Republic of Togo
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Contributor: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Contact: Jean Bonnal

Republic of Togo

The terms and data used in this publication are in no way an indication of the authors' position relating to the legal status of the countries, territories, cities or zone mentioned, or of their authorities or borders.

A. General Country Data

Surface Area54, 390 sq. km
Population (millions)4.7
Population Growth3.2%
Urban Population30.8%
Density (1995)86 inh/sq. km
GDP (1994) Billions US $ 1.0
GDP per Capita US $ 212
Currency CFA Franc
National Budget23% of GDP
Human Development Indicator0.365
HDI Ranking (out of 174 countries)147

Borders, Topography and Climate

Situated in West Africa, Togo fronts the Atlantic Ocean on the south (Gulf of Guinea), is bordered by Burkina Faso on the north, Benin on the east, and Ghana on the west. Southern Togo is characterized by a low and narrow coastal strip of land and interior lagoons. Towards the north, sedimentary lands of higher elevation precede a plateau region which can rise up to 425 m in the northeast. A central chain of hills, Chain of Togo, stretches from the southeast to the northwest of the country. Its average altitude is about 700 m. North of the hills is a plateau drained by the River Oti; the terrain rises in altitude and becomes more uneven toward the north west. A large part of southern Togo is drained by the River Mono and its tributaries.

Togo has a tropical climate. The annual average temperatures range from 27 degrees centigrade on the coast, to 30 degrees centigrade in the north. The south has two rainy seasons, from April to July, and from October to November, and the average annual rainfall is 1,321 mm. The north has only one rainy season (April-July) and gets most of its annual precipitation during this period (1,143 mm).

Characteristics, and Recent Developments of the Political System

Togo, independent since 1960, began a long and difficult democratization process in 1990. Today, its political system can be characterized as a republic in transition to democracy. The 1980 constitution, which installed a one-party system was revoked by the National Conference for Reform

and a transition constitution was adopted 24 August 1991. A draft constitution stipulating a highly regulated multi-party system,was sent to the High Commission of the Republic (a transition government led by a prime minister), in November 1991, for approval and was adopted by referendum in September 1992. This constitution ushers in the fourth republic and institutes multi-party politics. In accordance with the terms of this constitution, the president of the republic is the chief executive, and is elected for a term of five years, and legislative power is vested in the National Assembly composed of 81members, elected for a term of five years. The president appoints the prime minister from the party that commands a parliamentary majority.

In August 1993, some months after the democratic movement was violently suppressed, G. EYADEMA, in power since 1963, was elected president of the republic after elections boycotted by the opposition, and with only 40% of the electorate participating. The legislative elections of 1994 opened the way for an extensive revision of this constitution. These elections were won by the democratic opposition represented by the Action Committee for Renewal (CAR), which had become the principal opposition movement in parliament, and by the Togolese Union for Democracy (UTD), whose leader was appointed prime minister. But his party had only six seats (compared to 34 for CAR), and had to get the support of the Rally of Togolese People (RPT), the former single party, and which supports the president.

Agriculture in Togo

A fourth of Togolese land is farmed. The facts are more complicated : they take into account not only the small millet farm of the northern savanna but also the plot of clay land in the south planted with corn or sweet potato. But they do not state that the lower rank civil servant is often a farmer planting his yams and does not look down on casting a net in the lagoon.... On the whole, agriculture contributes 33% of GDP and employs about two thirds of the work force. Agricultural activity is mostly for food crops : cassava, yams, corn, and rice. The government is trying to diversify export crops (cacao, coffee, cotton) to solve the problem of unstable world prices and to maintain the performance of the country's agriculture, which had a surplus of 21 million in 1994. A rare situation in Africa, Togo is about self-sufficient in food.

The high rate of population growth is taking a toll on the natural resources of the country. The need for firewood has been one of the primary causes of deforestation in Africa. It has caused an extension of the desert in the north, in spite of a government campaign of reforestation to halt the spread of the desert.

