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Letters

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
March 1983
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Selling Bank publications

It was good on your part to have invited comments and views from the readers. The world Development Report and the World Bank Atlas have now been transferred from the list of free publications to the list of publications for sale. This must have been due to escalating costs and the rising demand for these publications. But it should have been avoided and some other ways found to cut costs, as these publications provide basic statistical data and are very useful for purposes of reference.

R. S. Dangayach

Jaipur, India

James Feather, Director of the World Bank’s Publications Department, comments

One of our main objectives is to make Bank publications available at a low cost in developing countries. Thus, while World Development Report 1982 is published in the United States at US$8, it is available in India from Oxford University Press, New Delhi, at 25 rupees (approximately $2.50). This subsidized price puts the book within the reach of individuals as well as organizations.

Additionally, all nonrestricted Bank publications are accessible at some 300 depository libraries in 80 countries throughout the world. In India, there are 46 such institutions that receive our publications free of charge. Their existence guarantees that no one who needs World Bank material is denied access to it by reason of cost.

By any other name

For several years in the classroom I have noted that we need a less unwieldy name for the form of international reserves that has evolved from the Fund’s bookkeeping entries tagged “special drawing rights” in 1970. William J. Byrne’s excellent review of the evolution of the special drawing right (SDR) in the September 1982 issue of Finance & Development prompts me to write and suggest the acronym spedra (spādrä) as an appropriate name for what will perhaps become a truly international currency. This would replace the three English words or three separately pronounced letters now used. Of course, a check of the world’s numerous languages would be necessary to assure that adoption of this word for our “paper gold” would not cause linguistic problems. I have experimented in class with the use of “spedra” in place of “SDR” and it works very well.

Professor Charles E. Ratliff, Jr.

Davidson College

Davidson, NC U.S.A.

William J. Byrne, Senior Operations Officer in the SDR Division of the Treasurer’s Department, replies

Financial innovation inspires linguistic innovation. Sir Joseph Gold was once moved to write an entire article on the subject of renaming the infant SDR (IMF Staff Papers, July 1976, pp. 295–311). Now that the infant has become a teenager, a new name would lead to a severe identity crisis (not to mention acronymy).

Effective family planning

Authors Cochrane and Meerman are to be commended for their article, “Population growth and food supply in sub-Saharan Africa” (September 1982); their analysis is sound and, regrettably, their conclusions valid. In one area must I take issue and this is with their statement, apropos family planning programs, “Nevertheless, there is little sense of urgency to the programs; nor have techniques or approaches been worked out that would be most suited to African circumstances.” The first part of the statement is correct, but the reference to techniques and approaches is not.

In the decade that I managed the family planning program in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, we demonstrated the efficacy of a program conducted by a well-funded voluntary agency. Our data demonstrated the danger of relying on the bureaucracy to execute a national program and underlined the fallacy in thinking that a population program could be grafted onto the health services. A well-managed voluntary program must take the lead; the health services provide backup. We took our services to the “doorstep of the people,” using lay educators and distributors drawn from the community within which they were to work. Our well-trained lay personnel carried an effective range of oral and injectable hormonal contraceptives and were built into the community as a “source,” providing information, education, and services. Newly initiated clients were referred to our family planning clinic-based services, conducted by nursing personnel, for their medical checks; in the absence of our own clinic services, clients were referred to staff of the health services whom we had trained.

In 1981 the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) agreed to fund the program with US$7.5 million over three years. This permitted a major expansion of the field force; provided equipment and expert manpower to monitor and analyze the achievements of the program; and sponsored a training facility for the benefit of other sub-Saharan African countries.

Based on a 1969 census, Zimbabwe’s annual population growth rate was estimated at 3.6 per cent. In April 1981 the Population Reference Bureau concluded that our program reduced this rate to 3.2 per cent. Zimbabwe’s recent census indicates an annual population growth rate of 3 per cent, which is close enough to vindicate the findings of the Population Reference Bureau. We did reduce the rate of population growth; what we did could have been done by others.

Peter Dodds

Former Director,

Zimbabwean Family

Planning Association

The Editor responds

Mr. Dodds records a success story in African family planning programs. There is little doubt that the program has increased contraceptive use substantially. The exact magnitude of the effect on birth rates is uncertain, however, due to lack of recent data on fertility levels. We are told that forthcoming data from Zimbabwe’s own census should clarify the picture.

The important thing, however, is not the exact effect of the program but why it succeeded in the first place and whether that experience can be repeated in other African countries. Among the many critical variables that will determine its replicability are, primarily, literacy and mortality rates, which affect the desired number of births in society and which seem to be more conducive to low desired fertility in Zimbabwe than generally in Africa. Other factors include the efficiency of public and private organizations in supporting family planning, and the commitment of political leaders and administrative staff to the success of such programs.

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