices of
primary commodities and Africa's terms of trade. For those losing out due
to declining primary commodity prices, losing out due to SAPs and their
emphasis on exportables can be a double whammy.
A related question is: are structural adjustment programs and policies
gender-neutral (i.e., affecting men and women equally), or merely gender-
blindi.e., ignoring the impacts on women and assuming them to be the
same as on men)? Authors in this volume agree that there is a difference
between the two, and that SAP programs are not gender-neutral in opera-
tion or effect. In theory, SAP programs should benefit women producers,
because much of the emphasis of SAPs is placed on renewing agricultural
production, eliminating an urban development bias, and aligning farm-
gate prices with world prices. Authors in this volume claim, however, that
this will depend on: first, how the policy is implemented in practice; sec-
ond, what types of agriculture (large- vs. small-scale, export vs. food
crops) are in fact supported and encouraged by SAP programs; third,
whether or not agricultural price increases cover changes in input costs
when subsidies are discontinued; and fourth, whether rural women are in
fa-iselling food crops in a market or buying food crops to feed their fami-

Arguments pAgnstStructural Adjustment
On the other side of the debate are those who argue that structural
adjustment programs (SAPs) have failed to stimulate economic growth or
recovery in sub-Saharan Africa. Some claim that SAP reforms, despite a
heavy focus on agriculture and efforts to increase producer incentives for

6 Introduction

w -I

,- s

V^ ^

- ,U

There is no question that African women provide most of the labor required to pro-
duce the food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa.

i -d t
~,arc~B, 'r



Gladwin 7

farmers, have not only failed to eliminate urban bias and redistribute
incomes from the urban to rural sectors but have in fact worsened agricul-
tural production and incomes. They have erred by being too macroeco-
nomic in scope (i.e., looking at the economy only from the national or
international level) and have ignored the reality of life at the microeco-
nomic or village level in sub-Saharan Africa, where the rural producers-
who would supposedly gain from an urban-to-rural redistribution of
income under SAP reforms-are women. As a result, structural adjust-
ment programs are not gender neutral in operation or effect.
There is no question that African women provide most of the labor
required to produce the food consumed in Africa, although estimates of
women's labor force participation rates in agriculture vary from high esti-
mates of 58 percent (Botswana) to estimates of 46 percent on average
(Dixon 1982), with much regional variation (Boserup 1970). In addi-
tion, there is no debate that the proportion of African smallholders who
are female-headed households is very high by international standards
(Due 1989, this volume). Indeed, the only debate surrounds the ques-
tions of how gender affects rural development and why the supposedly
gender-neutral SAP recommendations would be undermined by the gen-
der of the food producers to whom they are supposed to provide incen-
The answer, according to many authors in this volume, lies in the real-
ity of social stratification and differentiation at the village and household
level, an--imbalances in power relations which affect who gets access to
the means of production and who controls the surplus or profit that
results from added incentives to produce. Due to social stratification at
the village level and inequality in gender relations at the household level,
women rural producers are not in a position to benefit from the suppos-
edly gender-neutral effects of structural adjustment policies. The WID
literature, by now too vast to cite adequately, testifies to the fact that sub-
Saharan African women farmers suffer from unequal access to the mod-
ern yield-increasing inputs that an intensification or turnaround of
African agriculture will demand (Gladwin and McMillan 1989: 356).
Given the SAPs' greater producer incentives, they will not be allowed to
respond with an economically appropriate supply response (Lele, this vol-
ume), because they lack access to basic inputs of production that men
(particularly large farmers) ave received: land (Goheen, Peters), credit
and fertilizer (Gladwin), labor (Guyer), and in many societies the right to
grow cash or export crops at all (Lele, Meena, Elabor-Idemudia). Given
the SAPs' greater emphasis on exportables, men who grow export crops
may appropriate more of these basic inputs from the women who grow

8 Introduction

food crops, making their job to feed the family more difficult and their
opportunities to generate a marketable surplus even rarer (Lele, Schoepf
and Walu, Spring and Wilde).
The result will not be that men will take over more of the food produc-
tion, as is often suggested (Cohen 1989), at least not in the short run
(Gladwin and McMillan 1989); because men usually refuse to do work
which according to prevailing custom should be done by women
(Boserup 1970: 34-35). The result may be more African food crises in the
1990s, because women contribute more to the production of food crops
than to export crops, which are favored under SAPs. If food production is
largely in the nonmonetized sector, as many authors in this volume
demonstrate, price signals designed to elicit improved supply responses in
agriculture will have virtually no effect. They thus argue that SAPs must
be redesigned to stimulate food production that is necessary to enable
women to produce the food necessary in both rural and urban areas.
Higher food production is also critical to increasing the backward and
forward linkages to the manufacturing sector-and thus achieving struc-
tural transformation in the foreseeable future (Johnston, O'Brien).
Another result of African women's unequal access to the means of pro-
duction in both rural and urban areas is that the adverse effects of cut-
backs in government spending in social services (health, education) and
wages all hardest on them (Due, Elabor-Idemudia, Meena, Schoepf and
/ Walu). Because women-headed households tend to be the smallest of the
smallholders, they are often also consumers and not just producers of food
products, and as such suffer when food prices rise (Due, Elabor-
-Idemudia, Gladwin, Lele, Peters). Because women lack the legal rights to
acquire larger land holdings, the training to use high-yielding varieties
and irrigation, the time to do more work, and the capital to purchase fer-
tilizer and tractors, they cannot raise their incomes. Because women are
in charge of reproduction in the household as well as production, they
also suffer from SAP-recommended increases in school fees, lack of
medicines in the village dispensary, and increases in malnutrition rates
I (Due, Meena). Because they often depend on remittances from husbands
or sons working in urban areas, they also suffer from urban wage freezes
or firings. Because women traders depend on an urban clientele to main-
tain an adequate level of sales, their businesses also suffer from SAP poli-
cies which cut back urban consumption (Clark and Manuh).
There is thus agreement among all authors in this volume that SAP
policies which increase food prices and reduce job opportunities may
increase malnutrition and jeopardize the creation of human capital and
the reproduction of the household. Case studies in chapters 4 to 10 show

Gladwin 9

that there are adverse effects of structural adjustment programs which
impact on African women, be they farmers, traders, or consumers, rural
or urban. Indeed, one might ask if there are any positive impacts of SAP
programs on African women. Fortunately, chapters 11 and 12 provide
some counterevidence to the pessimistic scenario painted in earlier chap-
ters. Guyer's case study of Yoruba women shows that Nigerian SAP poli-
cies, the ban on all imported food, and the resulting price hikes have
encouraged some entrepreneurial women to start their own farms and
cash in on higher producer prices. Ensminger's case study of Orma seden-
tarized pastoralists shows that the rise in Kenyan meat prices during the
1980s, coupled with government decentralization, has meant greater
incomes, education, nutrition, health, and political power for Orma
women. In these two studies, both based on two periods of field research
(admittedly in less economically distressed nations than those of previous
chapters), the welfare of women is not seen to be adversely affected by
structural adjustment policies. Are these strikingly different results due to
differences in national context, SAP policies, or merely method of analy-
sis? (In chapters 4 to 10, there are almost no local baseline data for mea-
suring changes in women's work hours, returns on labor, purchased food,
nutrition, or access to cash crops; in chapter 12, there are comparable
data collected longitudinally.) The reader should note this area of dis-
agreement between authors in the volume.
But is it important to be looking at the impacts of SAP programs on
women entrepreneurs for equity reasons alone? No, claim all the authors in
this volume. In contrast to the Economic Commission on Africa (1989)
report, we are not viewing women primarily as "a vulnerable group" or
poor consumers or victims, which carries the danger of deteriorating into
paternalism (Elson 1989: 71). Instead, we look at the impacts ofSAPs on
women producers because that impact will also affect aggregate food pro-
duction in sub-Saharan Africa. Because women are now at the core of the
production system, providing labor to export and domestic crops and in
many African societies being solely responsible for food crop production
and marketing, for efficiency as well as equity reasons it is essential that we
understand the impact of structural adjustment and transformation pro-
grams on women. If price incentives are to be the solution to Africa's food
crises, and women fa rs produce most of the food but cannot provide
a supply response to increased price incentives, then more African food
crises are in store for the 1990s. If credit is a constraint limiting fertilizer
use and food production, then it is essential to identify constraints limit-
ing women farmers' use of credit and fertilizer (Gladwin). If"soft govern-
ment" (Hyden 1983, Cohen 1989) is to be strengthened by SAP policies,

10 Introduction

then what will be the impact on women, for whom state intervention has
often meant more male control of land, labor, and other resources (Staudt
1987)? As Elson (1989: 64) states,

If greater reliance is to be placed on private enterprise, we need to
ask: whose enterprise? The enterprise of the woman farming or trad-
ing on her own account, or the enterprise of agribusiness and mer-
chants with monopoly power? The enterprise of a women's coopera-
tive or the enterprise of a multinational corporation?

Confounding these issues is the fact that structural adjustment does
not guarantee that "structural transformation" of the economy, i.e., sub-
stantial shifts in the structure of demand and production, will occur.
Most development economists concur that structural transformation of
the whole economy is essential to "true" development in the long run. It
entails the development of manufacturing and service sectors such that
the relative importance of the agricultural sector declines, i.e., the percent
of the labor force in agriculture and the percent of the GNP from the
agricultural sector declines as labor specialization proceeds. Although it is
not a transformation that has already taken place in Africa, it is the long-
term goal of any development policy. As economists O'Brien, Lele, and
Johnston point out in this volume, "getting prices right" via structural
adjustment policies merely sets the stage in the short term for real develop-
ment to occur; but structural transformation is a long-term process which
demands structural changes in the composition of production, consump-
tion, and trade-and not merely changes in monetarist policies. Seen in
this light, structural adjustment is a necessary but not sufficient condition
for development to occur.
Despite substantial agreement among the authors-on the need for
long-term structural transformation, on womnsi lack of access to basic
inputs of production, and on the absence of gender-neutral SAP pro-
grams in operation and impact-there are also significant differences
among the authors. One, that of method of analysis, has already been
noted. Another is national context. The problem is in tracing the poverty
of particular groups in particular countries to specific structural adjust-
ment policies. The countries with the poorest economies (Zaire,
Tanzania, and Ghana) have long recent histories of severe political/eco-
nomic dislocation, whereas others (Kenya, Malawi, Cameroon, Nigeria)
are better off politically and economically. Compounding the problem of
assessing impact is the incredible variation in SAP packages in African
countries and the simultaneous presence of macro-level policies that are

Gladwin 11

completely separate from World Bank/IMF-supported SAP policies.
Government decentralization policies in Kenya and Zaire (Ensminger,
Schoepf and Walu) and the Nigerian policy of cutting off food imports
(Elabor-Idemudia, Guyer) are good examples of these policies which one
might view as either good or bad structural transformation policies. Their
impact is also described in the case studies to be presented because, from
a villager's point of view, it matters little what the policy is called if one is
poorer and hungrier. At the same time, authors try to separate the effects
of different policies while using the in-context approach of the case study
and preserving the richness of the ethnographic description.

The Carter Lecture Series

The 1990 Carter Lecture Series addressed these issues in a conference
January 25-27, 1990, in Gainesville, Florida, by bringing together top
scholars in the fields of structural adjustment, structural transformation,
and women in development. The Carter Lectures on Africa have been
established to honor our colleague Gwendolyn M. Carter, whose distin-
guished service to African Studies (at Smith College, Northwestern,
Indiana, and Florida universities) and to the cause of Africa's welfare and
progress has spanned over four decades. To continue this tradition, the
lecture series focuses on important frontier problems concerned with
African affairs and human development on the continent. The Carter
Lectures hope to stimulate further research and act as a catalyst, as Gwen
Carter has done, to bring important policy issues and points of view from
both African and American scholars to the attention of the educated pub-
lic. Previous Carter Lectures have focused on the African food crisis and
the rise of commercial agriculture in Africa (1986), apartheid in South
Africa (1987), and human rights in Africa (1988). The 1990 Carter
Lectures with funding from the Ford Foundation both drew on this
expertise and set out in new directions, producing this volume.

A Preview
The organization of the papers from the 1990 Carter Lecture Series is the
following. O'Brien's paper provides a macro-economic defense of struc-
tural adjustment programs (SAPs) mandated by the World Bank and
IMF; that perspective has never included considerations of gender dis-
tinctions. The paper sets the stage for the rest of the papers which do
focus on the gendered effects of SAPs by introducing and distinguishing
the concepts of structural transformation and structural adjustment.

12 Introduction

O'Brien describes the relevance of structural transformation in the devel-
opment process as "substantive changes in the structure of production
and demand which are signaled by a decline in the importance of the
agricultural sector and a rise in the importance of manufacturing." After a
brief history of development policies in sub-Saharan Africa, he discusses
structural adjustment programs (SAPs) and their causes, and counters the
criticisms of the Economic Commission for Africa 1989 report. He con-
cludes that "the verdict is still out" on structural adjustment policies and
programs: as Chief Economist for the African Region, World Bank, he
follows Elliott Berg in thinking that adjustment policies are "good eco-
nomic policies." Yet he recognizes that SAPs alone do not ensure eco-
nomic development in sub-Saharan Africa. Structural adjustment, while
necessary, is not a sufficient condition for development to occur; it
merely sets the stage for structural transformation to occur.
Uma Lele, agricultural economist at the World Bank, then demon-
strates the linkages between women's roles in agricultural production in
sub-Saharan Africa, structural adjustment programs, and structural trans-
formation policies needed for real development to occur in Africa. She
recognizes the need for structural adjustment policies, claiming they were
made necessary by the neglect of agriculture and expansion of the public
sector which weakened the industrialization effort. She sees SAP reforms
as efforts to correct past discrimination against the agricultural sector,
enhance the structure of overall incentives, and introduce fiscal discipline.
Yet although the reforms are still needed, she realizes that not all the
effects of adjustment are positive in the short run; and adverse impacts of
SAPs are bound to be greater on women-headed households. But she
claims that the current unsatisfactory scenario must be compared with
"the even worse consequences of not adjusting." Without improvements
in fiscal discipline and the overall incentive structure, Africa faces a con-
tinued decline in per capital income and more massive poverty. The issue
for Lele is "thus not whether to adjust, but the speed of adjustment and
the mix of measures to ensure that growth is resumed."
Johnston's paper claims that "getting priorities right" during the pro-
cess of structural transformation should be the goal of sub-Saharan
African governments, rather than a narrow adherence to "getting prices
right." For countries other than Tanzania and Ghana, price and related
distortions may be only a minor impediment; and macroeconomic
reforms can never be a substitute for the policies and programs needed to
foster longer-term agricultural development and structural transforma-
tion. Johnston, an agricultural economist from Stanford University,
draws on his well-known distinction between a unimodal strategy of
development which focuses on increasing the productivity of a broad base

Gladwin 13

of small farmers-most of whom are women farmers in sub-Saharan
Africa-and a bimodalstrategy of development which concentrates scarce
resources of capital, land, and energy on a small subsector of large
farms-owned by (local or multinational) male elites. He claims that the
choice of development strategy by government depends critically on the
"strategic notions" of government planners who influence decision mak-
ing, and explores these. He argues that, with a unimodal pattern of agri-
cultural development, sub-Saharan African governments can "get priori-
ties right" by providing an alternative, sustainable model of development
to the capital-intensive, nonsustainable, large-scale model that works
against women farmers' interests.

Impacts of Structural Adjustment on Women Farmers
Papers in this section present ethnographically rich case studies which
look at particular SAPs in particular countries and their impact from the
micro or village level, where up to 80 percent of the food is produced by
women. For these agricultural producers, a decrease in government
spending may mean much higher school fees and no available medicines;
wage freezes may mean no remittances from sons/husbands; the removal
of subsidies may mean expensive fertilizers are now priced beyond their
reach; an emphasis on exportables may mean a decrease in the resources
of land, labor, and capital/credit available to their food crops. The result
of structural adjustment in the 1980s may be more African food crises in
the 1990s; and women, especially female-headed households, will suffer
from higher food costs and lower nutrition, more farm work, less control
of land and cash crops, and more limited access to health and educational
Focusing on East and Central Africa, Due, an agricultural economist
at the University of Illinois, looks at the effects of structural adjustment
programs on female-headed and low-resource households. She argues that
the 25 percent of smallholder farm households which are female-headed
and which consume most of their production will not be assisted by SAP
programs. In addition, expenditures for education and health (including
family planning) have been cut by the structural adjustment programs;
and inflation has increased markedly. By contrasting the socio-economic
position of male-headed (or joint-headed) and female-headed households
in Tanzania, Zambia, and Malawi, she shows some of the effects of both
production-oriented and consumption-oriented structural adjustment
programs. She then suggests some complementary policies to mitigate the
impacts of structural adjustment on female-headed households.
Elabor-Idemudia, a sociologist at the Ontario Institute for Studies in
Education, claims that the structural adjustment program adopted by

14 Introduction

Nigeria after a long internal debate, as a way of putting its economy on
the right path to recovery, has so far imparted undue hardships on the
Lives of its people. She argues that SAP measures of devaluation, privatiza-
tion, increased market orientation, and cutting of food imports are not
necessarily benefiting Nigeria's rural women. Rather, given women's lack
of economic power and control over their agricultural products, SAP
policies are further subjecting women to increased poverty, powerlessness,
and marginalization in terms of access to productive resources and deci-
sion-making. She uses 1989 data from two agricultural projects in Bendel
and Ogun states, Nigeria, to document these claims. Her results support
Elson's (1989: 65) claim that "neither joint decision-making nor equal
sharing of resources within households is at all common, and it is quite
possible for the level of living of wives to be lower than that of husbands;
and for the level of living of girls to be lower than that of boys." She con-
cludes that, after Nigeria's SAP, the quality of life in almost all rural
households has deteriorated, with members resorting to eating only one
or two meals a day-and using formulas such as "001, 010, or 100" to
denote the number and timing of meals rather than verbalizing more
accurately their hunger. The hardships brought on the people of Nigeria
and the rural poor by structural adjustment cannot be overstressed, in her
opinion; and the hardships are more severe for women.
Schoepf, an anthropologist at the Bunting Institute, Harvard, and
Engundu, an anthropologist at the Centre de Recherche en Sciences
Humaines, Zaire, criticize the use of structural adjustment and other
market-oriented policies to address and solve Zaire's economic crisis.
They believe that the roots of the crisis go back to pre-independence
times; they use case study materials from Zaire to question the pertinence
of purely monetary prescriptions for the current ills Zaire is experiencing.
Departing from an analysis of class formation and the role of the state,
their paper examines the effects of recent policy shifts (devaluation, gov-
ernment fiscal restraint, decentralization, liberalization and privatization
of markets) and its effect upon local production and distribution systems
with special attention to gender relations and health among poor rural
and urban women, who in Zaire are farmers, traders, and consumers.
Meena, a sociologist at the Women's Research and Documentation
Projects, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, then describes Tanzania's
economic stagnation from the start of the mid-1970s, its causes, and
structural adjustment reforms adopted in response to it. In responding to
the crisis, Tanzania and the World Bank/IMF disagreed over the details of
the structural adjustment program, with the Tanzanian government try-
ing to protect the achievements it had previously made in the social ser-

Gladwin 15

vice sector. The IMF, however, was not interested in the issue of main-
taining equality in income distribution and provision of social services, as
Much as it was in stimulating production. Meena first describes the
impact of the negotiated SAP package on women farmers and their food
production. She then describes the impact of budget cuts on health care
and education at the primary, secondary, and university level. She con-
cludes that African states which are committed to long-term solutions of
the crisis should best realize that the IMF packages are mainly serving the
interest of capital; and adjustment programs will only benefit the people
if they are initiated by the people for the interests of the people.
Gladwin, an agricultural economist-anthropologist at the University of
Florida, argues that perhaps the most damaging part of SAP packages, in
terms of their impact on African women farmers, has been a removal of
fertilizer subsidies, proposed in some African countries. The traditional
rationale for government's granting of fertilizer subsidies has been the
need to increase the profitability and intensity of agriculture, most
directly done by decreasing the cost of yield-increasing inputs such as
chemical fertilizers, while keeping food prices artificially low. The current
emphasis of reducing government expenditures in structural adjustment
programs, however, has questioned the social profitability of these subsi-
dies to farmers, even smallholders who cannot easily afford to buy fertil-
izer. This paper examines the potential impact of recent "fertilizer subsidy
removal" programs on women farmers who produce food crops, mainly
maize, in both Malawi and Cameroon, countries with an admirable his-
tory for food self-sufficiency. The argument is made that a removal of the
fertilizer subsidy will decrease fertilizer use drastically, because lack of
cash and imperfect credit markets are the main constraints limiting
women farmers' use of chemical fertilizers-and not an indigenous belief
in organic fertilizers. Because maize is fertilizer responsive, and there are
not enough organic substitutes for chemical fertilizer in the local farming
systems at this time, a decrease in fertilizer use will decrease maize pro-
duction, thus jeopardizing not only women's agricultural production and
incomes, but also national food self-sufficiency. A more complete struc-
tural adjustment, involving higher producer prices, firing civil servants,
and dismantling parastatals, would be better than focusing only on
removing fertilizer subsidies; and it might open the way for a greater
diversity of productive strategies and employment opportunities rather
than enforcing a large-scale, capital-intensive agriculture that works
against women's interests.
Clark, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan, and Manuh,
African Studies Center, University of Ghana, describe the current impact

16 Introduction

of structural adjustment in Ghana on women traders, which takes place
within the context of earlier government intervention in trade which
included violent price enforcement. In 1979 and again in 1982, as inter-
national and urban-rural terms of trade plummeted, successive govern-
ments targeted market women for ideological attack and hostile policies
such as price control. Traders' political actions and economic responses
conversely grouped them with local consumers. Since the Economic
Recovery Program/Structural Adjustment Program began in 1984, trade
liberalization and the rehabilitation of transport have removed some sig-
nificant restrictions on market women's activities. But 1989 survey results
by both authors also show that the cumulative effect of years of cata-
strophic losses from confiscations and interrupted trade left many traders
with insufficient capital to operate at 1979 levels. Soaring prices continu-
ally raised capital requirements in local currency terms at a rate few
traders could match. Those barely hanging on were vulnerable to
bankruptcy from minor personal or business crises they could previously
have weathered with relative ease. City council traffic and sanitation poli-
cies also negatively affect some traders. The broader effects of structural
adjustment further limit positive impact.

