Implementing structural adjustment programmes in Africa: some implications for social work practice and training
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The main elements involved in the African economic crisis include deteriorating levels of public and private investment, mounting foreign debt:, inflationary budget deficits, incapability of maintaining public expenditure on social services (in particular health and education) and the maintenance of infrastructure generally. This is made worse by drastic declines in production in key sectors and increasing rates of unemployment and overall poverty. Structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) are only the most recent in a long series of similar attempts at resolving this economic crisis in Africa during the course of the last three decades of post-independence. Structural adjustment programmes (and previous policies, eg those termed "stabilisation programmes" and "economic reform programmes") have had immense impact on the countries undertaking the reforms, and in many cases have created further hardships for vulnerable groups within these countries, however these groups are defined. This paper considers the issue of the implementation of structural adjustment programmes in African countries. The aftermath of these programmes is so profound that almost every aspect of life is affected. As such it is important that social workers become aware of the resulting consequences and consider the implications for their own practice. It is also necessary to consider ways in which knowledge about structural adjustment and its social effects can be incorporated in the curriculum of schools of social work in Africa.