As analyzed on the last issue, among the many environmental problems that are on the priority list of Africa include: land degradation, deforestation, declining of marine resources and water scarcity of deteriorating of water and air quality. More to these problems and more to the pressing issue on HIV/AIDS (that was also discussed last issue) that has been taken a serious toll on this region are the tropical diseases.
Tropical diseases are one of the main environmental problems of Africa S. of the Sahara. This tropical climate creates epidemics such as malaria, river blindness, cholera, Ebola, and sleeping sickness. Sleeping sickness comes from tsetse fly infestations from the cattle. Sleeping sickness has had the power of killing more than 200,000 people in one year.
Like HIV/AIDS, these tropical diseases have a cure, except of course that many people can not afford health care to treat it. So, the problem goes beyond the surface level.
Environmental problems in Africa have been discussed on considered on the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) which was held in South Africa in August 2002. Basically, the material of the summit points out main environmental problems and challenges. The key issues which dominate African environmental problems were addressed during the summit. They include:
1. Water pollution and sanitation. First of all water pollution is caused by oil transmission in ship ports, water resources poor management, lack of financial resources required for sustainable development and efficient utilization of resources, absence of effective regional and basin development plans and shared management, and under-estimation of the groundwater potential to supplement irrigation and drinking water supplies. Thus, Africa’s freshwater problems are acute and worsening. Freshwater shortage is the two greatest limits to development in Africa;
2. Energy. Energy consumption in sub-Saharan Africa varies dramatically and dominates fuel consumption. Africa is home to one of the world’s largest rain forests. It is obvious that rain forests are lungs of the Earth and their reduction cause air pollution. They protect and stabilize soils, recycle nutrients and regulate the quality and flow of water. Deforestation is one of the most pressing environmental problems not only in Africa but in other parts of the world and has negative implications for the local and global environment. Forests cover about 22 per cent of the region, but they are disappearing faster than anywhere else in the developing world. During the 1980s Africa lost 10.5 per cent of its forests. Thus, African forests are shrinking as a result of deforestation;
3. Biodiversity. The richness of African biodiversity requires greater protection and a sustainable use that will ensure the income of those who depend on it. There is a need to maximize biodiversity landscape protection, to give priority to biodiversity areas close to areas of high population density, and to give balanced attention to such regions as the arid and semi-arid areas;
4. Oil pollution. In a number of countries such as Nigeria and Angola, fore example, oil is the principle source of benefits. However it is pretty clear that new technologies used in oil exploration are extremely harmful for the environment. Environmental problems are common and rise heated debates. On the one hand, it expands relations among states, diversify trade relations, bring benefits. But, on the other hand, the benefits from oil are not fairly distributed among the population. The revenues from oil mainly belong to some local government communities or certain groups of interest. But the commons of Sub-Sahara have to face the oil-related problems;
5. Agriculture. Increased food insecurity resulting from rapid population growth, degradation of agriculture and arable lands, and mismanagement of available water resources combined with poor economic policies to support food production.
The summit was therefore very essential. Not only they identified the environmental problems in Africa, also they seek solutions to solve these serious problems.
To summarize, the address of environmental issues first of all lie in environmental awareness. To cap it all the environmental issues need regular monitoring, assessments and public reports of the state.
It is noting to submit however that these problems that Africa encounter aren’t exclusive to them. They are present and are even malignant to other regions of the world.