Impacts of Structural Transformation and Adjustment Policies
Next are papers which explore the additional impact of other macro poli-
cies which we term structural transformation policies. They are acting
simultaneously and interacting with adjustment policies; and are often
misinterpreted as part of SAPs, when viewed from the village level. The
impact of these policies is important to analyze because the development
process itself may positively or negatively impact on women farmers,
depending on whether women's access to productive inputs, capital/
credit, markets, technical training, and the political arena is blocked or
not (Tinker 1976, Gladwin and McMillan 1989). Policies are analyzed
which affect women's production and incomes with new land tenure poli-
cies (Goheen), with the entrance of new kinds of farm organizations
(Guyer), and with decentralization of government services (Ensminger).
In each of these papers, the interactions between the longer-term struc-
tural transformation policies and the shorter-term adjustment policies are
described, and both of their impacts on women's productive roles and
incomes are explored.
Goheen, an anthropologist at Amherst College, looks at women's
access to land in Nso in Anglophone Cameroon. She claims that the very
categories which have given women status and power in Africa-mother-
hood-are those which have been undermined and subverted by the mar-

Gladwin 17

ketplace and the differential valuation of male and female work, creating
a feminization of poverty which is exacerbated by a growing stratification
in rural Cameroon. This has been accomplished primarily by limiting
women's access to and control over productive resources-mainly land
and education-while at the same time greatly increasing the demands
on female labor and income, because women grow the bulk of the food
consumed and have the social responsibility for provisioning the house-
hold. Thus the long-term weakening of women's access to land, coupled
with the current impact of SAPs, threatens the nutritional level not only
of the rural household but of a large proportion of the national popula-
Guyer, an anthropologist at Boston University, with Idowu, Raw
Materials Research Council, Lagos, looks at the diversity of farm organi-
zations and farm sizes in Ibarapa District, Oyo State, Nigeria, and their
impact on women's labor force participation in the era of SAP. They
claim that there are two interpretations of such diversity. One is populist,
represented by the classical work of Chayanov, and the other is class anal-
ysis, which focuses on social differentiation and identifies certain kinds of
differentiation in class terms. In their view, "class analysis has also high-
lighted those gender dynamics that have greatly intensified patriarchal
control of women's resources and subjected women to more and more
complicated and exigent labor routines." Guyer with Idowu claim both
forms of analysis are clearly relevant to Africa as production diversifies
and differentiates at the same time. The critical questions to answer are:
"at what point and in what historical socio-political dynamic should
'diversity' be analyzed as differentiation, an aspect of class relations?" And
where class differentiation is present, at what point and in what ways does
it constrain the production and welfare of the lower strata including rural
women? They then describe the bimodal-or multimodal (Cohen
1989)-nature of Nigerian agriculture as well as Nigerian structural
adjustment policies, and analyze their impact on rural women in Ibarapa.
They conclude that local farmers, whether small- or mid-scale, male or
female, have very different impacts on rural development, class forma-
tion, and women's employment, compared to capitalist agribusinesses in
Ensminger, an anthropologist at Washington University at St. Louis,
also looks at the differentiation patterns caused by both structural trans-
formation and adjustment policies. In contrast to other papers in this vol-
ume, however, her study of the impact of Kenya's macroeconomic poli-
cies on women shows that there have been some very positive effects for
the women of an East African cattle-herding population, the pastoral

18 Introduction

Orma of Northeastern Kenya. Data on terms of trade between 1980 and
1987, household expenditures, anthropometric measures of nutritional
status, vaccination, and education by gender show even stronger positive
signs for poor households generally and women specifically. These more
significant trends are argued to reflect the beginning of genuine structural
transformation, a process furthered most recently by Kenyan governmen-
tal policy changes favoring administrative decentralization and reschedul-
ing of meat prices. The effect of these policy changes is seen in women's
education, nutrition, health, political participation, and economic

Debate on the Economy of Affection
We also present the transcriptions of a formal debate held during the con-
ference to address the question, "Is the economy of affection a useful
model for addressing gender differences in Africa, as well as tracking
structural adjustment and its impact on women farmers?" The two-hour
debate, trancribed and reproduced here, featured on one side Hyden, a
political scientist at the University of Florida, who coined the term "econ-
omy of affection" in 1980 to describe networks of relatively autonomous,
"uncatured" peasants living in a peasant mode of production which
rromiete with the capitalist mode and therefore limits development in
ica. In his view, the economy of affection is a way to avoid the top-
down approaches of the 1960s and 1970s development literature and
analyze the severe problems of underdevelopment that Africa faces.
On the other side of the debate is Peters, an anthropologist at
Harvard's Institute of International Development, who argues that
African peasants are very involved in exchanges (work groups, wage
labor) so that they are neither autonomous nor uncaptured; neither do
they withdraw from commercial to subsistence production when the
market or state becomes oppressive. She claims that by ignoring peasant
interdependence and refusing to disaggregate, Hyden misses the key to
social stratification and differentiation, class formation, and agricultural
transition that is occurring in Africa today. Because the economy of affec-
tion excludes social differences of allkinds, including those based on gen-
der, Hyden is forced to ignore women's productive rules andgenderea-
tions in production and consumption.-he concludes that we are ill
advised to continue to ignore gender differences, and should not look to
the economy of affection paradigm for help in tracking structural adjust-
ment programs in the short run or understanding the transformation of
African rural economies in the long run.

Gladwin 19

Where Do We Go from Here?
In conclusion, we address more practical questions. Can the most nega-
tive effects of structural adjustment policies on women and their families
be mitigated, and how? What are the steps being taken by African women
themselves to solve the crisis they're facing? What, if anything, can train-
ing and extension programs for women do to help African women farm-
ers and traders as producers through this crisis? What, if anything, are
African universities and the international donor agencies doing? Are there
long-term solutions to the basic problem of gender-blindness that devel-
opment experts are riddled with, and that leads them to design projects
which deny equal access to women farmers and so impact negatively on
them? The last four papers offer different answers to these practical and
fundamental questions.
Trager, an anthropologist at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and
Osinulu, African-American Institute, Nigeria, describe how Nigerian
women themselves have responded to the structural adjustment crisis.
They claim there has been a recent renaissance of women's nongovern-
mental organizations (NGOs) in Nigeria in the era of structural adjust-
ment programs and resulting cut-backs in government services in health
and family planning programs, income-generating projects, literacy and
education activities. Because the Nigerian government does not have the
capacity to undertake all development activities, especially in local areas
and remote regions, a variety of NGOs, especially women's NGOs, have
come to be seen as increasingly important. The authors examine their
activities, evaluate their impact in the era of SAPs, and analyze their prob-
lems. They conclude that the impact of women's organizations on the
development process should be significant, because local women's
increased access to information and resources through links with interme-
diary organizations is a key ingredient to local development. But they
warn it is too soon to know if such organizations can counter the negative
impacts of structural adjustment; and there is also the danger of too
much being expected of them. Just as government before structural
adjustment was expected to do everything, women's organizations may
erroneously be expected to solve all development problems.
Olayiwole, Principal of the Samaru College of Agriculture, Ahmadu
Bello University, Nigeria, then describes how an African university is
training both extension agents and rural women how to cope with the
new realities of structural adjustment and the economic crisis. She first
describes the farming activities of both Muslim and non-Muslim women
in northern Nigeria. Then she describes the changes in the education of
home economics agents at her agricultural college--changes away from

20 Introduction

traditional skills of cooking and sewing to the more relevant agricultural
skills modern farm women need. In line with Nigeria's Better Life
Programme, home economics agents are now taught to work with
women to improve the economic welfare of themselves and their families.
Smith and Taylor, University of Florida, then look at the crucial ques-
tion of how to train an educated African elite to work with lower-strata
women farmers. Both home economists, they ask whether a disciplinary
home economics program is the best way to prepare students for future
work with women farmers; their answer is "no." They suggest that disci-
plinary programs are not adequate to prepare students to address the
many overlapping needs of women farmers in the areas of soil fertility,
water use, animal husbandry, forest products use, food storage, nutrition,
health, and marketing. They recommend that African faculty themselves
decide the future direction of their curricula, and provide an example of a
curriculum-planning process that was used successfully at the University
Centre at Dschang (UCD), Cameroon; and they take us step by step
through this decision process. The result was a set of recommendations
for establishing a broad-based multidisciplinary program in Women and
Agricultural Households at UCD. The program hopes to bridge both
social and technical aspects of agriculture by examining rural women's
needs and integrating courses addressing those needs into the nation's pri-
mary agricultural institution.
At the donor agency level, the impact of adjustment programs on
women is also being discussed and evaluated by the World Bank, the
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), various multinational and
bilateral agencies, USAID, and by the affected governments themselves.
What should they do? The Commonwealth Secretariat (1989) proposes a
six-fold strategy. It first asks that national governments and international
agencies broaden their approach to structuraladjustment so as to (1)
clearly incorporate women's concerns in basic objectives of adjustment
and (2) take account of women's special needs in andcontribution to eco-
nomic production, household management, child rearing and caring, and
community organization. As part of this strategy, it asks that women's
access to credit and key services, including employment, be enhanced in
order to increase their opportunities for remunerative and productive
work, and that education be given a priority in the 1990s to advance the
longer term picture. It focuses on institutionalizing women's concerns
though strengthening government and other official machinery in various
ways: women's bureaus in strategic areas, women's units in key economic
ministries, and "elementary and administrative committees to review leg-

Gladwin 21

isolation and programs." A fourth strategy focuses on external and internal
funding mechanisms to target and increase support for women during
adjustment programs. A fifth strategy encourages (1) the provision of
"accurate, regular and prompt gender disaggregated data on critical social
and economic indicators, including access to land and credit, rates of
employment and earnings, levels of education, morbidity, mortality and
nutrition ..."; (2) the monitoring of the impact of structural adjustment
programs; and (3) the carrying out of case studies and surveys. Finally,
the Commonwealth Group wishes to initiate an international meeting
with appropriate United Nations organizations "to seek consensus on
policy goals ... that reflect women's interests" (Commonwealth Secretariat
1989: 10).
Is the Commonwealth Secretariat's list of recommendations a wish list?
Are their strategies feasible to follow, or even already in place in some
donor agencies? Spring and Wilde of FAO's Women in Agricultural
Production and Rural Development Service provide a partial answer by
describing FAO programs which link perspectives on structural adjust-
ment with action programs for women farmers. FAO activities include
three types: collaboration with multilateral and bilateral agencies includ-
ing the Social Dimensions of Adjustment (SDA) Project in Africa, advice
and assistance to member governments including policy and action pro-
jects, and studies that review the adjustment process and disaggregate its
impacts. FAO's Plan of Action for the Integration of Women in Develop-
ment is also discussed, as are FAO staff training programs which are long-
term solutions to the problem of gender-blindness in the design of devel-
opment projects.

Bates, Robert
1981 Markets and States in Tropical Africa. Berkeley: University of Cali-
fornia Press.
Boserup, Ester
1970 Women's Role in Economic Development. New York: St. Martin's
Cohen, Ronald
1989 The Unimodal Model: Solution or Cul de Sac for Rural Develop-
ment. Food and Farm: Current Debates and Policies, C. Gladwin and
K. Truman, eds. Monographs in Economic Anthropology, No. 7.
Lantham, MD: University Press of America.
Commonwealth Secretariat
1989 Engendering Adjustment for the 1990s. Report of a Commonwealth
Expert Group on Women and Structural Adjustment. London:
Commonwealth Secretariat.

22 Introduction

Dixon, Ruth
1982 Women in Agriculture: Counting the Labor Force in Developing
Countries. Population and Development Review 8(3): 558-559.
Due, Jean M.
1986 Agricultural Policy in Tropical Africa: Is a Turnaround Possible?"
Agricultural Economics 1: 19-34.
Elson, Diane
1989 The Impact of Structural Adjustment on Women: Concepts and
Issues. The IME the World Bank, and the African Debt, Vol. 2, Bade
Onimode, ed. London/New Jersey: Zed Books.
Gladwin, Christina, and Della McMillan
1989 Is a Turnaround in Africa Possible Without Helping African
Women to Farm? Economic Development and Culture Change 37(2):
Hyden, Goran
1983 No Shortcuts to Progress. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Johnston, Bruce, and Roger Kilby
1975 Agriculture and Structural Transformation. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Staudt, Kathleen
1987 Uncaptured or Unmotivated? Women and the Food Crisis in Africa.
Rural Sociology 52(1): 37-55.
Timmer, C. Peter, Walter Falcon, and Scott Pearson
1983 Food Policy Analysis. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Tinker, Irene
1976 The Adverse Impact of Development on Women. Women and World
Development, I. Tinker and M. Bramsen, eds. Washington, D.C.:
Overseas Development Council.
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
1989 African Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Programs for
Socio-Economic Recovery and Transformation, E/ECA/
CM. 15/6/Rev.3. New York: United Nations.
World Bank
1981 Accelerated Development in sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action.
Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

Structural Adjustment and

Structural Adjustment and
Structural Transformation in
Sub-Saharan Africa

Stephen O'Brien

... it would be extremely helpful if those who deal in the
language of economic development could find a way to ease
the term "structural adjustment" out of common usage. It is
a misleading term because it implies a one-time set of
changes with a one-time result.... In fact, what is at issue is
general economic policy. True "adjustment" is in fact an
ongoing process of framing good policies, ... more rational
decision making procedures and strengthened policy mak-
ing institutions. In this sense, poor countries, like rich ones,
are never beyond adjustment (Berg 1989: 28).

Economists define the process of economic development as combining
growth (rising income or GNP per capital) and structural transformation
(change in the productive structure of the economy). This development
objective, embodying growth with structural transformation of the econ-
omy, was the one adopted by almost every African government following
independence. In virtually every instance it was pursued through a pro-
gram of import substitution industrialization led by direct state invest-
ment in the productive sectors, particularly in modern manufacturing.
The results of this development strategy have been disappointing and,
coupled with adverse external circumstances in the 1970s and 1980s, have
necessitated structural adjustment reforms.
Why? To understand the causal process and historical circumstances, I

Stephen O'Brien is Chief Economist, Africa Region, the World Bank. He was edu-
cated in the Economics Dept., Stanford University, and has taught at Williams
College, the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford, and the Institute of
Administration of the University of Ife, Nigeria. He has 17 years of experience work-
ing in Africa for the Bank: as a Country Economist for Ethiopia and Tanzania, a
Senior Economist supervising economic work on Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Zambia,
Zimbabwe, and Malawi, and the Chief Economist of the West Africa Region of the
Bank. Currently, he is Chief Economist of the Africa Region.


26 Structural Adjustment and Structural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

first describe the relevance of structural transformation in the develop-
ment process. I then turn to the history of development policies in sub-
Saharan Africa. Finally I discuss structural adjustment programs (SAPs)
and their causes, as well as counter criticisms of SAPs by the United
Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA 1989). I conclude that,
while the verdict is still out on structural adjustment policies and pro-
grams, they alone do not ensure economic development in sub-Saharan
Africa. Structural adjustment, while necessary, is not a sufficient condi-
tion for development to occur (World Bank 1989a: 62). Rather, struc-
tural transformation is essential to development.

Structural Transformation
The structure of the African economy defines the essential features
of Africa's central problem of underdevelopment. The major prob-
lems of mass poverty, food shortage, low productivity, weak produc-
tive base and backward technology ... arise from the structures of
production, consumption, technology, employment and socio-polit-
ical organization.... Several other problems such as inflationary
pressures, instability of export earnings, balance of payments
deficits, rising debt burden ... serve to aggravate the crisis. They are
the direct results of the lack of structural transformation. . (ECA
1989: 1)

What is normally implied by structural transformation is a decline in
the relative importance of the primary (agricultural) sector in both total
output and employment, as shown in Table 1-1, and a rise in the share of
the secondary (manufacturing) sector. The tertiary or services sector,
including government, generally increases slightly in relative importance
in the early stages of development, and then more significantly in the later
stages; but more relevant is the internal shift from low productivity,
largely informal sector activities to modern communications, transporta-
tion, finance, insurance, etc. This internal transformation from tradi-
tional, low productivity lines of production to more modern, capital-
intensive production processes also takes place over time within the
primary and secondary sectors, through a change in the product mix and
in the technology of production.
Chenery, who coined the term structural transformation, states that
"economic development can be viewed as a set of interrelated changes in
the structure of an economy that are required for its continued growth

O'Brien 27

Table 1-1. Share of Agricultural Sector in GDP
According to Income Level.
Agricultural Value Added Average GNP Per Capita
6-10 percent $3,000
10-20 percent 1,870
20-30 percent 580
30+ percent 290
Source: World Bank 1988: 16.

.. [and which] ... involve the composition of demand, production and
employment as well as the external structure of trade and capital flows.
Taken together, these structural changes define the transformation of a
traditional to a modern economic system" (Chenery 1979: xvi).
Structural transformation is also accompanied by rising shares of domes-
tic savings and investment in GDP, usually by an increase in the share of
production devoted to exports and in the diversity of exported commodi-
ties and services.
Historical evidence shows that virtually every country which has expe-
rienced sustained growth, and thereby moved from low to middle to high
income status, has undergone this type of transformation. "Successful
development in virtually all countries has been characterized by an
increase in the share of manufacturing in total output. This structural
change is both a cause and an effect of rising income" (Chenery 1979:
Why is structural transformation an essential component of long-run
development? First, the structure of demand changes with development,
due to different income elasticities of demand for different commodities.
In essence, food consumption declines as a share of expenditure with ris-
ing incomes (Engel's law). The highest rates of growth of consumption
relative to income are found in processed food products, manufactured
goods, and (modern) services. In order to respond to this changing pat-
tern of demand, an economy should experience a corresponding change
in productive capacity. This changing structure of production is also
related to productivity change-to differential levels of productivity and
rates of productivity growth across sectors. In simple terms, the secondary
and (modern) tertiary sectors experience higher rates of productivity
growth and factors of production gravitate to sectors where their produc-
tivity is highest.

28 Structural Adjustment and Structural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

Of course, a developing economy could continue to produce primary
products and export them while importing manufactures, but this ignores
the opportunities for responding to changing demand patterns in external
markets. In fact, changes in the pattern of external trade over time have
generally been even more pronounced than changes in domestic demand.
"Taken together, the changes in the composition of domestic demand and
trade both produce a relative decline in the demand for primary products
and a relative rise in the demand for manufactured goods" (Chenery
1979: 79).

Economic Development of Sub-Saharan Africa, The
Historical Record

The overall economic performance of sub-Saharan Africa during
1965-1987 is summarized in Table 1-2. These statistics cover the period
from the early years of post-independence for most of sub-Saharan Africa
up to the most recent year for which aggregated data are available.
If we look first at the 1965-1980 period, prior to the 1980s decade of
economic crisis and structural adjustment, we note that overall economic
growth was reasonably satisfactory, almost 6 percent per annum, up to the
first "oil shock" of 1973. Population growth was already high, greater than
2.5 percent per annum, but there was sufficient margin between economic
growth and population growth to provide for a healthy rate of growth of per
capital incomes. Personal consumption levels were rising and undoubtedly
economic welfare was improving for the majority of Africans. Following the
first oil shock there was a marked falling off in the pace of economic growth
while, at the same time, the population growth rate was accelerating. The
growth rate in per capital production turned negative in the second half of
the 1970s, and income and consumption per capital stagnated.

Table 1-2. Growth Rates of GDP, Population,
and GNP Per Capita, 1965-1987.
(Average Annual Percentage Growth Rate)
1965-73 1973-80 1980-87
GDP 5.9 2.5 0.5
Population 2.6 2.8 3.1
GNP Per Capita 2.9 0.1 -2.8
Source: World Bank 1989: 221, 222, 269.

O'Brien 29

Table 1-3. Sectoral Shares in GDP at Current Prices.
1965 1980 1987
Agriculture 43 30 34
Industry (including mining) 18 33 28
(Manufacturing) (9) (9) (10)
Services 39 37 39
Source: World Bank 1989: 224-225.

