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Retrenchment programs in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons for demobilization

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Release date: 1997-06

Retrenchment is a byproduct of public sector reform, which in turn is a direct response to some of the early implementation problems of structural adjustment programs (SAP). It has received much less attention than public sector reform (PSR) as donors, policy makers and researchers have tended to focus more on internal structural, governance and process issues, rather than on the nature, scope, and impact of retrenchment.1 Yet, in terms of institutional and human capital development and utilization, it is important to pay attention to retrenchment and to draw lessons of experience applicable to other forms of adjustment such as military demobilization.
The purpose of this paper is fourfold. First, it provides an estimate of the size and scope of retrenchment in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1980s and early 1990s. Second, it outlines some of the common approaches used for retrenchment. Third, it discusses the impact of retrenchment
especially in terms of costs, labor markets, gender, individual and regional aspects. Finally, it attempts to draw lessons from retrenchment and their potential relevancy for demobilization.