Photo of President Diouf President Diouf is a preeminent statesman and leader on behalf of his continent - a man committed to the principle that the primary responsibility for a nation's social and economic advance lies, in the first instance, with its own leaders.
Prior to assuming the presidency of Senegal in 1981, Abdou Diouf had worked 20 years in his nation's service. In the 1960's, he served in the ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Planning and Industry; throughout the 1970's, he was prime minister in the government of Leopold Senghor, the father of modern Senegal.
Today, President Diouf is a spokesman for Africa in the global arena. As chairman of the Organization of African Unity in 1985-86, he played a pivotal role in forging a continent-wide consensus on the priority program for Africa's recovery. He eloquently represented Africa at the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Critical Economic Situation in Africa (May 1986). At that historic meeting, he personally undertook to achieve the adoption of the United Nations Programme of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development.
President Diouf has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in many regional organizations of West Africa. As president of CILSS, the Permanent Inter-State Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel, President Diouf reacted swiftly in 1986 and 1987 when a locust infestation threatened Sahelian food crops. Through his effective coordination and leadership, the CILSS member states were able to mount emergency control programs and mobilize substantial international assistance. This year, because of his emphasis on regional coordination and enhanced national crop protection services, CILSS members are much better prepared to effectively combat another, and possibly equally serious, infestation.
Within Senegal, President Diouf has launched an extensive program of policy reforms in all sectors, particularly the agricultural sector. His programs include the New Agricultural Policy, The New Industrial Policy and the fight against desertification through afforestation campaigns. Under his leadership in the past three years, Senegal's economic growth has recovered from -4.0 to +4.2 percent. In 1986, he created a program designed to boost cereal production from 750,000 tons to 1,700,000 tons by the year 2000, through more rational utilization of land and water resources.
President Diouf's commitment to the general well-being of the people of Senegal has been vividly expressed in the area of health care. Working with UNICEF, President Diouf achieved the historic feat of making Senegal the first African country to reach the 1990 goal of the World Health Organization's target for Universal Child Immunization (75 percent coverage). Prior to his personal intervention in September 1986, immunization coverage was less than 20 percent. President Diouf has now pledged to surpass 80 percent by April 1988. This successful Senegalese initiative is now being replicated in other African states.