Perhaps of equal importance, there was little or no structural transfor-
mation of sub-Saharan economies of the sort discussed above. This fact is
illustrated by the data presented in Tables 1-3 and 1-4.
At first glance some of the figures in Tables 1-3 and 1-4 would appear
to be inconsistent with the conclusion that Africa did not undergo the
beginning of structural transformation which is normally associated with
long-term development. There was, in fact, a marked decline in the share
of agricultural production between 1965 and 1980, and a corresponding
rise in the share of the secondary or industrial sector broadly defined.
However, closer examination reveals that this shift was almost entirely due
to the boom in the oil industry, whose output is included within the min-
ing sector. There was no growth at all in the share of manufacturing in
GDP, despite the extensive investments made by most African govern-
ments in the establishment of modern manufacturing enterprises. In
terms of global comparisons, sub-Saharan Africa's share of world manu-
facturing value added stagnated, increasing imperceptibly from a minus-

Table 1-4. Structure of Demand and Percentage Shares in
Final Expenditure.
1965 1980 1987
Consumption 82 79 87
(Government) (10) (13) (16)
(Private Consumption) (72) (66) (71)
Gross Domestic Investment 14 20 16
Gross Domestic Savings 14 22 13
Exports (goods and NFS) 22 26 26
Source: World Bank 1989: 165.

30 Structural Adjustment and Structural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

cule 0.7 percent to 0.8 percent between 1960 and 1975 (Meier and Steel
1989: 48). The expansion which took place was heavily concentrated in
food processing, textiles, and clothing. There was little backward integra-
tion to domestic raw materials or intermediate products. During the sec-
ond half of the 1970s the steam seemed to run out of the domestic man-
ufacturing sector in most of sub-Saharan Africa; capacity exceeded
domestic demand in many sub-sectors and Africa's highly protected infant
industries couldn't break into export markets because of their high cost
Other trends were occurring which might appear to have reflected or
supported the beginning of structural transformation, specifically the
increases in domestic investment and saving during the 1970s. However,
a significant proportion of this increase was occurring in the so-called
"middle-income oil-exporting" countries, led by Nigeria, which were
reaping and spending a tremendous oil-based windfall gain during the
1973-80 period.' In low-income Africa the increase in shares of domestic
saving and investment was much more modest. More important, the pro-
ductivity of investment was declining dramatically during the second half
of the 1970s, as is clearly borne out by the simple comparison of a 20 per-
cent investment rate with an economic growth rate falling to only 2.5 per-
cent on average (in economist's terms, an incremental capital-output ratio
some 4-5 times that prevailing in the 1960s). The low-productivity
investment of the 1970s was not laying the ground for sustainable growth
into the subsequent decades.
More important trends support the conclusion that, during the first
two post-independence decades, sub-Saharan Africa was not undergoing
structural transformation. In the external sector, export volumes were
stagnating during the 1970s and Africa's share of world trade was declin-
ing. Sub-Saharan Africa's share of world exports fell from 3 percent in the
early 1950s and 2.7 percent in 1960, to 2.4 percent in 1980 and 1.7 per-
cent in 1985 (Svedberg 1987: 4). Africa's share of developing country
exports also declined, from almost 14 percent in 1960 to 7 percent in
1985 (ibid.). In fact, sub-Saharan Africa lost world market shares in
almost all of the primary products which were important at the time of
independence; even more unfortunate was the fact that these export prod-
ucts in which Africa was losing ground were not replaced by new prod-
ucts. The continued dependence of Africa on primary product exports,
and its relatively greater degree of dependence than other low-income
developing countries, is shown in Table 1-5.
Within African countries also there was little or no export diversifica-

O'Brien 31

tion. In fact, for many countries there was increasing export concentra-
tion-the shares of the few leading primary product exports in total
export earnings rose, thus making these economies even more vulnerable
to the swings in external markets. Sub-Saharan Africa's vulnerability to
external markets was also unfortunately increased by the policy of import
substitution industrialization since there was little or no development of
backward linkages to domestic sources of supply. Additionally, few
African countries were able to diversify into the downstream processing of
their primary products.
What were the primary causes for this failure of development through
structural transformation in the early decades of post-independence? The
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) lists a number
of factors, emphasizing the extreme disadvantages imposed by Africa's ini-
tial conditions (the narrow production base with the predominance of
subsistence farming, the lack of economic infrastructure, weak human
resources and institutional capabilities, political fragmentation, lack of
entrepreneurship and capital resources), as well as the adverse effects of an
unfavorable external environment-Africa's excessive dependence on the
external market in light of the wide swings in prices of primary product
producers, growing protectionism in developed countries, the growing
burden of external debt at high and fluctuating real interest rates-while
giving less emphasis to domestic policy weaknesses (neglect of the agricul-
Stural sector or "urban bias," neglect of the informal sector, lack of consis-
tency in domestic policies) (ECA, 1989: chapter 1).
The World Bank, while acknowledging the severe constraints imposed
by Africa's initial conditions and the slow pace of improvement despite
often heroic efforts, especially in human resource development and insti-
tutional strengthening, has given greater stress to domestic policy short-

Table 1-5. Structure of Exports.
All Low-Income
Export Sub-Saharan Africa Developing Countries
1965 1980 1987 1965 1980 1987
Fuels, minerals,
metals 34 71 47 22 58 29
Other primary
commodities 58 25 39 53 23 22
Total 92 96 86 75 81 51
Source: World Bank 1989: 194-195.

32 Structural Adjustment and Structural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

comings. This analysis is contained in a lengthy series of World Bank spe-
cial studies on sub-Saharan Africa published during the 1980s (World
Bank 1981, 1984, 1986). The World Bank is in agreement with the ECA
that neglect of the agricultural sector has been a fundamental flaw in the
development strategy of sub-Saharan Africa. The combination of overval-
lued exchange rates, government monopolies of export crop marketing,
often through inefficient and high cost crop-marketing parastatals, and
price controls on domestic food crops-designed to hold down the cost
of living of the urban worker-are negative production incentives for
farmers. These more than offset the positive incentive effects of subsidized
inputs such as fertilizer and credit. The result was a rate of agricultural
growth of less than 2 percent per annum, insufficient to feed the rapidly
growing population. Low agricultural production led to growing food
imports, stagnation of agricultural export volumes and the loss of export
markets referred to above. In addition, the stagnant or slowly growing
rural incomes could not provide a dynamic market for the manufacturing
sector, nor could primary product exports generate sufficient foreign
exchange earnings to finance the import requirements of the modern
manufacturing sector. It is today well understood that a healthy agricul-
tural sector is an essential underpinning to dynamic industrial growth,
but this critical linkage was absent in Africa during the 1960s and 1970s.
The World Bank also stressed the negative developmental impact of
wage and price distortions across all sectors of the economy and focused
in particular on the effects of persistently overvalued exchange rates.
These overvalued exchange rates make imported capital goods and inputs
relatively cheap in comparison with domestically produced substitutes
and domestic labor, as well as introducing an "anti-export" bias.
Investment in overly capital-intensive manufacturing enterprises was par-
ticularly true of public sector firms (Meier and Steel 1989: 90). These
biases in pricing and exchange rate policy, as well as heavy reliance on
direct allocation by government of imports, domestic inputs, and credit,
limited the possibilities for "spread effects" from industrialization-few
linkages developed between the largely publicly owned, large-scale manu-
facturing sector and the small-scale "informal" sector. Thus there grew up
in much of Africa a dualistic economy-an embryonic modern, capital-
intensive, enclave sector in mining, manufacturing, or plantation agricul-
ture alongside a labor-intensive, low capital-using, low-level technology,
traditional sector encompassing both peasant agriculture and urban infor-
mal activities. Without the establishment of linkages there was little push
or pull to expand or improve the small-scale sector. This dualism has been

O'Brien 33

characterized in the most recent World Bank study as the phenomenon of
the "missing middle" (World Bank 1989a: 29).

Experience during the 1980s-The Decade of
Structural Adjustment

Much of the developing world has been in crisis since 1979/80. The prox-
imate cause of the crisis was failure to adjust adequately to the two oil
"shocks" of 1973/74 and 1979/80, and to the other global economic
changes which ensued from these shocks. Most developing countries
made certain policy errors of the sort outlined above, undertook invest-
ment projects which in retrospect cannot be economically justified, and
borrowed heavily abroad to finance both investment and consumption
expenditures. Sub-Saharan Africa was particularly vulnerable to the eco-
nomic crisis of the late 1970s/early 1980s because its still fragile and vul-
nerable economies had not achieved diversification and structural trans-
formation. Other negative factors which particularly impacted Africa, but
which were perhaps less clearly perceived in the early 1980s, included the
growing competition from other developing countries in Africa's primary
export markets, a comparative disadvantage in transportation and com-
munications facilities, a redirection of foreign private investment away
from developing countries but away from Africa in particular, and a
decline in aid flows to Africa from the Middle East oil-exporting nations.
In sub-Saharan Africa the impact of the economic crisis was broad and
deep; hardly any African country was unaffected. For sub-Saharan Africa
as a whole, economic output stagnated-between 1980 and 1986 real
GDP increased at only 0.2 percent per annum on average. With popula-
tion growing at 3.2 percent per annum, GDP per capital was falling at 3
percent per year, representing a cumulative decline of over 20 percent
during this period. Per capital consumption was falling at a comparable
rate. Other economic magnitudes evidenced similar adverse trends:
export volumes, after stagnating in the 1970s, fell by 0.5 percent per year;
import volumes fell even more sharply, by over 5 percent annually;
domestic investment declined as a share of GDP and domestic savings fell
even more sharply (Table 1-4). Africa's plight was aggravated by sharply
declining terms of trade after 1984, by a net reduction in external
resource inflows, and by a mounting external debt burden. Even more
threatening to Africa's long-term development prospects was the deterio-
ration in the quantity and quality of social services-health, education,

34 Structural Adjustment and Structural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

sanitation, water supply-and in social indicators brought on by the eco-
nomic crisis.
As the economic crisis spread and deepened, more and more develop-
ing countries, unable to sustain the economic and financial imbalances
they were experiencing, were forced to undertake remedial measures. The
term "structural adjustment" has been universally adopted as the label for
these programs of policy reform which countries have pursued in their
efforts to adjust to changes in the world economy. Many definitions of
structural adjustment can be found; here we cite as our authority Elliot
Berg, principal author of the World Bank (1981) report on sub-Saharan
For most economists [structural adjustment] means changing the
structure of production so that the adjusting economy produces
more tradeables-import substitutes and exports . Restoring
equilibrium to the balance of payments is still an important element
in the theory and practice of structural adjustment. But nowadays
the concept is usually defined more broadly-it means the adoption
of measures designed to make an economy more productive, more
flexible and more dynamic by using available resources more effi-
ciently and by generating new resources. The importance of domes-
tic policy deficiencies is more explicitly recognized. In terms of spe-
cific policy content, structural adjustment in the 1980s has
invariably meant the introduction of more market-oriented poli-
cies-liberalization of markets, more efficient use of prices, greater
openness, and a bigger role for the private sector (Berg 1989: 1-2).

Structural adjustment thus embodies stabilization-the reduction of
budget and balance of payments deficits through fiscal and monetary
measures-but also relies on more intensive use of the private sector
(through, for example, deregulation, contracting out of certain public ser-
vices, divestiture of nonstrategic public enterprises), removal of exchange
rate and other biases against exports, closer alignment of domestic prices
with world prices, and rationalization of public sector institutions. The
underlying hypothesis is that removing distortions and providing proper
incentives to the private sector would: a) lead to a recovery of production
from presently underutilized productive capacity (in the economist's
terms a move out to the production possibility curve); b) achieve a more
efficient use of resources by moving to the point on the production possi-
bility curve where the production mix is consistent with opportunity
costs measured in world prices; and c) promote a higher rate of invest-
ment which would expand production capacity (shifting out the produc-
tion possibility curve itself over time).

O'Brien 35

Common Criticisms of Structural Adjustment Programs
There are now some 30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa which are under-
taking, or have attempted at some time during the 1980s, programs of
structural adjustment. In virtually all cases these reform efforts have been
supported by structural adjustment lending (quick-disbursing loans for
balance of payments support) from the World Bank, the International
Monetary Fund, and other multilateral and bilateral donors. These
Bank/Fund-supported adjustment programs in Africa have become
highly visible and have generated debate and controversy. One of the
sharpest critics has been the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA
1989: chapter 2). Some of the most common criticisms leveled at struc-
tural adjustment programs in Africa have been the following:
1. Structural adjustment programs have been imposed on African gov-
ernments which are not really committed to their implementation.
2. Structural adjustment programs have ignored or given insufficient
attention to the social costs of adjustment, especially to the impact of
adjustment measures on the poor and "vulnerable groups."
3. Stabilization and structural adjustment programs together have
failed in their immediate objective of restoring economic growth in the
short to medium run; stabilization, with its emphasis on controlling
excess demand, counter balances structural adjustment, which emphasizes
supply expansion. C ', -- ,e
4. These programs rely excessively on markets and private sector
response to market signals; this faith in laissez-faire is misplaced in Africa
given the absence of entrepreneurs, small market size which fosters the
monopolization of markets, lack of information systems necessary for the
efficient functioning of markets, and the noncompetitive nature of many
global markets confronting African producers and consumers. Low-sup-
ply elasticities in agriculture are cited as the main reason why reliance on
price signals to stimulate an agricultural supply response is doomed to
5. Finally, and of greater relevance for this paper, it is argued that exist-
ing structural adjustment programs, partly but not entirely because of
their reliance on the private sector, cannot generate the long-run develop-
ment with structural transformation that Africa needs. The criticism is
advanced that structural adjustment programs, as currently designed, do
not address the economic constraints earlier identified-low levels of
technology and human resource skills, small and fragmented markets,
weak infrastructure, lack of capital and entrepreneurship, weak institu-
tions, and adverse external environment. Nor do they address rapid pop-
ulation growth or other constraints to long-run development-limited

36 Structural Adjustment and Structural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

natural resources, poor soils, harsh and variable climatic conditions, envi-
ronmental degradation. Furthermore, it is argued that most of these
structural obstacles cannot be addressed through market forces; rather
they require direct governmental action programs.


A full discussion of these or other criticisms of structural adjustment is
beyond the scope of this paper. These questions have been debated in
innumerable seminars over the past few years and have been taken up in a
series of World Bank reports (World Bank 1986, 1988; World Bank and
UNDP 1989a). However, a brief response will be given to each of the first
four points, and a more detailed response to point (5).
1. The first criticism, that adjustment programs have been "imposed"
from outside, has validity in a certain sense: African countries have usually
not willingly adopted these economic reform programs. Most developing
country governments, African as well as others, have attempted to stave
off belt tightening as long as possible through continued external borrow-
ing, domestic money creation and, in more than a few cases, through
arrears accumulation. Only when all else failed were stabilization and
structural adjustment programs introduced. But this took place when the
economic and financial crisis was already producing a downward spiral.
Food prices were already rising faster than wages as farmers sought to
avoid taxation by shifting to other activities or selling in parallel markets.
Real wages in the public sector were already falling due to the combined
effects of overmanning and reduced fiscal revenues. At the same time
recurrent budgets could not meet the nonwage costs of essential public
services after paying wages of public servants and interest on the public
debt. Overvalued exchange rates led to reduced export volumes, declining
availability of foreign exchange, reduced imports through the official mar-
ket, and a growing premium on ever-scarcer foreign exchange in the par-
allel market. The emphasis on import-substitution industrialization had
led to industrial stagnation, as mentioned earlier; countries were bur-
dened with highly inefficient, protected, import-dependent industrial
sectors, usually subsidized and incapable of competing in external mar-
kets. The growth of the public sector in the 1960s and 1970s had also led
to an impasse. Government budgets were absorbing an unsustainable
share of GDP; the growth of state enterprises had led most often not to
profitable operations and high public savings and investment rates, but to
dependence on subsidies which added to budget deficits. The regulatory

O'Brien 37

systems, which were supposed to protect the vulnerable, most often bene-
fited the rich and powerful more than the poor. They induced corruption,
and often stifled enterprise.
While it is true that the IMF and World Bank have played major roles
in the design of stabilization and adjustment programs, and bilateral
donors are increasingly adopting policy conditionality as the basis for
their own structural adjustment loans, most of the measures adopted were
dictated by the nature and severity of the crisis and the absence of other
means for addressing domestic and external imbalances.2 What has been
true in a number of cases is that programs have been rushed; that is, they
have been recommended and adopted in response to the immediate crisis
without adequate time for analysis, reflection, or building up the three
essential "Cs" within governments-comprehension, consensus, and
commitment. This lesson has been well learned over the decade of the
1980s: adjustment programs are doomed to fail if governments are not
committed, if they do not accept "ownership" of the program. At present
much more effort is being devoted to developing this commitment or
ownership. The Policy Framework Paper, which is a statement of the gov-
ernment's policy reform program over the coming three years, and which
is produced as a joint product of government, IMF, and World Bank, is an
important instrument in developing this consensus. To date some 25
countries in sub-Saharan Africa have entered into Policy Framework
agreements with the IMF and World Bank, and these agreements have
underpinned virtually all of the structural adjustment programs in low-
income Africa. Another factor which mitigates the possibility of rushed or
imposed adjustment programs is that almost all adjusting countries have
by now negotiated from one to several repeat or follow-up adjustment
programs with the IMF and World Bank.
2. On the issue of the social dimensions of adjustment, it is now recog-
nized that early adjustment programs gave insufficient attention to the
social aspects. One reason for this was the general tendency to underesti-
mate the time required to restore the momentum of economic growth. In
the early 1980s it was widely believed that the period of adjustment to the
immediate crisis would be no more than 3-5 years; therefore, the empha-
sis should be on correcting economic and financial imbalances. Once the
economy was back on a positive per capital income growth track there
would be time to turn again to the longer term issue of poverty reduction.
It was also generally held that the economic crisis itself was largely respon-
sible for any negative social welfare impacts which the population was
experiencing, that adjustment per se would have generally positive social

38 Structural Adjustment and Structural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

effects, particularly through a reduction in "urban bias" and a stimulus to
rural incomes. It was assumed that any social costs which did arise would
be short-run or transitional in nature, and that the costs of nonadjust-
ment would far outweigh those of adjustment in any event.
As the adjustment process has extended throughout the 1980s and into
the 1990s, it has come to be well understood that social effects cannot be
ignored over such an extended period, whether on balance the social
impact be positive or negative. Credit for giving the initial emphasis to
the social aspects of adjustment should go to UNICEF (1987). The result
has been a significant change in the content and focus of structural
adjustment programs, in essence to build in the social dimensions in every
reform effort. To strengthen the positive impact of adjustment on social
programs and on the poor, the World Bank is increasingly focusing on
reforms of social policies, on improving data collection to monitor the
effects of adjustment on the poor and vulnerable groups, and to improve
policy design. It is focusing on designing special interventions to mitigate
the short-term burdens of adjustment on the poor, and on social sector
adjustment loans and projects to address major social objectives during
periods of protracted adjustment. The Social Dimensions of Adjustment
Project (SDA), initiated in 1986 by the World Bank, UNDP, and African
Development Bank and supported by numerous other donors, is working
to improve the volume and quality of data on social effects of adjustment
which can then be used to design better adjustment programs which
address social problems (World Bank 1990). Some 27 African countries
are already participating in the SDA program and active SDA projects
will be underway in 15 countries by mid-1990.
Although increasing attention is now being paid to the social dimen-
sions of adjustment, more should be done. A clear task for the future is to
further strengthen the link between sustained adjustment and higher con-
sumption and improved social conditions. Higher external aid flows can
help achieve this goal. But equally important are improved programs of
government spending, which focus a larger share of public resources on
well-targeted social programs and provide the right incentives for effective
implementation of these programs.
3. With regard to the charge that "orthodox" structural adjustment
programs have failed to restore the momentum of economic growth in the
short to medium run, it must be acknowledged that this is a difficult
question to answer. It involves choice of time periods for comparison
(defining before and after adjustment periods, what time lags to allow
for); choice of groups of countries to be compared (adjusting vs. nonad-
justing); what allowance to make for the strength of adjustment efforts,

