* The World Bank has taken its first concrete steps in implementing a special program for sub-Saharan Africa first announced in September.

The bank has approved $8.9 million in assistance for agricultural research and for development programs. The package also includes funds for additional staff to work on Africa and to increase the number of World Bank missions in the region.

* The International Development Association, the World Bank's affiliate for concessionary lending, has approved $150 million in assistance to Pakistan for a water drainage and irrigation program expected to benefit more than 1 million people.

The project is the first stage of a program to provide drainage relief and improve agricultural production along the left bank of the Indus River in central Sind, where about 25 percent of the country's irrigated land is located.

IDA is joining several cofinancers to support the drainage project, which will cost about $636 million. The cofinancers -- the Asian Development Bank, the Saudi Fund for Development, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Overseas Development Administration of the U.K., the Swiss Development Corp., and the OPEC Fund for Development -- are expected to provide more than $267 million in loans and grants. The Pakistan government is contributing $218.6 million.

* The IDA has approved two loans totaling $16 million to Nepal to promote investments in private industry and to upgrade the quality of training in the agricultural sector.

The Nepal Industrial Development Corp. will use a $7.5 million loan to finance private industrial enterprises and studies on industrial and export incentives, on light engineering products and on tourism promotion.

A second IDA credit of $8.4 million will be used to improve the quality of training for middle- and higher-level agricultural staff.

Nepal is contributing $1.8 million towards the cost of the project, while the U.S. Agency for International Development is providing $4.1 million.

The credits from IDA are for 50 years, including a 10-year grace period. They carry no interest but have small annual charges.