First World Business Consultants on Africa's Poverty and Environment

The UN Conference on Environment & Development recognises both the relationship between poverty & environmental degradation in underdeveloped countries, as well as the problem of unsustainable production and consumption patterns.
June 8, 2008 - PRLog -- The protection of the environment and of natural resources is an essential part of development: without adequate environmental capital, development is undermined and this in turn may reduce the resources available for investing in combating environmental damage, and hence poverty alleviation is not only a moral imperative but also a prerequisite for environmental sustainability and sustainable development (World Bank );
Africa faces many challenges relating to sustainable development. Over the past 30 years, the environment in Africa has continued to deteriorate. Thousands of people in Africa have already died from starvation brought about by environmental degradation. Millions more people are faced with imminent disaster because their water sources have run dry, their land has become so denuded they cannot rear livestock, and the soil so poor they cannot cultivate it. According to the FAO "poverty alleviation and environmental protection will remain the most important priorities over the next two decades". In this respect, empowering key stakeholders through policy and institutional changes and creating conditions to support sustainable resource management would be the main thrust of strategies in most countries;
The region's severe environmental problems like soil erosion and declining soil fertility, deforestation, pollution of water supplies, and biodiversity loss are everyday, real and critical concerns to the African people. The unsustainable management and utilization of natural resources has been exacerbated by poverty and population pressures. With the world's fastest growing population, averaging about 3% a year, the region will be home to more than a billion people by the year 2025. The continent's population growth rate ranks highest in the world and therefore places additional strains on all systems. Poverty is endemic and has perpetuated under-development and mismanagement of resources (UNEP);
Persistent poverty has contributed to accelerated degradation of natural resources. The majority of poor people live in rural areas and depend directly or indirectly on terrestrial and marine natural systems for income generation. It is estimated that two-thirds of the region's people live in rural areas and depend primarily on agriculture and other natural resources for income. In Africa, the poor depend on natural ecosystems for their livelihoods and live in the most fragile and degraded rural and urban areas. Though offering an enormous potential in natural and human resources, Africa is plagued by a rampant poverty affecting both rural and urban populations along with tremendous impacts on the environment. Alongside this situation, the standard of living has drastically deteriorated due to the lack of an efficient system of domestic and/or industrial waste management.
The region is losing its natural resources at relatively rapid rates in comparison with other regions of the world. Africa is losing millions of hectares of forest every year. Its wildlife population of rich and unique species of animals and plants is under increasing pressure. Africa’s biological resources are declining rapidly as a result of climate variability, habitat loss, over harvesting of selected resources, and illegal activities. Yet biodiversity contributes to poverty reduction in at least five key areas (food security; health improvement; income generation, reduced vulnerability, ecosystem services);
Environmental degradation contributes markedly to many health threats, including polluted air, dirty water, poor sanitation, and insect-transmitted diseases such as malaria. Lack of availability and low quality of freshwater are the two most limiting factors for development in Africa, constraining food production and industrial activities, and contributing significantly to the burden of disease. Land degradation and water shortages in many parts of Africa are a major threat to the ability of the poor farmers to earn a living from the land. Land quality and productivity are declining in cultivated areas, rangelands and forests which results are reduced agricultural yields, affecting economies and food security; desertification of arid areas, raising competition for remaining resources; and increased potential for conflict. Land degradation impacts are felt most keenly by the poor because they are forced to cultivate on river shores and marginal lands such as desert margins which get degraded more rapidly. The poor also often live in degraded urban environments, including sites close to waste disposal areas or vulnerable to flooding;
Real, lasting poverty reduction is only possible if the environment is able to provide the services people depend on, and if natural resources are used in a manner that does not undermine long-term development. African countries’ ever increase population demands creative efforts to find new ways of producing more food from the country’s finite resources. African governments should link biodiversity conservation with policies on overcoming poverty, especially in local communities that live around protected areas and in zones richly endowed with biodiversity, through the sustainable use of the resources.

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First World Business Consultants offers services in the following areas:-Strategic Environmental and Sustainability Information; Environmental Policy and Programmes; Environmental Management Systems; Environmental Auditing, Assessment and Training; Report and Systems Verification; Assurance Programmes; Environmental policies and legislation are changing rapidly, as is the manner in which these are interpreted and applied.

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