O'Brien 39

how to classify well-managed economies which have avoided crisis;
whether to use weighted or unweighted averages for country groupings;
how to allow for variations in the external environment, weather, shocks;
and, perhaps most important, how to link policy reform measures to eco-
nomic outcomes (attribution of causality). Numerous efforts have been
made to answer many of these questions, including in particular a World
Bank/UNDP (1989a) study on the impact of adjustment. The evidence
to date is mixed, but there are clear signs that the economic decline is bot-
toming out and a gradual recovery is beginning for sub-Saharan Africa,
and also that adjusting countries are doing better than the rest. For all of
sub-Saharan Africa the annual rate of GDP growth has improved from
0.2 percent in 1980-86 to 1.5 percent in 1986-89, reaching 2.8 percent in
1988 and an estimated 3.1 percent in 1989. For low-income African
countries, the improvement has been from 1.4 percent in 1980-86 to 3.5
percent in 1986-89. More significantly, the group of 22 low-income
countries undertaking structural adjustment programs has achieved an
annual growth rate of 4.3 percent during 1988-89.
These figures on overall economic growth performance could be sup-
plemented by additional data on sectoral growth rates and export growth,
but a detailed analysis of very recent economic performance is beyond the
scope of this paper. In addition, it is still too soon to judge the outcome of
structural adjustment programs: the verdict is still out. The vast majority of
sub-Saharan African countries now undertaking programs of structural
adjustment only began their reform efforts in 1985-86 or thereabouts. As
we have already seen, the adjustment path has proven to be a long and dif-
ficult one; therefore, results based on only two to three years of reforms
should be regarded as highly provisional. We do, however, have the case of
Ghana, which has been undertaking structural adjustment since 1983
and which has experienced sustained economic growth in the range of
5-6 percent per year for some six to seven years, as evidence of the posi-
tive effects of sustained adjustment. In addition, there is considerable
variation in the effectiveness with which adjustment programs have been
pursued in sub-Saharan Africa. Some countries such as Ghana have
implemented reform programs in a sustained manner over several years
while others have experienced difficulties in following through on
intended reforms or have even been forced to abandon their reform
efforts. It must also be emphasized that these aggregate growth rates are
still barely equal to, or only slightly in excess of, the rate of population
growth. Per capital incomes remain stagnant or are rising imperceptibly.
At this pace it would require decades even to return per capital incomes to
the level of 1980. Africa's economic recovery is only beginning. It is clear

40 Structural Adjustment and Structural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

that the scope for improvements in economic management, economic
efficiency, and the fuller utilization of both domestic and external
resources is still great across much of sub-Saharan Africa.
4. Concerning the charge that structural adjustment programs have
relied excessively on the private sector, it must be stated categorically that
what is sought in these programs is a better balance between public and
private sector roles in African economies, not an abdication of responsi-
bility by the state. It is now generally agreed that governments have
become overextended in many African countries; a root cause of weak
economic performance in the past has been the failure of public institu-
tions. Nevertheless, governments have a critical role in developing Africa's
human resources, in providing a significantly higher level of social services
to the entire population, in rehabilitating and expanding essential infras-
tructure, and in creating the "enabling environment" for private sector
activity. At the same time the state cannot do everything and shouldn't try.
There is ample evidence of entrepreneurial talent and responsiveness to
market signals in the private sector throughout Africa, in the informal sec-
tor, in unofficial cross-border trade, in the response of peasant producers
to improved prices under liberalization programs, in the oversubscription
of share offerings in profitable public sector enterprises in Kenya and
Nigeria, and in many other examples which could be cited. Of course,
greater reliance on private markets should not lead to the simple replace-
ment of public monopolies by private ones. In this regard, the small size
of African economies can present problems. What is required is the
removal of restrictions to entry of new domestic competitors and the
gradual withdrawal of restrictions on competition from abroad (trade lib-
eralization) which should include efforts to stimulate increased trade and
thereby greater internal competition within Africa through regional inte-
In summary, the drive toward greater liberalization of African
economies is based on the hypothesis that greater efficiency can be
achieved through reliance on competitive market forces and that concen-
tration on strategically important activities will permit the state to func-
tion more effectively. What is needed, first and foremost, from the
African state is better governance-a public service that is efficient, a reli-
able legal framework for the enforcement of contracts, an administration
that is responsible to the public, transparent accounting for public
monies, and scrupulous respect for the law and human rights. These are
essential elements of the enabling environment for productive economic
activity and enhanced social welfare.
5. We turn now to the issue of structural adjustment in relationship to

O'Brien 41

structural transformation. At the outset it must be stressed, as is already
abundantly clear to all who follow Africa, that the decade of the 1980s has
not been a period of sustained growth, broad economic and social devel-
opment or structural transformation. As has been pointed out above, it
has been, until recently, a period of sharply declining incomes and thus of
declining economic and social welfare. As might be expected penrod
of economic decline, there is evidence of structure retrogression-a
declining share of the secondary Or7inustrial sector in production (due
primarily to the slump in the world oil market after 1983) with no statis-
tically significant increase in the share of manufacturing (Table 1-3). This
was accompanied by a fall in the investment/GDP ratio and an even
sharper fall in the ratio of savings to GDP (Table 1-4);3 a negative rate of
growth of export volume resulting in a reduction in the ratio of exports to
GDP from 25 percent in 1974-80 to 20 percent in 1987-89; a substan-
tially negative rate of growth of import volume and thus a declining ratio
of imports to GDP. In summary, there have been few if any positive
trends in the economy of sub-Saharan Africa over the decade of the
1980s, beyond a modest recovery in rates of GDP growth during the past
two to three years, and increasing evidence that "structurally adjusting"
countries have experienced a more significant recovery than nonadjusting
Does the evidence imply that structural adjustment cannot generate the
structural transformation which should undergird successful long-term
development in Africa? I would argue that structural adjua ent, as it is
conventionally defined somle- pt
transformation, but that it is a necessary recondition for the resumption
of sustained economic growth and for broad-based economic development
with structural transformationiover the longer term. However, as the
World Bank's (1989a) report on sub-Saharan Africa acknowledges, struc-
tural adjustment while necessary is not a sufficient condition:
The central objective of future country development strategies is to
transform production structures, to reverse the decline in institu-
tions, and to build the foundations for sustainable and equitable
growth. The recent structural adjustment programs are important
first steps in the right direction-but much more is needed ...
Future country strategies should continue to pursue adjustment
programs, which should evolve to take fuller account of the social
impact of the reforms, of investment needs to accelerate growth, and
of measures to ensure sustainability (World Bank 1989a: 62).
Programs of stabilization and structural adjustment have been primar-
ily concerned with correcting the widespread inefficiencies and distor-

42 Structural Adjustment and Structural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

tions which adversely affect the use of existing resources-overvalued
exchange rates, price controls, subsidization of inefficient production,
overmanning in the public service and public enterprises, lack of funding
for maintenance which leads to underutilization of existing capacity, and
sub-optimal allocation of public sector resources in both recurrent and
investment budgets. In the terminology of production possibility fron-
tiers discussed above, these programs have been mainly concerned with
step (a)-moving the economy out to the existing production possibility
curve. They also concern, but perhaps to a lesser degree, step (b)-the
adjustment of the economy to changed relative prices in world markets-
initially to the price of oil, today more often to the lower prices of certain
primary exports. Finally, they are concerned with establishing the pre-con-
ditions for the restoration of higher savings rates, both public and private,
and expansion of the level of investment-step (c). But each of these lat-
ter two phases requires a longer time frame than was initially envisioned
for structural adjustment.
One way of putting the argument is to state that good economic man-
agement-the efficient use of all available resources-is always to be pre-
ferred over poor management, but by itself good management of existing
resources will not produce sustained growth; rather it can only establish a
favorable climate for growth.AWhat is needed above and beyond good
policies and efficient allocation of public resources is the mobilization of
additional savings, both domestic and external, and their investment in
high yielding activities-in education for the development of skills and
managerial capabilities, in expansion of vital infrastructure, in the expan-
sion of other essential social services, and in the directly productive sectors
of agriculture, livestock, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing.
Neither growth nor structural transformation can take place without
investment, and at the present time investment in Africa is inadequate.\In
many countries of sub-Saharan Africa the present level of gross invest-
ment is too low even to maintain the existing capital stock, both public
and private-in other words, gross investment is exceeded by deprecia-
tion, with the result that net investment is negative.
Structural adjustment will not lead to self-sustaining growth and struc-
tural transformation over the long term unless this savings and investment
response can be generated, in both the public and private sectors. What
are the causal factors which can induce higher levels of saving and invest-
ment? Analysis of the determinants of savings and investment levels in
developing countries is extremely complex and beyond the scope of this

O'Brien 43

paper. However, I would like to emphasize again the importance of an
"enabling environment" which encourages productive activities in the pri-
vate sector. One of the elements of this environment is the government's
economic policy framework, both overall macroeconomic policy and spe-
cific sectoral or microeconomic policies. The initiation of a program of
economic policy reform is only the first step; the improved policy frame-
work must be sustained. The critical factors are the stability, predictabil-
ity, and transparency of the policy regime. Uncertainty increases risk and
risk increases the cost of investment. One of the most vital contributions
which African governments can make to the long-run development of the
continent (perhaps second in priority after the development of Africa's
human resources) is the establishment of a well-designed and effectively
and consistently applied economic policy framework.


Sub-Saharan Africa has not achieved either sustained economic growth or
structural transformation over the first 30 years of independence. Africa's
extremely difficult initial conditions and policy weaknesses have delayed
the structural transformation that all African countries have sought.
External circumstances have been at times supportive but at other times
adverse, and adversity has been predominant in the 1980s. Programs of
structural adjustment have been efforts at economic reform designed to
correct obvious weaknesses in policy and economic management. They
aim to enable African economies to cope more effectively with external
shocks, whether from weather, terms of trade, or other causes; and to
restart the "engine" of economic growth which has been running in neu-
tral or in reverse for too many years. Sustained adherence to programs of
economic reform has proven difficult, and the returns are slower in com-
ing than originally hoped, but there is growing evidence that reforms are
having a positive impact. Nevertheless, Africa's economic situation is still
fragile, just as African economies themselves have remained fragile. What
will be required in the future is to sustain and intensify these programs of
economic reform, whether they continue to carry the label of "structural
adjustment" or not, and to supplement them with a renewed assault on
the myriad of constraints which must be alleviated to permit sustained
growth, socioeconomic development, and the transformation of Africa's
economy over the long term.

44 Structural Adjustment and Structural Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

1. One of the difficulties in discussing statistics for sub-Saharan Africa, espe-
cially data for the oil boom years, is the tremendous weight which the
Nigerian economy carried in the overall economy of sub-Saharan Africa, as
well as the contrary trends in the economies of the oil-exporting vs. the
low-income, oil-importing economies. In 1980, for example, Nigeria
accounted for over 48 percent of the GDP of sub-Saharan Africa. With the
decline in oil prices since 1983, Nigeria's economic decline has been pre-
cipitous and dramatic; in 1986 Nigeria's weight in the overall economy of
sub-Saharan Africa had shrunk to only 28 percent.
2. "The measures associated with 'orthodox' stabilization programs are thus,
for the most part, not imposed by external agencies, but arise out of the
imperatives of domestic economic stability" (Berg 1989: 7).
3. For the low-income economies the savings ratio is even lower, having
fallen to only 7 percent of GDP in 1987 (World Bank 1989a: 227).

Berg, Elliot
1989 Structural Adjustment and Its Critics. Unpublished paper, Elliot
Berg Associates, Washington, D.C.
Chenery, Hollis
1979 Structural Change and Development Policy. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Johnston, Bruce F, and P. Kilby
1975 Agriculture and Structural Transformation: Economic Strategies in
Late-Developing Countries. New York: Oxford University Press.
Meier, Gerald M., and William E Steel
1989 Industrial Adjustment in Sub-Saharan Africa. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Svedberg, Peter
1987 The Export Performance of Sub-Saharan Africa. Institute for
International Economic Studies, University of Stockholm, and
World Institute for Development Economics Research, United
Nations University, Helsinki.
1987 Adjustment with a Human Face. Giovanni Cornia, Richard Jolly and
Francis Stewart, eds. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
1989 African Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Programs for
Socio-Economic Recovery and Transformation, E/ECA/CM.15/6/
Rev.3. New York: United Nations.
World Bank
1981 Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for
Action. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

O'Brien 45

1984 Toward Sustained Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Joint
Program ofAction. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1986 Financing Adjustment with Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1986-90.
Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1988 Report on Adjustment Lending. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989a Sub-Saharan Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Growth. Washington,
D.C.: World Bank.
1989b World Development Report 1989. New York: Oxford University
1990 Structural Adjustment and Poverty: A Conceptual, Empirical and
Policy Framework. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
World Bank and United Nations Development Program
1989a Africa's Adjustment and Growth in the 1980s, Washington, D.C.:
World Bank.
1989b African Economic and Financial Data. Washington, D.C.: World

S Women, Structural Adjustment,
and Transformation: Some
Lessons and Questions From the
African Experience

Uma Lele

The issues of structural adjustment, transformation, and the impact on
women farmers are intricately related to each other. Some specific aspects
of their interactions are beginning to be explored rigorously (Collier
1989). However, given the diversity of the problems and the many com-
peting demands on public resources, the numerous macroeconomic,
intersectoral, and microeconomic interlinkages which affect women must
be explored on a country-specific basis, especially their implications for
priority interventions.
Women contribute an estimated three-quarters of the labor required to
produce the food consumed in Africa, mostly under conditions of a prim-
itive, hand-hoe technology and low-labor productivity. Data are limited,
but suggest that 80 to 90 percent of the poor live in rural areas and that
women-headed households comprise well over one-half the rural poor
households (FAO 1985). Their children constitute by far the largest
majority of the poor. The number of such poor households is growing
rapidly in Africa, as evidenced by the accelerated growth in population
and simultaneous decline in per capital incomes for nearly a decade. The
number living in poverty is projected to double again by 2000 to 265 mil-
lion, giving Africa the claim to one of the highest concentrations of the
poor, along with South Asia (World Bank forthcoming). Although not yet

Uma Lele, Indian, is Manager of the Agriculture Policy Office of the Technical
Department in the World Bank's Africa Region. She has a Ph.D. from Cornell
University and has held positions in both research and operational complex of the
Bank including Senior Economist and Deputy Division Chief of Agriculture in the
Agriculture Division in East Africa, Senior Economist in Indonesia Country
Programs, and Chief of the Development Strategy Division (then Special Studies
Division) of the Economic Research Staff. She is grateful to Beth Porter for research
assistance and to Robert Christiansen and Barbara Herz for their comments on the
draft. The views expressed in this paper are her own and are not necessarily those of
the World Bank or its affiliated organizations.


Lele 47

well-documented (Youssef and Hetler 1983), the share of women-headed
households among the poor is also growing rapidly, according to socio-
logical literature and informal sources of information (Buvinic, Lycette,
and McGreevey 1983; Buvinic and Yudelman 1989; Rogers 1979;
Ahmad and Loutfi 1981). Agriculture is clearly a key sector in the
economies of African countries. Furthermore, growth in agricultural pro-
ductivity is critical to structural transformation, which entails change
from predominantly agriculturally based to manufacturing and service
sector-based economies. An understanding of the effects of structural
adjustment and transformation on women, particularly in facilitating
growth in agriculture, is thus essential to the long-term success of any
such programs and processes.

Structural Adjustment in Africa

The proximate cause of structural adjustment was the series of adverse
terms of trade shocks faced by the primary commodity-producing African
countries in the 1970s (World Bank 1988a). Adjustment was also made
necessary by the neglect of agriculture and expansion of the public sector,
which weakened the industrialization effort. Measures adopted since the
early 1980s in well over 30 countries aim to correct past discrimination
against the agricultural sector by improving the exchange rate, enhancing
the structure of overall incentives, and introducing fiscal discipline. Some j
countries, e.g., Nigeria and Ghana, have adopted radical reforms to cor-
rect the massive distortions. Nevertheless, the initial expectations of
donors about the speed of adjustment and the magnitude of the countries'
production responses have turned out to be overly optimistic (World
Bank 1988a). It is increasingly recognized that reforms will need to be
sustained over a considerable period of time if African economies are to
resume a sustained growth path.
Continuation of reforms over the long run poses serious sociopolitical
problems, however, because not all of the effects of adjustment are posi-
tive in the short run. Producer price adjustments have most benefited
export crops, which were often heavily taxed. Prices of food crops, on the
other hand, have been largely market determined, even when govern-
ments have had "monopoly" control of grain marketing, as the share of
informal trade in food is often quite large. In addition to the effects of
adjustment, several secular factors have also contributed to short-term
hardships. For example, food prices have been rising rapidly for nearly
two decades due to the failure of food supply to keep pace with the

48 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

growth in population and notwithstanding the rapid rise in food imports.
The number of poor households producing food crops but also relying on
the market for wage labor and subsistence food needs has been growing.
Urban consumer food subsidies, which in any case benefited only a hand-
ful of the poor and especially women, are being withdrawn.
Social indicators-which are an important measure of welfare-made
impressive strides until the end of the 1970s, especially in areas such as
access to primary and secondary education and improved rural water sup-
ply. In the 1980s, however, structural adjustment has not only entailed
sharp cuts in public expenditures on essential medical, educational, and
other services, but has also led to increased cost recovery in the form of
school fees and charges for visits to health clinics. Shortages of foreign
exchange have encouraged black markets and privileged access to essential
imported supplies such as medicines, production inputs, consumer
goods, and transport services. The adverse impact of these developments
is bound to be greater than average on poor women-headed households
who tend to have less privileged access to such special channels and may
not be able to spend the time necessary to obtain scarce goods (World
Bank 1989s). The current unsatisfactory scenario must be compared,
however, with the even worse consequences of not adjusting. Without
improvement in the overall incentive structure, fiscal discipline, and scope
for individual initiative, Africa faces the danger of a continued decline in
per capital income and an even more massive increase in poverty than
reported above. The primary issue in adjustment is thus not whether to
adjust, but the speed of adjustment and the mix of measures needed to
ensure that growth is resumed, which minimizes the burden placed on the
poorest households and which increases the labor productivity of these
households so that they can better reap the benefits of national growth.

Structural Transformation

The literature on structural transformation provides insights mainly into
the effects of economic growth on households but offers few specific
insights into the role of women both within households and in larger soci-
etal structures. Kuznets (1957, 1966) has documented a strong inverse
relationship between the proportion of the labor force in agriculture and
the level of labor productivity and income. Johnston and Mellor (1961)
and Johnston and Kilby (1975) have explored the nature of interdepen-
dence between agricultural and nonagricultural growth, noting that at an
early stage of development when agriculture contains a large share of the

Lele 49

labor force and makes a major contribution to GNP, exports, government
revenues, savings, and investments, its contribution to the growth of the
smaller, but more rapidly growing, manufacturing and the service sectors
is critical in the supply of wages, goods, labor, and capital as well as for-
eign exchange earnings. The manufacturing and service sectors that
absorb the growing rural population and provide the goods and services
to the farm sector, in turn, constitute the markets for the increased pro-
duction and productivity in the agricultural sector. Technological change
in the agricultural sector is critical for achieving constant, if not falling,
real food prices to the nonfarm sector in the course of industrialization by
increasing factor productivity and ensuring low wage costs. Several
aspects of this structural transformation process have a major impact on
First, the decline in the real price of food emphasized by the structural-
ists must be contrasted with the phenomenon of the secular rise in the real
food prices observed in Africa, a symptom of the failure of growth in fac-
tor productivity. The implications of rising food prices for poor women,
children, and households are discussed later. Second, the literature on
transformation stresses that a broad-based increase in factor productivity
involving a large number of rural households tends to lead to expenditure
patterns and growth linkages that are more conducive to rapid growth in
overall employment in the economy than when the benefits of growth in
agriculture are skewed in favor of a few households. Third, a broad-based
pattern in growth in agriculture tends to create a decentralized pattern in
the manufacturing and service sectors, resulting in growth of small towns
rather than cities, and enabling households rather than males alone to
migrate to urban areas. In contrast, the narrowly based, bimodall" pattern
of growth in agriculture prevalent in most African countries tends to offer
fewer employment opportunities generated by the capital-intensive
industries, leading to political and social pressures to generate employ-
ment in the public sector. The migration of individual males rather than
households to mines, plantations, and large-scale industrial complexes
augments the size of a few urban concentrations while increasing the
number of female-headed households in rural areas.
This paper will first document why African women play an even more
important role in the rural economy than their Asian or Latin American
counterparts, with a focus on what the special constraints are that restrict
their opportunities. It will then explore the implications of this role for
the policies which need to be pursued to support women and how devel-
opment programs actually effect them. Second, based on a recent study
completed in the World Bank,' the paper will show that African countries

50 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

which adopted sound economic policies have performed better in agricul-
ture and overall GNP growth and broadened employment opportunities
than those which have not. Besides, the breadth of growth has been criti-
cal to extending the benefits to women. The origins of the economic cri-
sis leading to the need for adjustment are examined, including the dismal
record of external aid to African agriculture. Finally, the effects of adjust-
ment on farming households in general and women farmers in particular
are explored. The paper concludes with a discussion of policy implica-

A Case for Focusing on Women Farmers

Women in developing countries work longer hours than men, in house-
keeping, child care, fetching fuelwood and water, and in the fields (FAO
1985; Schultz 1989; Collier 1987; Birdsall and McGreevey 1983; World
Bank 1989a, 1989f, 1989r). According to FAO, women contribute up to
three-fourths of the labor required to produce the food consumed in
Africa. Further, aggregate rough data indicate that African women pro-
vide about 90 percent of the labor for processing food crops and provid-
ing household water and fuelwood; 80 percent of the work in food stor-
age and transport from farm to village; 90 percent of the work in hoeing
and weeding; and 60 percent of the work in harvesting and marketing
(FAO 1985). Women in Africa typically work up to 16 hours per day, due
to their diverse and numerous responsibilities (Kaul 1989). The poorer
the household, the larger the share of total output generated from the
unrecognized labor of women, and possibly the higher the percentage
contribution of women's income to family income (Herz, personal com-
munication). Maternal health and the amount and the quality of the time
women have available for child care influence the size and the quality of
the population through the effects on fertility and mortality rates and the
health and education of children (Schultz 1989).
While cultural diversity makes generalizations difficult, it is evident
that African women's greater direct responsibility for the food security
and welfare of their households than is typical in Asia and Latin America
derives in part from the practice of polygamy. Men have offspring from a
number of wives; often several satellite households operate in a common
compound. Each wife's interest tends to revolve around the welfare of her
own children. Whether men or women command the factors of produc-
tion (through the right to cultivate land, ability to mobilize labor and
technology, and access to information, services, and infrastructure) influ-