Current Economic Situation

The search for a more solid economic situation has led the government since 1983, sometimes hastily, to implement structural adjustment and privatization programs that are among the most ambitious in Africa. This divestiture was followed by an active policy of promotion of a dynamic private sector. After a very long general strike lasting from the end of 1992 to the first few monts of 1993, and reduction in international aid in 1993, the economy has slightly picked up since 1994. Through a strict austerity program the government was able to turn around a worsening economic and financial situation with which it had been faced since the 1980s, and to honor its obligations relating to its external debt. The devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994, however, led to an inflationary spiral (more than 40%). The devaluation together with three years of internal unrest worsened the economic situation. The fate of the national economy has been dependent since 1990, on IMF support.

B. On-going Decentralization Process

Background, Objectives, and Legal Framework

The current decentralization process started in 1991, when the transition government of the High Commission of the Republic decided to solve the political problems and budgetary constraints by a liberally inspired policy, which combined decentralization, privatization and new democratic measures. To achieve its goals, the government created a Ministry of Decentralization while at the same time it had decentralization and constitutional reform laws passed in October 1992.

Functions, Resources, and Autonomy of Decentralized Entities

The decentralized entities of the intermediate level were assigned decision-making and implementation functions to share with the local level. They were also assigned consultation and control functions. Financing remained an exclusive sphere of the national level.

It is likely that the process lost steam, first of all because the decentralized entities of the intermediate level did not obtain the resources they needed to carry out their new responsibilities; the local level did not receive sufficient resources either; finally, the autonomy of the subnational levels in the use of their resources is somewhat limited. The Ministry of Decentralization exercises a close supervisory role over the local level.

C. Decentralization and Rural Development

Forms of Decentralization, Agricultural and Rural Development Policy Formulation

The preparation of the decentralization process in the agricultural and rural development sectors started in 1994 but its implementation was delayed due to the postponement of some decisions and the financial problems that the process entailed. The principal form of decentralization seems to be an extensive deconcentration of central state services followed by a limited delegation to semi-public entities. Both were put into effect within the framework of an administrative restructuring program of the Ministry of Agriculture launched in July 1997. This program specifically targets the regional level whose capacity and organization seemed to be more prepared for the challenges of decentralization. On the other hand, devolution to subnational entities and to civil society organizations was rather limited.

And so even if the modalities of rural development planning and program design took into account bottom to top procedures (subnational inputs), they are still a national level prerogative. Consequently, the Ministry's policies are only modified to take into account regional and production characteristics. One positive development in the case of Togo which is absent elsewhere in West Africa is, on the one hand, that the intermediate and local levels participate in the formulation of these policies not only through consultations but also through joint decisions, and on the other, that the level of coordination of government action at regional level is relatively high. An important exception relating to equipment and rural infrastructure (including irrigation) is that decision-making, financing and control, monitoring and evaluation remain an exclusive responsibility of the national level.

Decentralization and Agricultural Support Services

There are two models for the assignment of responsibility concerning the principal agricultural support services : 1) joint policy determination by the national and intermediate levels(training, research and inputs); 2) joint policy determination by the national, intermediate and local levels (extension and credit). Financing is however, as in many countries, the exclusive responsibility of the national level for all services.

The Togolese public sector, contrary to what one observes in other countries in the region, is not at all predominant in service delivery and does not even participate in the supply of agricultural credit. Agricultural credit is furnished by the private sector, producer organizations and NGOs. The public sector and NGOs furnish extension and research services whereas both the public and private sectors and NGOs provide training. Inputs are provided not only by the private sector as is the case in other countries, but by the public sector and producer organizations.

Support Policies, Constraints and Evaluation of the Decentralization Process

One other particularly regrettable characteristic of the Togolese decentralization process that it shares with Guinea-Bissau, is the total absence of support policy whether it be with regard to information on the process (planned but not yet put into effect) or concerning training and organizational support (not even planned for). It is true that the decentralization process is only recent and that measuring its impact would be premature, but one could point out now that the Togolese decentralization process is burdened with three major consrraints : a) the absence of a framework for consultations; b) the weak capacity of the local level; c) the weak capacity of the intermediary level.


If these problems are not sovled, it will be particularly difficult to consolidate gains and to make decentralization work effectively. It will be difficult to effect devolution given the weak capacity of civil society organizations. It is clear that without devolution and the training it involves, Togo's attainment of democracy remains doubtful.