Lele 51

ences the nature, source, size, and distribution of income within the fam-
ily, as well as the resultant patterns of consumption, savings, and invest-
ment. By focusing on the household as the unit of decision-making and
productive activity, as does the structural transformation literature, the
implications of these complex intrahousehold effects on overall economic
growth are often overlooked (Jones 1983; Schultz 1989; Sen 1987).
Consequently, it is important to examine the junctures at which the inter-
ests of men and women diverge and converge.
The importance of focusing on female farmers is accentuated by the
rising numbers of households which are female headed and may conse-
quently be comprised of only female farmers and their dependents. This
trend is of particular concern as female-headed households are among the
poorest (Sadik 1989; Youssef and Hetler 1983) and report lower per
capital income than those headed by men (Schultz 1989b). In some coun-
tries, including Kenya and Malawi, the poorer the household, the more
likely it is to be headed by a woman (World Bank 1989i, 1989s). There is
a wide variation of the definition of the term "household head," making
attempts to identify and enumerate them difficult and reflecting concep-
tual and methodological biases. Female-headed households include
households headed by single mothers, divorced or widowed women,
women whose husbands have deserted them (dejure) and those headed by
women whose husbands are away for an unspecified amount of time,
including migrant laborers, or whose husbands make only a marginal
contribution to the maintenance of the household due to disability,
unemployment, etc. (de facto) (Youssef and Hetler 1983). Furthermore, as
female-headed households are not homogenous, policies devised to
address their needs must take into account the specific social, economic,
and political conditions and constraints which they face. Although there
has been a significant increase in the availability of census data on house-
holds reported by the sex of the head in Africa (from zero of 26 censuses
reviewed in 1960 to 13 of 26 censuses reviewed in 1970) (Youssef and
Hetler 1983), the availability and completeness of data continue to vary
from country to country, and nowhere provide a clear picture of changes
over time. The data available indicate, however, that in Africa the per-
centage of female-headed households is frequently around one-third of
the total and in Zambia approaches one-half.2

Interactions of Cash Cropping, Income, and Nutrition
The relationship between household income and the source and control
of that income is particularly important in Africa where women tend to
control income generated from food cropping and men from cash crop-

52 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

ping. Even in Kenya, where traditional gender roles are breaking down
and women are increasingly playing an important role in export crop pro-
duction, the income they earn from cash cropping is said to be controlled
by men (World Bank 1988b). Control of income within the household is
salient as it has been shown that men and women spend household
income differently: women are reported to give greater priority in their
expenditures to food and children's education than do their husbands
(Peters and Herrera 1989, Guyer 1980, and Tinker 1979). The debate
about the relationship between cash cropping, control of income, and
nutrition is therefore central in the context of both adjustment and trans-
The shifting emphasis between food crops and export crops is the
result of several factors. Food crop prices have been rising for structural
reasons, to the benefit of the net sellers of food. As the number of house-
holds dependent on the market has been rising and the real wages of these
households have been declining, the effect of such food price increases is
mixed. Recent adjustment efforts have in general increased the incentives
for export crop production, yet during the last two decades international
donor community concerns have swung between export orientation and
food security, depending on whether growth or equity objectives achieved
primacy. Such a lack of consistency discourages farmers from responding
to price signals and policy measures. The severe drought in the mid-1970s
led to an emphasis by governments and donors on food security. By the
end of the 1970s, the loss of world markets in primary commodity
exports and the ensuing balance of payments problems contributed to the
promotion of export agriculture and led once again to concern about the
social dimensions of adjustment: specifically to a focus on issues including
food security, health, population, education. These various shifts in
emphases have diverted attention from a more fundamental need for
broad-based growth in the productivity of both food and export crops,
rather than exclusive emphasis on one at the cost of the other.
A number of studies on cash cropping suggest a positive effect of the
increased income so generated on education, adoption of new technology
and input use in agriculture, food security and nutrition, both at the
household as well as at the national level. In the latter case, the effects are
through the foreign exchange earnings or savings, government revenues,
etc. (Maxwell and Fernando n.d.; Weber et al. 1988; Lele, van der Walle,
and Gbetibouo 1989; Lele 1989; von Braun and Kennedy 1986; World
Bank 1988b). By the same token, gains in household income may not
lead to improved health or nutrition if primary health care centers are

Lele 53

inaccessible or nutrition information is not available. Kennedy and Cogill
observed that in the sugar-growing areas of Kenya, even relatively pros-
perous rural households lose a considerable number of working days to
sickness and spend a significant share of their income on curative
medicine due to frequent recurrence of malaria, cholera, and other dis-
eases (Kennedy and Cogill 1988). Expenditures on primary health that
are focused on preventive medicine would be more cost effective as well as
increasing labor supply and productivity. Even with increased food con-
sumption, however, the effects of cash cropping on nutrition and health
may not be positive due to shifts to less nutritious foods or lack of access
to preventive health measures. Von Braun and Kennedy conclude that
cash cropping activities need to be carefully planned to translate potential
nutritional benefits into reality (von Braun and Kennedy 1986).
There is, however, also evidence which questions the positive effect of
cash cropping on nutrition. A recent study in Malawi reports that the
nutrition of children is better served in households where income is
earned in the form of a transfer sent by the male migrant than when
income is earned by the resident male growing cash crops, such as tobacco
or groundnuts (World Bank 1989j). Nutrition education and other inter-
ventions for pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children are impor-
tant, but they are unlikely to make a macroeconomic impact on the large
proportion of people and women living in poverty. To positively affect
this population, growth which creates productive employment for the
poor and increases their wages is essential. Yet many of the relationships
among the various factors in any growth strategy are inadequately under-
stood. For instance, the trade-off between women's increased control of
the household income when the husband migrates, and the husband's
presence, are subjective and difficult to evaluate. Besides, while women's
ability to earn income increases their control of expenditures, women's
employment in farming tends to have an adverse effect on the feeding and
care of infants, especially among the poorest households where women
already have less time for preparation and feeding of children, and who
enjoy less support from extended families than their better-off counter-
parts (Quinn, Chiligo and Gittinger 1988). In Malawi, for instance, the
deteriorating status of children's nutrition is attributed to the fact that
four or five rather than two preparations of maize meal a day must be fed
to children for them to acquire both adequate calories and protein; yet
women's growing reliance on wage employment prevents mothers from
devoting the time necessary to such tasks. One way women maintain con-
trol on household food security in Malawi is by storing physical stocks of

54 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

food rather than holding cash, as men and other family members tend to
"raid" surplus cash more than food stores. Food storage is especially effec-
tive if controlled by an elder woman (Peters and Herrera 1989). Female
offspring are more often reported to be favored in the allocation of food
in Africa in contrast to Asia or Latin America (Sen and Sengupta 1983),
perhaps reflecting the greater economic value of women as agricultural
laborers. However, these various responses are diverse and must be under-
stood in specific cultural context.

Labor Productivity, Education, Fertility, and the Environment
The low labor intensity of hand-hoe cultivation in a situation of land
extensive agriculture in Africa results in long hours of agricultural work
and lower levels of labor productivity in Africa than in Asia (Delgado and
Ranade 1987) and may also have an impact on human fertility. Frequent
failure of labor markets means reliance on family labor for agricultural
work (Matlon 1987), and consequently may contribute to the persistence
of large families in traditional societies (Caldwell 1978). Recent studies
Shave shown that drops in fertility in response to women's increased access
to education have been slower in coming to Africa than in the rest of the
developing world, although some drops in fertility rates have been
observed recently in a number of African countries, including Botswana,
Kenya, and Zimbabwe (World Bank 1989d). The slow response may be
attributed to the relatively recent tradition of women's education in
Africa, although African women had surpassed their Asian counterparts
in primary and secondary school attendance by 1985, albeit starting from
a much lower base (Birdsall 1988, Caldwell and Caldwell 1988, World
Bank 1989n, Ainsworth 1989) (Table 2-1). The relationship between
education and fertility is not clear, however. It has been noted that even a
few years of learning at the primary level lowers women's fertility, either
directly through increased awareness of contraception or indirectly
through reduced demand for children as a result of perceived enhanced
income-earning opportunities or by raising the age of marriage and
thereby reducing the number of childbearing years (World Bank 1989n).
Elsewhere, however, it has been reported that despite expanding educa-
tion for females, fertility levels have increased (Cochrane 1979, Birdsall
1988). This seeming inconsistency may be explained in part by the obser-
vation that fertility may increase with schooling at low educational levels
before falling off rapidly at the threshold of secondary education
(Cochrane 1983, Timur 1977).
In any case, high growth rates of population have been eroding the

Lele 55

gains in per capital income, and few public or private resources have been
devoted to investment in the urgently needed social and physical capital.
Clearly, living standards cannot be increased unless population growth
rates slow down (World Bank 1989n). On the other hand, Boserup,
Ruthenberg, and others have argued that increased population is benefi-
cial for intensification of agriculture by facilitating technical change and
growth of factor and product markets (Boserup 1965, 1981, Ruthenberg
1971). Boserup's position is consistent with a number of studies that show
a positive relationship between the size of the family and household
income in situations of surplus land and imperfect labor markets (Sen
1966, 1975). Without active public policy towards the generation of new
technology and public expenditures for the provision of the necessary
public goods, however, the rate of population growth often outpaces the
autonomous rate of technical progress causing deforestation, soil degrada-
tion, and inappropriate shifts of land use from livestock to cropping (Lele
and Stone 1989; Herz 1974). Here again, as women are the primary
providers of fuelwood and fodder in addition to being cultivators,
women's education and provision of alternatives to outmoded technolo-
gies can play a positive role in consolidating the gains from agricultural
intensification through conservation efforts. Furthermore, excluding
women through retrograde public policies toward alienation of land for
the benefit of a few and restricted rights to new economic opportunities

Table 2-1. Education: Female Percentage of Total Enrollment.
Level/Region 1950 1960 1970 1980 1985
First Level
Sub-Saharan Africa 28 34 39 44 45
South Asia 28 32 36 37 39
Latin America 48 48 49 49 49
Second Level
Sub-Saharan Africa 15 25 31 37 40
South Asia 12 22 28 31 33
Latin America 43 47 48 50 50
Third Level
Sub-Saharan Africa 1 3 6 9
South Asia 10 17 21 25 27
Latin America 22 29 35 43 45
Source: Sivard 1985.

56 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

can lead to diminishing returns on the land as population densities
increase, resulting in a Malthusian trap.

Access to Employment, Extension, Credit, and Technology
Even with a strong commitment to adjustment, improving the overall
incentive structure by itself is not sufficient either to resume growth or to
ensure that women have equal opportunity to move into jobs of higher
labor productivity as the growth process resumes. Women are not able to
switch their labor as easily as men because they lack access to information,
financial and physical capital, credit, and even markets-contrary to the
neoclassical model. Therefore, a variety of "nonprice" factors such as
investment in the quality of human resources, and improvement in phys-
ical assets, land distribution, institutional development, technology, and
services are needed to complement price incentives.
Experience of advanced countries indicates that in order to signifi-
cantly improve employment practices, distribution of land and other
assets, and access to education and institutional finance, women must
themselves actively seek changes in legislation, institutions of marriage,
divorce, and inheritance. Lacking political power, poor female-headed
households are less able to mobilize the capacity of the political, legal, and
social institutions to bring about such changes. Not only do women tend
to be concentrated in low-earning jobs even in developed countries,3 but
even paternalistic programs directed to alleviate poverty often produce
mixed results, as the recent major review of the U.S. experience on
poverty programs indicates (Sawhill 1988).
Complex sociocultural factors explain the lack of equal opportunity for
women. As Collier notes, women face differential constraints upon their
economic activity which include: discrimination outside the household,
often in the form of limited access to wage employment; absence of gen-
x-er-specific role models; asymmetric rights and obligations, e.g., rural
women have the dual responsibilities of household maintenance, raising
children, and growing subsistence food crops in addition to growing cash
crops or working for wages; and the burden of reproduction, with its
attendant health deteriorations which limit income-earning opportunities
(Collier 1988, 1989). Modifying gender roles takes decades. In traditional
African societies there are many additional constraints which hinder the
achievement of women's equal rights, despite the well-intentioned consti-
tutional guarantees of such rights. These include, among other things,
some retrograde traditional values and customs, unequal access to assets,

Lele 57

Figure 2-1. Women tend to be concentrated in low-paying jobs.

technology and education, and the increasing male bias in the process of
modernization (Gladwin and McMillan 1989). Moreover, the rural poor
and women rarely participate in the design and implementation of devel-
opment policies and programs which are intended to benefit them.
Women's income-earning opportunities have been limited by the fact
that they have less access to education (Table 2-1), land ownership, insti-
tutional credit, fertilizer, and extension services than their male counter-
parts. A study in Pakistan shows-and its results may have universal valid-
ity-that fathers devote greater attention to school-going sons than to
daughters. Consequently, even when women attend schools their cogni-
tive skills are sometimes lower than those of men. Although income and
family background are similar, the quality of interaction and motivation
in the home environment is poorer for girls than boys (Sabot, personal
communication). In regard to land ownership, in Kenya only 5 percent oF
the land titles are in the name of women and women borrowers represent
only 10 percent of all loanees (World Bank 1989g). In Malawi, where a
matrilineal society prevails, women's control of land seems limited in
effect. Besides, women-headed households are a small fraction of those

58 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

receiving seasonal credit compared to their share of one-third of the total
number of households (World Bank 1986a). In Zaire, a woman cannot
borrow institutional credit without the written permission of her husband
(World Bank 1989p). Clearly, with increased cost of imported fertilizers
and pesticides resulting from devaluations and from the removal of subsi-
dies, without access to credit, the poor households that have fewer income
transfers from urban employment and are less able to undertake risks are
unable to intensify agriculture, as shown in the case of Malawi and
Senegal (also see the situation with regard to credit in Senegal in Lele,
Christiansen, and Kadiresan 1989). Although women represent up to 80
percent of food producers in some countries, the FAO reports that they
are known to receive only 1-2 percent of extension contacts (World Bank
19891). In Ethiopia, even though women contribute their labor to most
phases of food and cash cropping, virtually no effort has been made to
target either research programs or extension services to increasing female
productivity (World Bank 1989c). Moreover, in Zaire all agricultural
extension agents are men, despite the fact that women are primarily
responsible for food production, and the services are aimed exclusively
towards male household heads on the assumption that they will pass
information along to women (World Bank 1989p).
The introduction of technology, even if specifically targeted towards
women, does not unambiguously benefit them.5 Insofar as men gain
access to and control of the new technologies, women may be relegated to
other time- and labor-intensive activities such that their share of earnings
is reduced and they become more dependent on their husbands (von
SBraun and Webb 1989, Gladwin and McMillan 1989). The introduction
of new technologies can also be hindered by the refusal of women to sup-
ply labor if they are not adequately compensated (Jones 1983, Dey
1983). Although given appropriate incentives women divert their labor
to other cash crops, due to their lesser access to technology and to labor-
saving devices and given the demand on women's time for competing
household activities, their labor productivity tends to be lower than men's
Sin the same activities. Estimates for Kenyan women's lower productivity
Super acre compared to men's range from 15 percent (Smock 1981) to 4
percent (Moock 1973), unless they had the same access to education,
S extension, farm inputs, and credit, in which case women produced 7 per-
cent more (Moock 1973). The productivity per hectare on smallholder
farms compared to large farms and estates tends to be lower, in part
because small farms dominated by women farmers are less able to mobi-
lize all factors of production including labor (Lele and Agarwal 1989).

Lele 59

Migration and Landlessness
Migration is a device households use to diversify sources and increase the
level of income. Whether male members rather than households migrate
depends on the extent of land pressure and the nature of urban employ-
ment opportunities. Land shortage seems to result in the migration of
individual males rather than families, as women remain behind in rural
areas to maintain rights to land. By creating labor shortages, male migra-
tion to urban areas would appear to reinforce the family's demand for
children as a source of agricultural labor. Investment in schooling, on the
other hand, withdraws child labor from agriculture.
An impressive spread of universal primary education in Kenya explains
in part why real wages have not declined as rapidly as elsewhere in Africa,
despite one of the most rapid growth rates of population. A combination
of polygamy and women's obligation to meet food security may well rein-
force the incentive for a large number of children in circumstances of rel-
atively low apparent cost of rearing children and the high economic
return to children's labor in caring for siblings and collecting fuel and fire-
wood (Caldwell and Caldwell 1987; World Bank 1986a). Whereas male
migration increases the woman's control of decisions in household activi-
ties, whether this control is extended to productive activities is not clear.
Once the population density reaches a certain threshold, however, the
growing population pressure on the land and the development of labor
markets appears to reduce the demand for large families. The recent
decline in fertility rates referred to above in countries such as Kenya,
Zimbabwe, and Botswana may well be a result of a combination of the
growing land pressure, relatively better economic performance, wide-
spread growth of income and education, and availability of family plan-
ning programs (van de Walle and Foster 1988).
The determinants of fertility levels or decline are not very well under-
stood in Africa, however. Some demographic literature, for instance,
attributes the recent decline in human fertility rates to the opposite fac-
tors, namely the decline in income in these countries since the economic
crisis began (Cochrane and Farid 1986; World Bank 1989d). That litera-
ture suggests, if anything, that the drop in fertility may well be temporary
and may be reversed if growth is resumed. Given these conflicting inter-
pretations, it is clear that policy must aim at influencing both the
demand for and the supply of children, whereas analysis must continue to
improve our understanding of the causal relationships. Investment in
labor-saving devices which increase the productivity of women's labor is
essential to release their time; steps must be taken, however, to ensure

60 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

that they benefit from the new technology, rather than the technology
being appropriated by men. While some of these investments may assist
the poor by enabling them to increase their economic activities through
improved infrastructure and easier access to fuels and drinking water,
others such as food-processing technologies will reduce the demand for
the labor of poor women, as Timmer (1975) has shown in Indonesia.
Much of the discussion above has implicitly focused on households
with a surplus output for the market. As pointed out earlier, however,
with increasing landlessness or near landlessness of rural households,
reliance on the sale of labor for income and on the purchase of food in
the market for subsistence has been growing. This higher incidence of
landlessness is a result of the increased population pressure on the land,
little or no growth in factor productivity in agriculture, and increased
control of good quality land by a relatively few politically powerful
households, which has led to a substantial movement of populations to
marginal areas, as occurred in Malawi, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. The con-
sequent decline in per capital food production has been associated with a
rise in the real price of food, with at best stagnant money wages (World
.Bank 1989f).
In many countries, including Kenya and Ethiopia, women are not per-
mitted to own land. In others, such as Zambia and Tanzania, new land
reform laws exclude divorced women from land ownership (Sadik 1989).
Many of these landless women-headed households spend nearly 60 per-
cent of their limited income on food. A rapid increase in the price of food
substantially reduces their per capital income with the attendant deleteri-
ous effects on health, nutrition, and labor productivity. Poverty leads to a
vicious circle, namely of the increased need to rely on wage labor, while
facing a shortage of labor to intensify production on their own farms.
Not only do divorced and widowed women in Malawi indulge in greater
"gyanu" work on farms belonging to others than do members of poor
households with a male head, but they also face greater incidence of child
sickness at home during the rainy season, at a time when demand for
agricultural labor outside homes is at its peak (World Bank 1989j).
Clearly long-term and predictable employment-earning opportunities
generated for women through food for work programs which operate in
the off-season can stabilize their income and increase complementarity
between cultivation and employment (Mellor and Pandya-Lorch, forth-
coming). Evidence from Kenya's Rural Access Road Program indicates,
however, that despite considerable success in labor-based road mainte-
nance, less than 10 percent of the wage labor employed consists of
females (Kudat 1989), suggesting that design of additional rural roads

Lele 61

programs need to devote effort to understanding constraints which
inhibit women from being employed.

A range of complementary interventions is needed related to food pro-
duction and distribution, employment, education, and nutrition and
health. Particular attention should be paid to the division of responsibili-
ties among men and women and the likely effects of policies and inter-
ventions on women's time and families' welfare. The role of local people
is key in determining which specific interventions will be appropriate in a-
given microsociocultural context. While local and international non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) can play an important role in help-
ing to develop and implement such programs, it is difficult for large aid-
giving donor organizations such as the World Bank or USAID to make a
major economic impact on the lives of women-headed households
through their own interventions directly, because they tend to be whole-
salers rather than retailers of aid and are too highly centralized in their
operations and too distant from the scene of action to develop appropri-
ate rural development programs. Their role must be seen largely as
improving the capacity of national, regional, and local governments, vol-
untary agencies, and private agents to address this mammoth task effec-
tively. This means carefully selecting apex institutions within each coun-
try to which financial resources are channelled for further assistance to
small-scale local organizations, including those of women. It also means
promoting political and administrative decentralization in Africa. In real-
ity, however, women's issues can be captured by elite women who are not
democratically elected representatives of the constituencies they insist
they serve and whose self-interest may even conflict with that of poor
women. Yet the development of indigenous grassroots organizations by-
women in much of South Asia and in African countries such as Kenya
has already demonstrated the impressive organizational ability of women.;
For such organizations to emerge and make an impact, however, requires
a democratic political system. Whereas women in Tanzania, Malawi, and
Cameroon have also made significant strides in establishing such com-
munity associations, their governments have tended to be less democrati-
cally oriented and have hindered the effective participation of these
groups in development activities (Lele and Hanak, forthcoming).

Market Interventions
Many previous government interventions such as public sector monopo-
lies of food marketing services and government-imposed barriers to the

62 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

movement of grain across administrative boundaries actually increased
the time, cost, and risks women faced in marketing of food products or
encouraged them to sell their surpluses in small lots to avoid breaking
restrictions. Similarly, discouragement of private sector hammer mills in
rural areas forced women to rely either on hand-pounded sembe and gari
or to travel long distances to purchase flour or imported rice. Women
who earn a livelihood from the sale of food crops, as do the market
women of West Africa, are greatly hindered in their activities by govern-
ment restrictions, poor physical infrastructure, and the lack of access to
credit and transport.
In the past, donors tended to reinforce many of these government
interventions by financing parastatals on a scale which would not have
been possible for African governments without the level and type of
external assistance provided (Lele and Christiansen 1989). Moreover,
given the shortage of organizational and human resources and the relative
abundance of finances, donors tended to design complex top-down mul-
tisectoral interventions which had little or no impact on poor house-
holds. To enable import substitution of rice, a labor-saving food particu-
larly demanded by poor women in the cities of West Africa, donors also
financed costly large-scale centralized irrigation schemes, which have
been a drain on government budgets.
To the extent that adjustment efforts are freeing up markets and
improving public sector resource allocation, they will ultimately have a
positive effect on women's production and trading activities. Whether
such major resource reallocation of government expenditures will take
place in Africa is yet to be seen. Donors finance between 30 to 70 percent
of public expenditures in many African countries and themselves develop
vested interests in past policies and investment. In any case, in the short
run the effects of liberalization and privatization on food prices and con-
sequently on the production and consumption in poor food-deficit
female-headed households can be unfavorable, as happened in Malawi
when the market was privatized in 1987. This poses a strategic problem:
liberalization of markets is more easily induced by donors in a period of
economic adversity when governments are more willing to undergo
reforms, yet reforms need to be preceded by several years of systematic
development of alternative marketing channels and accompanied by
some stabilization of prices and supplies to protect the consumption of
the poor. Markets have often erroneously been assumed to be competitive
when donors have pressed for rapid and complete liberalization.
Successful market development requires investment in roads, access to
credit, improved storage by households and traders, and dissemination of

Lele 63

information, conditions which are frequently not met by traditional mar-
keting systems, as numerous recent studies of informal markets show
(Christiansen 1989). Given that adjustment is expected to be a phe-
nomenon which will remain for some time, such a long-term approach to
the development of markets would seem to be both logical and feasible.
While some donor activities reflect an increased time horizon in this
manner, most donor assistance continues to be excessively oriented
toward the short run, both in its time horizon as well as programming.

Structural Transformation and Adjustment

How have development policies adopted by governments affected the
process of structural transformation or intensified the need for structural
adjustment? A study on Managing Agricultural Development in Africa
(MADIA) in six countries carried out in the World Bank concluded that
countries that relied upon their comparative advantage in agriculture per-
formed better both in agricultural and overall growth and diversified their
economies more rapidly than those which pursued strategies of diversifi-
cation at the cost of their traditional agriculture. Moreover, their macroe-
conomic and sectoral policies have been more important in explaining
performance than their luck (Table 2-2). The implications of transforma-
tion and adjustment for women can be seen by examining the country
experiences. For example, whereas the broad-based growth which
occurred in Kenya resulted in a decline in the proportion of population
living in poverty, the skewed benefits in favor of a selected few house-
holds as in Malawi increased the incidence of poverty, especially among
female-headed households (Lele 1988a).

Performances of Selected Countries
Over the 1967 to 1987 period, Cameroon, Kenya, and Malawi experi-
enced relatively fast growth in per capital GDP, while Tanzania, Nigeria,
and Senegal experienced no growth or a major decline in incomes.
Although both Nigeria and Cameroon enjoyed an oil bonanza,
Cameroon performed well, with a large number of small farmers partici-
pating in the production of a range of food and export crops, while
Nigeria's agricultural sector declined in importance. Exports plummeted
and food crop production did not keep pace with the growth of popula-
tion and rising urban demand promoted by a seven-fold increase in pub-
lic expenditures. Despite a rise in imports, food prices relative to nonfood
prices have risen sharply in Nigeria when compared to the early 1970s.

64 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

Even after the adoption of adjustment measures in 1986, which reduced
urban demand by encouraging urban-rural migration, food prices have
tended to be high in part due to import bans on food. Such high prices
should be expected to benefit women producers. However, the prices of
most production inputs and consumer goods have risen sharply as well.
Thus, when their effect is considered it is not clear that the real income of
food crop producers has increased significantly, especially as market mar-
gins take up a significant share of prices. Whereas public marketing insti-
tutions have been recognized for inefficiency, private markets are often
inefficient as well, due to poor infrastructure and lack of information and
Kenya followed Cameroon in achieving rapid growth in food and
export crop production. The government gave small farmers access to
land, paid them international prices for their major crops, and provided
them the necessary public services, thereby facilitating a rapid shift to
labor-intensive, high-value crops, while not jeopardizing food production
growth. Despite these achievements and the decline in the proportion of
the population below poverty, the number of households in poverty
increased substantially, especially in the 1980s when overall growth
slowed down.
Malawi's overall growth record was similar to that of Kenya. However,
unlike Kenya, benefits of growth were highly unequally distributed in
Malawi, to the benefit of the estate sector. Smallholder production
declined in per capital terms due to the policies of land alienation, restric-

Table 2-2. The Luck Factor, Subsequent Policy Responses, and Com-
parative Macroeconomic Performance of MADIA Countries, 1960-87.
Country Luck Factors Policy Responses (% growth rates)
Initial Subsequent economic Sectoral GDP GNP Agricultural
conditions shocks policies policies per capital sector
Cameroon F F F F 5.9 2.8 4.4
Kenya F F F F 5.8 2.1 4.0
Malawi U U F U 4.4 1.5 2.8
Tanzania F U U U 3.3 0.2 1.4
Nigeria F F U U 3.1 -0.2 0.6
Senegal U U U U 2.2 -0.9 1.2
F = Favorable, U = Unfavorable
Source: Lele 1989. Data on growth rates are from World Bank Data File, 1989.

Lele 65

tions on small farmers regarding rights to grow export crops, and inade-
quate access to technology, credit, inputs, etc. Women-headed house-
holds have experienced the brunt of the decline in real income.
Tanzania and Senegal also performed poorly. Whereas adverse policies
played a major part in both countries, Tanzania's more favorable resource
endowments, relative to Senegal's, underline the fundamental role that
adverse policies played in explaining its stagnation. Genuine strides were
made in Tanzania in broadening the access of the rural population, espe-
cially women, to social services such as universal primary education and
rural water supply. These investments could not be sustained, however,
because too little attention was paid to agriculturally led growth, local
participation tended to be rhetorical rather than genuine, and individual
initiative was squelched. Tanzania's commitment to reforms, initiated in
1986, has been halting at best and parastatals continue to play a major
role. Extreme decay in the nation's physical and institutional capital, par-
ticularly the road network, poses a major constraint to reaping the bene-
fits of such reforms as have occurred.
During this period, Senegal's agriculture stagnated; any production
increases were due to area expansion rather than technological change.
Lack of increases in agricultural productivity, deterioration of soil fertility,
and vulnerability to variable and harsh fluctuations in climate have con-
tributed to Senegal's low self-sufficiency ratio and high dependence on
food imports. Although at independence Senegal boasted impressive
social indicators in terms of life expectancy, child mortality, school enroll-
ment, and safe water, there has been little subsequent improvement.
Continued stagnation in these areas bodes ill for women and their ability
to fulfill their dual roles of production and reproduction.
The above discussion makes it clear that internal economic policies
contributed to the macroeconomic crisis by causing stagnation in
exports, growing food and capital goods imports, large and uncontrol-
lable budget deficits, the development of parallel markets, and the decay
of physical and institutional capital. Nevertheless external factors also
caused problems. The two oil price increases in less than a decade and a
prolonged recession in the OECD countries in the mid-1970s increased
the cost of imports and depressed primary commodity prices. The abun-
dance of official assistance, on the other hand, led to a sense of compla-
cency among governments and donors alike, until balance of payments
gaps increased to unsustainable proportions by the beginning of the
Much of the foreign aid given in the 1970s had little impact on

66 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

growth. While project lending expanded rapidly, the integrated rural
development projects funded in the agricultural and rural sector were
often complex and far beyond the scope of the administrative capacity of
the governments to implement. They lacked a technological base and fre-
quently focused on food crops in marginal areas to address well-inten-
tioned concerns about poverty and food security and to meet the govern-
ment's political objectives, but without achieving growth. On the
contrary, many contributed to the growth of low-quality government
expenditures and to public interventions which adversely affected women

Lessons from Adjustment

Structural adjustment has involved the restoration of macroeconomic
balance by reducing the current account and fiscal deficits via the reduc-
tion of internal demand and increasing supply. It has called for changes in
relative prices through adjustment in exchange rate and trade policies,
control of money supply and interest rates, and reduction in public
expenditures including subsidies. Initial adjustment efforts in the 1980s
were focused on relatively short-term issues of restoring external and
internal balance, prompted in part by the expectation that the response
from the economies to such major adjustments would be relatively quick.
As the economic crisis in Africa has been prolonged, however, the scope
of adjustment efforts has broadened. There has been a return to the
emphasis on the sectoral and household level issues of food security
related to technology, as well as physical and social infrastructure. These
new efforts can be fruitful if they take into account the development
experiences of the 1970s and 1980s. However, the lack of institutional
memory in governments and donor agencies frequently prevents incorpo-
ration of lessons learned.
Systematic data-based analysis of the adjustment experience has yet to
be carried out. Nevertheless, several preliminary observations emerge
from the experience to date. First, while price adjustments are necessary
to restore macroeconomic balance, they are by no means sufficient to
achieve a sustained supply response from a large and a growing number of
poor households. To achieve such a response requires attention to a vari-
ety of nonprice factors of the technological, institutional, and infrastruc-
tural nature discussed in this paper. Without these changes, producer
price shifts only result in shifts in crop composition rather than an overall
increase in output (Lele 1988).

Lele 67

Second, without the access of small farmers to land and new technol-
ogy (including improved seed and fertilizers which meet their complex
subsistence consumption needs), even the shift in composition to more
market-oriented crops is constrained by the need of small farmers to meet
their domestic subsistence needs. In Malawi, for instance, there are major
technological issues related to the promotion of improved flint maizes
which women prefer due to their better storage, pounding, and cooking
characteristics which did not receive attention until recently, although
rural development programs have been underway for nearly twenty years.
In Nigeria, the vexing problem of technology for intercropping situations
did not receive attention in agricultural research for nearly two decades;
meanwhile, extension programs promoted sole cropping technology to
small farmers. The result of neglect of these crucial technology issues
which small farmers and risk-averse, labor-short, women-headed house-
holds face is that the proportion of area required for subsistence cropping
has been increasing rapidly at the expense of areas under export crops and
livestock. Furthermore, these activities have been leading to substantial
deleterious environmental consequences through deforestation and over-
Third, higher market prices of food crops combined with the uncer-
tainty in the supply of food in the market can increase the risk averseness
of farmers at the margin of subsistence and reinforce their emphasis on
subsistence production given the high market dependence in a situation
of rising market prices. Fourth, while demand for food for home con-
sumption tends to be inelastic, demand for purchased inputs, especially
fertilizer, tends to be price elastic.6 A result of the increase in fertilizer
prices is the slackening of its demand growth, especially in the absence of
seasonal credit (Gladwin, this volume). Increasing the supply of fertilizer
and credit, however, poses complex institutional problems, especially for
rural households in remote areas which are poorly connected by trans-
port, and where the indigenous private sector is still weak. In addition,
packaging fertilizer in small enough packets to suit the micro needs of
small-scale farmers poses logistical difficulties. Failure to address these
constraints, which are demanding of human resources and institutions,
leads women to work longer hours for subsistence. The ensuing shortage
of women's time for timely planting and weeding of their own crops and
for attending to the needs of their children increases their vulnerability as
well as that of their children. On balance, while structural adjustment
concentrated on price adjustments, the next stage is both an adjustment
and development process in the effort to increase labor productivity, espe-
cially among women.

68 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation


This chapter has documented the important role of African women in
rural social and economic activity. It traced the complex interactions
between polygamy and women's responsibilities for food supply and wel-
fare of their households, the relationship of labor supply to agricultural
intensification, the distribution of intra-household income and con-
sumption, population growth, and the environment. The chapter ex-
plored the impact of food and cash cropping on food security and the
effects of increased market dependence of women under conditions of
growing population pressure on the land. It then examined the interac-
tions between patterns of industrialization and urbanization, migration of
males and households as they relate to agricultural intensification, and
women's changing role in the production process and the command of
income and household decisions. The chapter demonstrated the need for
targeting programs in agriculture, health, education, nutrition, and
employment towards women, but highlighted the practical difficulty of
achieving this objective, given the limited human and institutional capital
in Africa and the low participation of local people in the design of pro-
grams. The paper pointed out that while donors can assist women farm-
ers relatively effectively by helping to improve the macroeconomic and
sectoral policy and institutional environment, their role in the design and
implementation of programs must, by necessity, be indirect.
The experience of adjustment loans in the last decade highlights the
need to focus on several important areas. First, it shows that wrong indus-
trialization policies together with terms of trade shocks created the need
for macroeconomic adjustment, temporarily diverting attention from the
long-term issues of poverty, employment, income, and growth. The focus
on macro adjustment must continue, but it is not sufficient. Second, this
experience demonstrates that a balance must be struck between effi-
ciency-oriented policies and policies involving attention to asset distribu-
tion, productive and social services, and income transfers through food
price stabilization, food for work programs, etc. These various policies
must be considered as complementary rather than competitive as previ-
ously assumed. The bulk of adjustment in public expenditures in favor of
growth that involves the poor must come from the old costly pursuits,
such as large-scale industry and large-scale irrigation. Budget constraints
make subsidies on food and fertilizers difficult to accommodate.
Moreover, as subsidies tend to benefit the relatively larger market-ori-
ented farmers, there is also reluctance to support their continuation. On
the other hand, where poverty and land pressure is intense and the cost of

Lele 69

food imports high due to high transportation costs, the budgetary cost of
input subsidies can be more efficient and desirable than possible food
shortages and food imports. Issues related to the use of input subsidies
and their targeting, however, must be considered on a country-by-coun-
try basis. In Malawi, for example, while targeted subsidies seem preferable
to general subsidies in order to contain the budgetary costs, the statistical
information and administrative and monitoring capacity for targeting
subsidies effectively simply does not exist. This situation applies in a
number of countries. In Nigeria, on the other hand, fertilizer subsidies
already amount to nearly 70 percent of the government budget on agri-
culture and little, if any, of these benefit small farmers, due to the exten-
sive black market in fertilizer.
Third, the issue of export cropping, which has been frequently rele-
gated to the background due to concerns about food security and nutri-
tion, raises important issues of direct and indirect means of reaching poor
households. For instance, in Kenya a large majority of farmers are better
able to undertake the risk of innovation and to finance it from their own
resources due to the higher prices they receive for their export crops, with
the result that less than one-third of the households need direct assis-
tance. In Malawi, on the other hand, government discouragement of
smallholder cultivation of export crops, in conjunction with the risk aver-
sity of subsistence-oriented households, has resulted in a concentration of
subsistence production among smallholders. Despite more rapid popula-
tion growth in Kenya than Malawi, the real wage has dropped less
sharply, in part due to the growth linkages of a broad-based smallholder
agricultural growth generated in the Kenyan economy, from which
women farmers have benefited.
Finally, if women farmers in particular and poor households in general
are to respond more rapidly to improved price signals made possible by
adjustment programs, substantial investment is needed in human, physi-
cal, social, and institutional resources to address the broader issues of
population, agriculture, and the environment, on the one hand, and the
intra-household issues of the command of resources and differential
access to services between men and women, on the other hand. The task
for governments and donors is thus to increase the capacity of local insti-
tutions, NGOs, and private agents to identify the potential impact of the
structural transformation and adjustment programs on the poor-partic-
ularly poor women-and to devise, in conjunction with the affected peo-
ple themselves, appropriate strategies to bring about more equitable agri-
culturally based growth.

70 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

1. The study "Managing Agricultural Development in Africa" (MADIA)
was a five-year study (1984-89) undertaken by the World Bank to explain
the nature and sources of the agricultural crisis in Africa, particularly the
extent to which it originated in resource endowments, historical and con-
temporary events, external and internal policies, and the economic and
political environment. The MADIA study involved detailed analysis of
Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Senegal. In addition
to the World Bank, seven donors, USAID, UKODA (The British
Overseas Development Administration), DANIDA (Danish International
Development Agency), SIDA (Swedish International Development
Agency), and the French and German governments and the EC (European
Community), participated in the study.
2. Available estimates for the percentage of female-headed households in
some African countries include: Malawi 34 percent (World Bank 1989i),
Kenya 33 percent (World Bank 1989g), Ghana 29 percent (Youssef and
Hetler 1983), Mali 15 percent (Youssef and Hetler 1984), Sudan 24 per-
cent (Youssef and Hetler 1984), and Zambia 47 percent (World Bank
1989s). To date, the information from Malawi and Kenya seems to be the
more complete and reliable, although Ghana has also improved its capac-
ity to incorporate gender-specific household-headship information into
census tables and publications.
3. For instance, in 1980, the shares of female and male employment in man-
ufacturing to total employment were 15 percent and 10 percent, respec-
tively, in Japan and 9 percent and 13 percent, respectively, in Korea. In
Japan, whereas the growth rate in nonagricultural employment for women
was 45 percent (1960-70) and 20 percent (1970-80), the rate for men
was 35 percent and 16 percent. During the same period, however, average
female earnings within the same industries were consistently less than half
the male earnings in 1965 and by 1980 this differential had increased in
several countries. Becker also reports a similar situation for other OECD
countries (Lele 1986).
4. In an interesting paper on women's legal capacity and constitutional
rights, Marsha Freeman stresses that no constitutional guarantees, such as
those provided by most developing countries, are meaningful without the
political will of governments and the capacity of the legal systems and
institutions at large to enforce them (Freeman 1990).
5. In the Gambia, for instance, women are active in the production and sale
of many cash crops. With the introduction of irrigated rice the yields per
unit of land increased from 1.3 to 5.9 tons as the share of women's rice
fields dropped from 91 percent to 10 percent, reflecting a switch from rice
as an individually grown crop under the control of women to a communal
crop under the control of men. The benefit of communal cultivation
through extended family was greater food security through reduction of

Lele 71

covariate risks (von Braun and Webb 1989). Nevertheless, the introduc-
tion of new technology such as that of irrigated rice tends to make women
more dependent on their husbands, due to men's greater control of land
and greater access to technology.
6. Based on time series data in Malawi, fertilizer demand elasticity is esti-
mated to be between 0.26 and 0.35 with respect to nutrient/maize price
ratios; with respect to nonprice factors, this ratio is even higher at between
0.58 and 0.67 (Lele 1988b). For Mali, Gbetibouo estimates price elasticity
of demand for fertilizer to be close to -1.2 (Gbetibouo 1990).

Acharya, Meena, and Lynne Bennett
1982 Women and Work in Africa. Boulder: Westview Press.
Ainsworth, Martha
1989 Socioeconomic Determinants of Fertility in Cote d'Ivoire. Paper
presented at the Population Association of America, Baltimore,
Ahmad, Zubeida M., and Martha F. Loutfi
1981 Programme on Rural Women. Geneva: International Labor
Anker, Richard, and Catherine Hein
1985 Fertility and Employment in the Third World. POPULI 12(2).
Anker, Richard, Mayra Buvinic, and Nadia Youssef
1982 Women's Roles and Population Trends in the Third World. London:
Croom Helm.
Becker, Gary
1981 A Treatise on the Family. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
1985 Human Capital, Effort and the Sexual Division of Labor. Journal of
Labor Economics 3: 533-558.
Behrman, Jere R., and Barbara L. Wolfe
1984 More Evidence on Nutrition Demand: Income Seems Overrated
and Women's Schooling Underemphasized. Journal of Development
Economics 14: 105-128.
1987 How Does a Mother's Schooling Affect Family Health, Nutrition,
Medical Care Usage and Household Sanitation. Journal of Econo-
metrics 36: 185-204.
Benavot, A.
1989 "Education, Gender and Economic Development: A Cross-
National Study. Sociology ofEducation 62(1): 14-32.
Benavot, A., and Gita Sen
1986 Accumulation, Reproduction and Women's Role in Economic
Development: Boserup Revisted. Women's Work: Development and
the Division of Labor by Gender, Elaine Leacock and Helen I. Safa,
eds. Boston: Bergin and Gawey.

72 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

Beneria, Lourdes
1982 Women and Development: The Sexual Division of Labor in Rural
Societies. New York: Praeger.
Birdsall, Nancy
1988 Economic Approaches to Population Growth. Handbook of Devel-
opment Economics, Hollis Chenery and T.N. Srinivasan, eds.
Amsterdam: North Holland.
1976 Women and Population Studies. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture
and Society 1 (Spring): 699-712.
Birdsall, Nancy, and William McGreevey
1983 Women, Poverty and Development. Women and Poverty in the
Third World, M. Buvinic, M. Lycette, and W. McGrevey, eds.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Boserup, Esher
1965 The Conditions of Agricultural Growth: The Economies of Agrarian
Change Under Population Pressure. New York: Aldine Publishing
1970 Woman's Role in Economic Development. New York: St. Martin's
1981 Population and Technological Change: A Study of Long-Term Trends.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Buvinic, Mayra, and Sally W. Yudleman
1989 Women, Poverty and Progress in the Third World. Headline Series
No. 289. New York: The Foreign Policy Association.
Buvinic, Mayra, Margaret A. Lycette, and William Paul McGreevey
1983 Women and Poverty in the Third World. Baltimore and London:
Johns Hopkins University Press.
Caldwell, John C.
1978 The Persistence of High Fertility in the Third World. Canberra:
Australian National University.
Caldwell, John C., and Pat Caldwell
1987 The Cultural Context of High Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Population and Development Review 13(3): 409-437.
Christiansen, Robert E.
1989 Special Issue: Privatization. World Development 17(5).
Cleland, J., and G. Rodriguez
1988 The Effect of Parental Education on Marital Fertiltiy in Developing
Countries. Population Studies 42(3): 419-42.
Cochrane, Susan H.
1979 Fertility and Education: What Do We Really Know? World Bank
Occasional Paper No. 26. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
1983 Effects of Education and Urbanization on Fertility. R. Bulatao and
R. Lees, eds.

Lele 73

Cochrane, Susan H., and Samir M. Farid
1986 Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa: Levels and their Explanation. PHN
Technical Note 85-13. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Collier, Paul
1988 Women in Development: Defining the Issues. World Bank
Working Paper Series No. 129. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989 Women and Structural Adjustment. Draft. Washington, D.C.:
World Bank.
Cornia, Giovanni A., Richard Jolly, and Frances Stewart
1987 Adjustment with a Human Face. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Dankelman, Irene, and Jean Davidson
1988 Women and Environment in the Third World: Alliance for the Future.
London: Earthscan Publications.
Davidson, Jean
1988 Agriculture, Women, and Land: The African Experience. Boulder:
Westview Press.
Delgado, Christopher L., and Chandrashekhar G. Ranade
1987 Technological Change and Agricultural Labor Use. Accelerating
Food Production in Sub-Saharan Africa, John W. Mellor, Chris-
topher L. Delgado, and Malcolm J. Blackie, eds. Baltimore and
London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Dey, Jennie.
1983 Women in African Farming Systems. Paper presented at Inter-
national Rice Research Institute Conference on Women in Rice
Farming Systems at Los Banos, The Philippines.
1984 Women in Food Production and Food Security in Africa. Rome: FAO.
Ember, Carol R.
1983 The Relative Decline in Women's Contribution to Agriculture with
Intensification. American Anthropologist 85: 285-304.
Fleuret, Patrick, and Anne Fleuret
1980 Nutrition, Consumption and Agricultural Change. Human
Organization 39(3): 250-60.
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
1985 Women and Developing Agriculture. Women in Agriculture Series
No. 4. Rome: FAO.
Freeman, Marsha A.
1990 Measuring Equality: An International Perspective on Women's
Legal Capacity and Constitutional Rights. Berkeley Women's Law
Gbetibouo, Mathurin
1990 Rapport du Mission. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Gladwin, Christina, and Della McMillan
1989 Is a Turnaround in Africa Possible Without Helping African
Women to Farm? Economic Development and Cultural Change
37(2): 345-70.

74 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

Griggs, Jonathan M.
1989 Women and Structural Adjustment: A Review of the Literature.
Development Economics Research Centre, Department of
Economics, University of Warwick.
Guyer, Jane I.
1980 Household Budgets and Women's Income. African Studies
Working Paper 28. Boston: Boston University.
Herz, Barbara
1974 Demographic Pressure and Economic Change: The Case of Kenyan
Land Reforms. Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University.
1989 Women in Development: Kenya's Experience. Finance and
Development 26(2): 43-45.
Herz, Barbara, and Anthony R. Measham
1987 The Safe Motherhood Initiative: Proposals for Action. World Bank
Discussion Paper No. 9. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Horenstein, Nadine R.
1989 Women and Food Security in Kenya. World Bank Working Paper
Series No. 232. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
International Labor Organization and United Nations Research and Training
Institute for the Advancement of Women
1985 Women in Economic Activity: A Global Statistical Survey
(1950-2000). Dominican Republic.
Joekes, Susan
1988 Women and Structural Adjustment: Parts I and II. Paper prepared
for the meeting of the WID Expert Group of the OECD/DAC in
Paris, France, April 18.
Joekes, Susan, Margaret Lycette, Lisa McGowan, and Karen Searle
1989 Population Growth, Sustainable Development and the Role of
Women. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Johnston, Bruce F., and Peter Kilby
1975 Agriculture and Structural Transformation: Economic Strategies in
Late-Developing Countries. New York: Oxford University Press.
Johnston, Bruce F., and John Mellor
1961 The Role of Agriculture in Economic Development. American
Economic Review 54: 556-93.
Jones, Christine
1983 The Mobilization of Women's Labor for Cash Crop Production: A
Game Theoretic Approach. American Journal of Agricultural
Economics 65(5): 1049-54.
Kaul, R. N.
1989 Gender Issues in Farming: A Case for Developing Farm Tools
Specially for Women. Paper presented at the Farming Systems
Research Symposium, University of Arkansas, Fayettesville.

Lele 75

Kennedy, Eileen T., and Bruce Cogill
1986 Income and Nutritional Effects of the Commercialization of
Agriculture in Southwestern Kenya. Research Report 63,
International Food Policy Research Institute.
1988 The Case of Sugarcane in Kenya: Part I. Effects of Cash Crop
Production on Women's Income, Time Allocation, and Child Care
Practices. MSU Working Paper #167, Michigan State University.
Kudat, Ayse
1989 Participation of Women in Rural Road Maintenance in Sub-
Saharan Africa. Draft. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Kumar, Shubh K.
1987 Women's Role and Agricultural Technology. Accelerating Food
Production in Sub-Saharan Africa, John W. Mellor, Christopher L.
Delgado, and Malcolm J. Blackie, eds. Baltimore and London: The
Johns Hopkins University Press.
1988 Strategies for Protecting the Nutrition of the Poor During
Structural Adjustment. Draft. Paper prepared for regional workshop
on Protecting Nutrition During Periods of Adjustment,
Bali/Lombok, Indonesia, August 29-September 2.
Kuznets, Simon
1956 Towards a Theory of Economic Growth. Garden City, NY: Double-
1966 Modern Economic Growth: Rate, Structure, and Spread. New Haven
and London: Yale University Press.
Kydd, Johnathan G., and A. Hewitt
1986 The Effectiveness of Structural Adjustment Lending: Initial
Evidence from Malawi. World Development 14(3).
Kydd, Johnathan G., and Robert E. Christiansen
1982 Structural Change in Malawi since Independence: Consequences of
a Development Strategy Based on Large-Scale Agriculture. World
Development 10(5): 355-76.
Leacock, Elaine, and Helen I. Saba
1986 Women's Work: Development and the Division of Labor by Gender.
Massachussets: Bergin and Gawey.
Lele, Uma
1981 Rural Africa: Modernization, Equity, and Long-Term
Development. Science 211: 547-53.
1986 Women and Structural Transformation. Economic Development and
Cultural Change 34(2): 195-221.
1988a Agricultural Growth, Domestic Policies, the External Environment
and Assistance to Africa: Lessons of a Quarter Century. Trade, Aid,
and Policy Reform: Proceedings of the Eighth Agriculture Sector
Symposium. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

76 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

1988b Structural Adjustment, Agricultural Development and the Poor:
Some Lessons from the Malawian Experience. MADIA Working
Papers. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989 Sources of Growth in East African Agriculture. The World Bank
Economic Review 3: 119-44.
Lele, Uma, and L. Richard Meyers
1987 Growth and Structural Change in East Africa: Domestic Policies,
Agricultural Performance and World Bank Assistance, 1963-1986,
Parts I and II. World Bank DRD Discussion Paper, Nos. 273 and
274. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Lele, Uma, Robert E. Christiansen, and Kundhavi Kadiresan
1989 Issues in Fertilizer Policy in Africa: Lessons from Development
Programs and Adjustment Lending, 1970-87. MADIA Working
Papers. Washington, D. C.: World Bank.
Lele, Uma, and Robert E. Christiansen
1989 Markets, Marketing Boards and Cooperatives: Issues in Adjustment
Policy. MADIA Working Paper. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Lele, Uma, and Ellen Hanak
Forthcoming. "Soft States," Hard Choices: The Politics of Agricultural Policy in
Lele, Uma, and Steven Stone
1989 Population Pressure, the Environment, and Agricultural Intensi-
fication in Sub-Saharan Agriculture: Variations on the Boserup
Hypothesis. MADIA Working Paper. Washington, D. C.: World
Lele, Uma, and Manmohan Agarwal
1989 Smallholder and Large-Scale Agriculture in Africa: Are There
Trade-Offs Between Growth and Equity? MADIA Working Paper.
Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Lele, Uma, and John W. Mellor
1981 Technological Change, Distributive Bias and Labor Transfer in a
Two Sector Economy. Oxford Economic Papers 33(3): 426-41.
Lesthaeghe, Ron
1989 Reproduction and Social Organization in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lockwood, Matthew, and Paul Collier
1988 Maternal Education and the Vicious Cycle of High Fertility and
Malnutrition: An Analytic Survey. World Bank Working Papers
Series No. 130. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Matlon, Peter J.
1987 The West African Semi-Arid Tropics. Accelerating Food Production
in Sub-Saharan Africa, John Mellor, Christopher Delgado, and
Malcolm Blackie, eds. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Lele 77

Maxwell, Simon, and Adrian Fernando
n.d. Cash Crops in Developing Countries: The Issues, the Facts, the
Policies. Sussex: Institute of Development Studies.
Mellor, John W., and Rajul Pandya-Lorch
Forthcoming. Food Aid and Development. Aid to African Agriculture: Lessons
from Two Decades of Donor Experience, Uma Lele, ed. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Mellor, John W., and Uma Lele
1973 Growth Linkages of the New Foodgrain Technologies. Indian
Journal ofAgricultural Economics 23(1): 38-55.
Mellor, John W., and Bruce Johnston
1984 The World Food Equation: Interrelations among Development,
Employment, and Food Consumption. Journal of Economic
Literature 22(2): 531-74.
Moock, Peter
1973 Managerial Ability in Small-Farm Production: An Analysis of Maize
Yields in the Vihiga Division of Kenya. Ph.D. dissertation,
Columbia University.
Peters, Pauline E., and M. Guillermo Herrara
1989 Cash Cropping, Food Security, and Nutrition: The Effects of
Agricultural Commercialization among Smallholders in Malawi.
Cambridge: Harvard Institute for International Development.
Quinn, Victoria, Mabel Chiligo, and J. Price Gittinger
1988 Household Food and Nutritional Security in Malawi. Paper pre-
sented at the Symposium on Agricultural Policies for Growth and
Development at Mangochi, Malawi, October 31 to November 4.
Rogers, Barbara
1979 The Domestication of Women: Discrimination in Developing Societies.
New York: St. Martin's Press.
Ruthenberg, Hans
1971 Farming Systems in the Tropics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Sadik, Nafis
1989 The State of the World Population 1989. New York: United
Nations Population Fund.
Sawhill, Isabel V.
1988 Poverty in the U.S.: Why is it so Persistent? Journal of Economic
Literature 28(3): 1073-1119.
Schultz, T. Paul
1989 Returns to Women's Education. World Bank PHRWD
Background Paper Series No. 89/001. Washington, D.C.: World
1989 Women and Development: Objectives, Frameworks, and Policy
Interventions. World Bank Working Paper Series No. 200.
Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

78 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

Sen, Amartya K.
1966 Peasants and Dualism With or Without Surplus Labor. Journal of
Political Economy 74(5): 425-50.
1975 Employment, Technology and Development. London: Oxford Univer-
sity Press.
1984 Family and Food: Sex Bias in Poverty. Resources, Values, and
Development, A.K. Sen, ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
1985 Women, Technology and Sexual Divisions. Trade and Development.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 6:
1987 Notes for the Seminar on Women's Issues in Development Policy.
International Center for Research on Women, March 27.
Sen, Amartya K., and S. Sengupta
1983 Malnutrition of Rural Children and the Sex Bias. Economic and
Political Weekly. 18 (May): 855-64.
Siandwazi, Catherine, and Shubh K. Kumar
1989 Effects of Technological Change in Eastern Province on Food
Consumption and Nutrition Status of the Population. Prepared for
seminar on Growth and Equity in Zambian Agriculture: An Eastern
Province Study. (September).
Sivard, Ruth Leger
1985 Women ... A World Survey. Washington, D.C.: World Priorities.
Smock, Audrey
1981 Women's Economic Roles. Papers on the Kenyan Economy: Perform-
ance, Problems and Policies, T. Killick, ed. Nairobi: Heinemann
Educational Books, Ltd.
Svedberg, Peter
1988 Undernutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa: Is There a Sex Bias? Seminar
Paper No. 421. Stockholm: Institute for International Economic
Timmer, Peter
1975 The Choice of Technology in Developing Countries. Cambridge:
Harvard University, Center for International Affairs.
Timur, Serim
1977 Demographic Correlates of Women's Education. Paper presented at
the Conference of the International Union for the Scientific Study
of Population, Mexico. Vol. III.
Tinker, Irene
1979 New Technologies for Food Chain Activities: The Imperative of Equity
for Women. Washington, D.C.: USAID.
Tripp, Robert B.
1981 Farmers and Traders: Some Economic Determinants of Nutritional
Status in Northern Ghana. Journal of Tropical Pediatrics 27: 15-22.

Lele 79

van de Walle, Etienne, and Andrew Foster
1989 Fertility Decline in Africa: Assessments and Prospects. Washington,
D.C.: World Bank.
von Braun, Joachim, and Eileen Kennedy
1986 Commercialization of Subsistence Agriculture: Income and Nutri-
tional Effects in Developing Countries. Washington, D.C.: Inter-
national Food Policy Research Institute.
von Braun, Joachim, and Patrick J.R. Webb
1989 The Impact of New Crop Technology on the Agricultural Division
of Labor in a West African Setting. Economic Development and
Cultural Change 37(3).
von Braun, Joachim, Detlev Puetz, and Patrick Webb
1989 Irrigation Technology and Commercialization of Rice in the
Gambia: Effects on Income and Nutrition. Research Report 75.
Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute.
Weber, Michael, John Staatz, John Holtzman, Eric Crawford, and Richard
1988 Informing Food Security Decisions in Africa: Empirical Analysis
and Policy Dialogue. American Journal of Agricultural Economics
70(5): 1044-52.
World Bank
1986a Population Growth and Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa. World
Bank Policy Study. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1986b Poverty and Hunger: Issues and Options for Food Security in
Developing Countries. World Bank Policy Study. Washington,
D.C.: World Bank.
1988a Adjustment Lending: An Evaluation of Ten Years of Experience.
PPR Series 1, Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1988b Report of the Task Force on Food Security in Africa. Washington,
D.C.: World Bank.
1989a Cameroon: Women in Development Country Assessment Paper.
Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989b The Challenge of Hunger: A Call to Action. Washington, D.C.:
World Bank.
1989c Ethiopia: Women in Development Assessment. Washington, D.C.:
World Bank.
1989d Fertility Decline in Africa: Assessment, Prospect and Policies: A
Research Proposal. Washington, D. C.: World Bank.
1989e The Gambia: Women in Development: A Country Assessment.
Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989f Kenya: Food, Nutrition and Development: A World Bank Sector
Report. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989g Kenya: The Role of Women in Economic Development. A World
Bank Country Study. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

80 Women, Structural Adjustment, and Transformation

1989h Madagascar Food Security Study. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989i Malawi: Country Economic Memorandum: Growth through
Poverty Reduction. Washington D.C.: World Bank.
1989j Malawi Food Security Report. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989k Mozambique Food Security Study. Washington, D.C.: World
19891 Nigeria: Assessment Report on Women in Development.
Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989m Role of Women in the Economic and Social Development of the
Ivory Coast: Country Assessment Paper. Washington, D.C.: World
1989n Sub-Saharan Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Development-A
Long Term Perspective Study. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989o Sudan: Towards an Action Plan for Food Security. Washington,
D.C.: World Bank.
1989p Women in Development: Country Assessment Zaire. Washington,
D.C.: World Bank.
1989q Women in Development in Togo: A Summary Country Assessment
Paper. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989r Women in Development in Malawi: Constraints and Actions.
Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
1989s Women in Development: Issues for Economic and Sector Analysis.
World Bank Working Papers Series No. 269. Washington, D.C.:
World Bank.
Forthcoming. World Development Report. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
World Bank, World Health Organization, and United Nations Fund for
Population Activities.
1987 Preventing the Tragedy of Maternal Deaths: A Report on the
International Safe Motherhood Conference. Conference held in
Nairobi, Kenya in February. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Youssef, Nadia H., and Carol B. Hetler
1983 Establishing the Economic Condition of Woman-headed
Households in the Third World: A New Approach. Women and
Poverty in the Third World Mayra Buvinic, Margaret A. Lycette,
and William Paul McGreevey, eds. Baltimore and London: Johns
Hopkins University Press.
1984 Rural Households Headed by Women: A Priority Concern for
Development. World Employment Programme Research Working
Papers. Geneva: International Labor Organization.

Getting Priorities Right:
Structural Transformation and
Strategic Notions

Bruce F. Johnston

Why focus on priorities? While much attention has been given in the lit-
erature on agricultural development to "getting prices right," relatively lit-
tle attention has been given to the more fundamental question of "getting
priorities right." In a given situation, policy-induced distortions of "macro
prices" (exchange rates, interest rates, wage rates, food prices) may repre-
sent a major impediment to agricultural development (Timmer, Falcon,
and Pearson 1983: chapter 5). In Tanzania and Ghana, for example,
removing such distortions was undoubtedly a precondition for renewed
agricultural progress. But elsewhere price and related distortions may be
only a minor impediment; and macroeconomic reforms can never be a
substitute for the policies and programs needed to foster agricultural
development and the transformation of an overwhelmingly agrarian
economy into a diversified, increasingly productive economy capable of
banishing poverty.
There is in fact considerable justification for the preoccupation with
"getting prices right." It is a convenient short hand expression for empha-
sizing the advantages of moving toward greater reliance on the allocative
mechanisms of a market economy, thus subsuming the broader goals of
encouraging competition and getting markets to work properly. Roemer
and Radelet (1989) state:

Bruce F. Johnston is a Professor, Food Research Institute, Stanford University, and
Fellow, American Agricultural Economics Association. This paper draws heavily on a
forthcoming book on the political economy of agricultural development and struc-
tural transformation by Bruce Johnston, Peter Kilby, and Thomas P. Tomich com-
missioned by the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank and also sup-
ported by the Stanford Food Research Institute and HIID. The author wants to
especially acknowledge Thomas Tomich for the concept of "strategic notions," and
Peter Kilby for helpful comments; but is solely responsible for this very condensed


82 Getting Priorities Right: Structural Transformation and Strategic Notions

A complete reform package, derived from the neoclassical paradigm,
contains five components: (1) freeing markets to determine prices
("letting markets work"); (2) adjusting controlled prices to scarcity
values ("getting prices right"); (3) shifting resources from govern-
ment into private hands (privatization); (4) rationalizing govern-
ment's remaining role in development (budget rationalization); and
(5) reforming institutions to carry out government's new role.

The underlying idea, of course, is that freeing markets so that market-
determined prices reflect opportunity costs will encourage a pattern of
resource allocation that promotes maximum output and an optimal rate
of growth. Hyden (1988: 70) stresses an essential feature of the third and
fourth of those five components when he speaks of the need for "realloca-
tion of responsibilities in such a way that a better institutional balance
between public, private, and voluntary sectors is achieved...." There is an
emerging consensus that the public sector's role should focus on creating
an "enabling environment," notably by strengthening the provision of
public goods such as education and agricultural research and ensuring
that the creation and maintenance of roads and other critical infrastruc-
ture are not neglected.
There are so many interventions that appear to be highly desirable that
a critical problem is to refrain from committing scarce resources to activi-
ties that are not of strategic importance. Indeed, a serious problem in sub-
Saharan Africa is the tendency for governments to assume responsibilities
and to finance public consumption in excess of available resources. The
scourge of inflation and a large foreign debt are two of the most serious
consequences of this failure to maintain a balance between governmental
responsibilities and resources.1 It is this problem of maintaining a balance
between responsibilities and resources that underscores the need to define
The major theme of this paper is that development planners can adopt
strategic priorities which will allow sub-Saharan African countries to accel-
erate the transformation of the structure of their economies and the erad-
ication of poverty. To support this point, I first propose that useful gener-
alizations can be made about strategic priorities. I then describe the
common structural/demographic features of late-developing countries
that provide a basis for those generalizations. Finally, I explore the con-
cept of strategic notions of policy makers and their ability to reach a con-
sensus on the "right" priorities, and provide a short list of strategic priori-
ties which take account of the great importance of women's farming in
sub-Saharan Africa, a role that is examined in detail in other chapters in
this volume.

Johnston 83

Is It Possible to Generalize about Priorities?

The more orthodox approaches to agricultural policy analysis seem to
indicate that it is neither possible nor necessary to generalize about devel-
opment priorities. Agricultural project analysis provides a basis for rank-
ing alternatives according to quantitative estimates of their benefit-cost
ratios. More recently, the Policy Analysis Matrix (PAM) framework has
provided what "might be characterized as the application of benefit-cost
methods to agricultural policy" (Gotsch 1989: 9). Agricultural project
analysis and applications of the PAM framework involve similar calcula-
tions and both are specific to the circumstances of a particular time and
In a recent manual on the PAM approach, Pearson and Monke (1987)
identify three types of policies: agricultural price policy; macroeconomic
policies (notably fiscal, monetary, and exchange rate policies); and public
investment policies (see also Monke and Pearson 1989). They then use a
conceptual framework that focuses on policies, objectives, and constraints
to summarize the processes of policy analysis and policy making in these

Policymakers enact policies (price, macro, or investment) to further
government objectives (efficiency, equity, or food security) in the
face of economic constraints (supply, demand, and world prices).
Policy analysis consists of evaluating price, macro, or investment
policy instruments by quantifying the constraints and by estimating
the likely impacts of policy on objectives. Analysts can thus identify
tradeoffs between objectives and attempt to measure their magni-
tudes. Policymakers can then better exercise their value judgments
about what is desirable policy. (Pearson and Monke 1989: 5).

Note, however, that even though policy analysts attempt to identify and
quantify tradeoffs between alternative policies, there remains a need for
policy makers to "exercise their value judgments about what is desirable
A major theme of this paper is that useful generalizations can be made
about certain strategic priorities. The possibility of making useful general-
izations which help to identify the kinds of policies, programs, and pro-
jects that are likely to be appropriate is most significant for late-develop-
ing countries where 50 to 90 percent of the population still depends on
agriculture for income and employment and where the total labor force is
increasing at an annual rate of 2 percent or more; in Kenya and a number
of other African countries the growth rate of the population of working

84 Getting Priorities Right: Structural Transformation and Strategic Notions

age is approaching 3.5 to 4.0 percent. That subset of late-developing
countries, which includes virtually all of the low-income and many of the
lower middle-income developing countries, shares some common features
from which important generalizations about development priorities can
be derived.
A serious effort to derive useful generalizations concerning strategic
priorities is important for several reasons. If possible, decisions should be
based on quantitative estimates of the benefits and costs of the relevant
alternatives. But a degree of consensus on strategic priorities is essential in
order to identify a limited (and manageable) number of options that
merit detailed quantitative analysis. Even more important is the fact that
many of the critical decisions about strategic priorities cannot be based on
quantified estimates of benefits and costs. Many key variables are
extremely difficult or impossible to quantify but too important to ignore.
The fundamental challenge in the design and implementation of an agri-
cultural development strategy is to promote efficient, evolutionary change
of a complex and dynamic system. An attempt to apply rigorous opti-
mization or other quantitative techniques to a subset of variables is likely
to be worse than decision making that is guided by a more comprehensive
attempt to take account of all of the significant variables. That is espe-
cially true of the long run in which technology and resources are variables
that depend on which historical paths were chosen at successive earlier
periods.2 In a concluding section, I suggest a half-dozen strategic priori-
ties of critical importance to late-developing countries. But first let us
consider the common features of late-developing countries that seem to
provide a basis for those generalizations with respect to strategic priorities.

Common Features of Late-Developing Countries

Structural/Demographic Characteristics
It is no mere coincidence that no country has achieved the eradication of
hunger and other serious manifestations of poverty without structural
transformation and a demographic transition. Because of the interaction
between the predominantly agrarian structure of late-developing coun-
tries and their high rates of growth of population and labor force, it is
inevitable that it will take many years for them to reach the turning point
for structural transformation, defined as the time when the absolute size

Johnston 85

of their farm labor force begins to decline. Moreover, the growth rate of
their farm labor force will only be a little less than the rate of growth of
the country's total labor force until considerable structural transformation
has taken place.
The significance of agriculture's heavy weight in the total labor force
combined with rapid growth rates of population and labor force in sub-
Saharan Africa needs to be underscored. Seemingly small differences in
the initial share of agriculture in a country's labor force and in the rate of
growth of its total labor force can have large effects on the time required
to reach the turning point. For example, if agriculture's share in the total
labor force has declined to 50 percent and the total labor force is growing
at an annual rate of 2.5 percent, a 4.0 percent rate of growth of nonfarm
employment will suffice to enable the country to reach that turning point
in only 16 years. But if agriculture's share in the labor force is still 70 per-
cent in the initial year, 52 years would be required to reach that turning
point when the absolute size of the farm labor force begins to decline,
assuming again that the total and nonfarm labor force are increasing at
annual rates of 2.5 and 4.0 percent. But with the same 70 percent initial
share of agriculture in the labor force and nonfarm employment again
growing at 4.0 percent, the time required to reach the structural transfor-
mation turning point would nearly double to 96 years if a country's total
labor force is increasing at 3.0 instead of 2.5 percent.

Demographic Contrasts and Changes in Farm Labor Productivity
The enormous contrast between the demographic/structural characteris-
tics of developed countries and late-developing countries has a number of
important implications. For one, that contrast is the proximate cause of
the large and growing differences in agricultural labor productivity in the
two sets of countries. That is brought out clearly in estimates for 44 coun-
tries by Hayami and Ruttan (1985: 120) that partition the changes in
labor productivity between 1960 and 1980 into changes in output per
hectare and changes in hectares cultivated per worker.
A comparison of the changes in output per agricultural worker in the
U.S. and in Bangladesh between 1960 and 1980 provides a dramatic
illustration. In 1960 output per farm worker in the U.S. was 47 times as
high as in Bangladesh.3 But between 1960 and 1980 there was a threefold
increase in farm labor productivity in the U.S. from 94 to 285 "wheat
units" whereas in Bangladesh there was a decline from 2.0 to 1.8 "wheat
units" per farm worker. As a proximate cause, that change from a 47-fold

86 Getting Priorities Right: Structural Transformation and Strategic Notions

differential in 1960 to an astounding 158-fold differential in 1980 can be
attributed entirely to the demographic contrasts between the two coun-
By coincidence both countries registered increases in output per
hectare of approximately 40 percent between 1960 and 1980. But in
Bangladesh the increase in output was associated with a 57-percent
increase in the farm workforce from 12.1 to 19.1 million, whereas in the
U.S. the farm workforce declined from 3.8 to 1.7 million. Consequently,
the area cultivated per farm worker in the U.S. increased from 117 to 247
hectares, whereas in Bangladesh the area cultivated per farm worker
declined from 0.8 to 0.5 hectares between 1960 and 1980. Because of the
much greater degree of specialization in the U.S., where agriculture
accounts for less than 4 percent of the total labor force compared to about
75 percent in Bangladesh, it is both necessary and possible for American
farmers to augment inputs of human labor with a huge array of purchased
inputs. Perhaps even more important is the much greater level of U.S.
investments in education, research, and a host of other public and private
institutions that directly and indirectly contribute to the productivity of
American agriculture.
In the U.S., Japan, Taiwan, and other countries that pursued efficient
agricultural strategies, increases in totalfactorproductivity (output per unit
of total input) have been a major source of increase in farm output. In
such countries the growth of output has typically been about twice as
rapid as the increase in use of inputs (labor, land, machines, fertilizers),
whereas in low-income developing countries the rate of increase in the use
of inputs has been nearly as great as the increase in output. In brief, the
high levels of productivity achieved in developed and middle-income
countries such as the U.S. and Japan are the result of specialization and
balanced accumulation of capital, including both physical and human
capital and also social capital-economically useful knowledge and insti-
tutions as well as cultural attributes that sustain the accumulation and
efficient use of capital in its various forms.
Finally, this growth of productivity based on specialization and bal-
anced accumulation of capital depends on structural transformation, the
process whereby an overwhelmingly agrarian economy is transformed
into a diversified, predominantly industrial, and highly productive mod-
ern economy. Moreover, since increases in output per worker depend on
increases in per capital stocks of capital in its various forms, completing the
second half of the demographic transition is a critical component.

Johnston 87

Unimodal Versus Bimodal Patterns of Agricultural Development
Another important implication of the structural and demographic charac-
teristics of late-developing countries is that they confront a choice
between a broad-based unimodal strategy aimed at a large subsector of
small-scale units, or a bimodal dualisticc) pattern in which increases in
output are concentrated within a small subsector of large-scale units
(Johnston and Kilby 1975, Johnston and Clark 1982). The choice is
often made by default; but there is an unavoidable trade-off between
emphasis on a unimodal vs. a bimodal pattern of agricultural develop-
ment. This trade-off is gender-related in sub-Saharan Africa, where many
of the small farm units are operated by women (Lele 1986, Gladwin and
McMillan 1989) and most if not all of the large farms are operated by
men (Guyer, this volume).
When agricultural land is scarce, the small size of the average farm unit
will obviously be further reduced if a subsector of large farms accounts for
a large percentage of the available agricultural land. But even if there is
scope for expanding the area under cultivation-as there is in certain
regions of sub-Saharan African countries (Cohen 1989: 9-10)-there is a
trade-off because of the severe cash income/purchasing power constraint
that characterizes the agricultural sector in late-developing countries.
That constraint exists because the urban population dependent on pur-
chased food is very small relative to the number of farm households.
Hence a subsistence orientation is an inevitable characteristic of farm
households. To be sure, a subsector of large farms may be able to escape a
serious purchasing power constraint by accounting for the greater share of
commercial production and farm cash receipts. The resulting bimodal
pattern of agricultural development means, however, that for the great
majority of farm households the purchasing power constraint is exacer-
bated. To the extent that foreign exchange, licenses for imports, loanable
funds, and other scarce resources are allocated directly by government, as
with state farms, the preferential treatment of the large farm sector and
discrimination against small farms becomes more obvious and extreme.
The initially slow process of structural transformation will only gradu-
ally increase cash receipts as domestic commercial sales expand with
growth of the nonfarm population dependent on purchased food. As the
rate of growth of a country's total labor force declines and the weight of
the farm labor force in the total is reduced, the scope for enlarging the
cash receipts of the average farm household is increased. Because that is

88 Getting Priorities Right: Structural Transformation and Strategic Notions

inevitably a slow process, expanded production of export crops is likely to
be an attractive option for late-developing countries because it provides a
means of expanding farm cash receipts that is not dependent on the slow
process of structural transformation.4
It needs to be stressed that advocacy of a unimodal pattern of agricul-
ture is not an endorsement of policies to favor "the poorest of the poor" or
of measures intended to ensure that all smallholders advance in lock-step
so that increases in income differentials are prevented. A unimodal devel-
opment strategy is not an "egalitarian growth path" (Carter 1989: 35) or
an equity argument that "can alleviate income disparities and raise pro-
duction uniformly across the board" (Cohen 1989: 13). Furthermore,
African experience suggests that a degree of bimodalism may have com-
pensating advantages. Significant involvement of a developing country's
elite in agricultural production seems to protect the agricultural sector
from policies that are too detrimental to farmers (Bates 1981) and also to
encourage government investment in rural infrastructure and agricultural
research and other support services. The contrast between Kenya and
Tanzania is pertinent (Lofchie 1989, Johnston 1989).
There is a substantial risk, however, that African policymakers and for-
eign advisers will promote the growth of a large-scale farm sector to a
degree that jeopardizes the prospects for success in realizing a unimodal
pattern of agricultural development. In its most recent report on sub-
Saharan Africa, the World Bank (1989: 93) argues that policies should
encourage "medium- and large-scale farming" as well as smallholder agri-
culture, noting that "educated Africans who might spurn peasant agricul-
ture could be attracted to work in such modern agricultural enterprises."
The argument is seductive but treacherous. There is a strong tendency,
clearly evident in this World Bank report, to ignore the trade-offs that
arise because of the cash income/purchasing power constraint and other
factors that make it virtually impossible for a late-developing country to
implement simultaneously successful strategies oriented toward both
smallholders and large-scale farm enterprises.5 The impacts on African
women farmers left in the stagnating smallholder sector when the lion's
share of national resources of land, capital/credit, and foreign exchange go
to medium- and large-scale male farmers are documented in other papers
in this volume.

Land Reform as a Precondition for a Unimodal Pattern
Because of the attention that has been given to the post-World War II
experience of Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, there is a tendency to
regard land reform as a precondition for a unimodal pattern of develop-

Johnston 89

ment. The redistributive land reform programs carried out in those three
countries were indeed successful and contributed to accelerated growth of
agricultural output as well as more equal distribution of income among
the farm population. There were, however, special circumstances that
contributed to the success of those reform programs. In many of today's
developing countries the political resistance to effective implementation
of redistributive land reform programs is so strong that it is defeatist to
assume that such a program is a precondition for achieving a unimodal
pattern of agricultural development.
In fact, it is the size distribution of farm operational units, not owner-
ship units, that is the critical determinant of the choice of agricultural
technology. The patterns of agricultural development in Japan, Taiwan,
and Korea were unimodal long before the postwar land reforms;
landowners found it more profitable to rent out land in small parcels to be
farmed intensively by tenant households. Empirical evidence indicates
that small farms have an economic advantage over large farms as long as
labor is cheap (owing to its relative abundance and the lack of alternative
employment opportunities But that potential superiority may be offset
by various differentiating factors that give large farmers a differential
advantage over smallholders. Many of those differentiating factors may be
a consequence of certain kinds of macroeconomic and sectoral pricing
policies. Policies to provide cheap credit and to subsidize inputs are com-
mon and invariably bias development in a bimodal direction unless tar-
geted explicitly to smallholders. They create an excess demand situation
that gives rise to administrative rationing that in turn gives an advantage
to larger, more influential farmers.

Strategic Notions and Development Priorities

One of the major gaps in our understanding of the development process
concerns the factors that influence policymakers' decisions about develop-
ment priorities. Allison (1971) has demonstrated the limitations of rely-
ing entirely on a "rational actor model" (Bates 1981) which assumes that
governments make choices in a manner analogous to decision making by
an individual. In his seminal book, Allison argued that the rational actor
model needs to be supplemented by two other models-an "organiza-
tional process model" and a "governmental politics model." Those two
models direct attention to the role of specific organizations and their
organizational routines and interests and to the roles of individuals in a
position to influence decisions, because of their positions in the relevant

90 Getting Priorities Right: Structural Transformation and Strategic Notions

action channels, and who will be influenced by certain individual and
group interests.
Collective choice theories such as those set forth by Buchanan and
Tullock (1965) claim to be able to explain governmental decision making
by extending the self-interest theory of economics to the political domain.
In fact, there is no agreed theory of "the political economy of develop-
ment." Tomich, Kilby, and I have adopted a view of political economy as
an approach characterized by explicit concern with political as well as eco-
nomic constraints and with the importance of seizing political as well as
economic opportunities.6
The conventional view of the policy process is misleading when
applied to the complex, ill-structured problems of development. That
conventional view of rational problem solving sees its job as establishing
certain objectives and then deciding how those predetermined objectives
are to be reached. But one of the central lessons of policy analysis is that
ends and means are not distinct entities. Progress in the real world, espe-
cially the severely constrained world of late-developing countries, calls for
mutual adjustment of ends and means. A realistic approach also requires
explicit attention to both the desirability and feasibility of alternatives.
Leys (1971: 133) puts the matter well when he stresses the need to ask
simultaneously "what changes-social and political as well as economic-
are within the politicians' 'means,' and what are not; and what patterns or
sequences of change, among those that are practicable, will carry the pro-
cess of economic development farthest and fastest at the least cost in the
politicians' resources?"
The importance of viewing social problem solving in late-developing
countries as mutual adjustment of ends and means is underscored by the
fact that in poor countries certain objectives appear to be so compelling
that often there appears to be no humane alternative to stressing what is
needed in the hope that an eminently desirable goal will somehow be fea-
sible as well. Thus there is considerable enthusiasm for focusing on
hunger as the critical problem in Third World countries and calling for
direct action to eradicate it. The 1980 report of the Presidential
Commission on World Hunger, for example, declared "people who are
poor need not be hungry as well" and offered a blanket endorsement for
food stamp plans as a direct action that is less costly than general food
subsidy programs (Presidential Commission 1980: 40-41). For an afflu-
ent country such as the U.S. and for many middle-income countries as
well that is a feasible as well as desirable proposition. For low-income,
late-developing countries, however, a food stamp plan is an inappropriate,
even damaging choice. For those countries no sustainable solution to their

Johnston 91

pervasive problems of hunger and poverty is possible without structural
transformation and substantial increases in farm and nonfarm productiv-
ity and output. Their problems of hunger and poverty are more
widespread among hard-to-reach rural households than in urban areas,
which further underscores the limitations of a food stamp or other direct
action program.
In addition to the reasonably balanced investments in physical,
human, and social capital required for transforming their predominantly
agrarian structure, certain investments in education and health appear to
be essential for completing their half-completed demographic transition.
The needs for public and private investment and recurrent expenditure
for economic and social development are so great that it is exceedingly
difficult for late-developing countries to maintain a manageable balance
between responsibilities assumed by government and the resources avail-
able for carrying out those responsibilities. That common problem of
imbalance between responsibilities and resources underscores the critical
importance of achieving a workable consensus with respect to develop-
ment priorities.

Strategic Notions and Reaching a Consensus on Priorities
It is obviously much easier to assert the need for a consensus on develop-
ment priorities than to offer useful guidance on how it might be achieved.
An essential step is to recognize that development is inherently a time-
consuming process with a consequent need for patience and persistence.
A long-term strategic perspective on the interrelated components of a
rural development strategy highlights the importance of complementary as
well as competitive relationships among alternative policies and programs.
The focus needs to be on rural development, encompassing but not con-
fined to agricultural development. Success depends on development of
the rural nonfarm economy as well as on expansion of farm output.
Furthermore, public investments in education, health, and family plan-
ning programs that reach a large and growing percentage of a country's
rural population are crucial to the progress of structural transformation
and the demographic transition.
It is tempting to multiply the list of essential objectives that need to be
achieved by a late-developing country. Indeed a defining characteristic of
such countries is that they can't afford to do a great many things that they
can't afford not to do. Study of the historical experience of countries in
which well-conceived agricultural strategies have made a major contribu-
tion to economic growth suggests that certain strategic notions held by
policy analysts and policy makers facilitated a consensus on strategic pri-

92 Getting Priorities Right: Structural Transformation and Strategic Notions

orities. In both the U.S. and Japan, for example, widely held strategic
notions concerning the importance of education and investing in human
resources contributed greatly to their economic progress. Other strategic
notions differed in the two countries, but in both the development prior-
ities that were shaped by the strategic notions held by their policy makers
were appropriate to their stage of development and the constraints and
opportunities that they faced.
In spite of great differences in their resource endowments and histori-
cal circumstances, a rich literature on agricultural development in Japan
and the U.S. suggests that several strategic notions helped to shape the
development of an interacting system of developmental institutions,
including primary and secondary schools and institutions of higher edu-
cation, agricultural research systems, mechanisms for diffusing technical
knowledge and innovations, and programs for construction of roads and
other rural infrastructure. The increasingly productive agricultural tech-
nologies that were developed and diffused in the two countries were very
different but well suited to their respective resource endowments.
The concept of strategic notions, as used by Tomich, is less sweeping
than ideology but more concrete than "mindset," although akin to both.7
Even with heroic efforts to quantify costs and benefits of alternative
actions, policy makers can only have a notion of the policies and pro-
grams that will be effective in furthering the development process. The
strategic notions that shape their decisions are based on a combination of
conjecture, personal perception of "facts," and vaguely remembered ideas.
The beliefs underlying those notions derive from past personal experience
and selective interpretations of the experience of others as well as more
formal ideas influenced by education and policy research and analysis.
Moreover, because those notions are derived from similar backgrounds,
they are likely to be shared by many of a country's policy makers. Some
widely held strategic notions have been appropriate and highly beneficial.
Others have been destructive. There seems reason to believe that African
countries have been adversely affected by the sway of imported and
changing strategic notions, which has probably been an obstacle to the
emergence of strategic notions based more firmly on local experience. It
would, however, be defeatist and wrong to assume that African countries
cannot draw useful lessons from study and careful interpretation of the
experience of countries that have pursued successful strategies of agricul-
tural and rural development.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs