The environmental problems seem to be key challenges of the XXIst century. In the previous years the world politics and every person in general was occupied with politics and wars. But with the development of new technologies, with the increasing number of plants and factories all kind of manufacturing in general, a huge shift was made towards the environmental issues. The terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments have declined in virtually all aspects. New developments in industry and manufacturing were root causes of environmental degradation over the past three decades. The rapid growth of population, urbanization and globalization are the driving force of the environmental problems. However, the challenge is extremely high not only for the well-developed regions, but in poor parts of the world as well. Such environmental problems as land degradation, deforestation, declining of marine resources and water scarcity of deteriorating of water and air quality are on the priority list in Africa. Despite, Africa possesses wealthy natural resources many Africans live in poverty unable to benefit from the African wealth because of uneven distribution across the continent and partly because of African complicated history over the past 50 years after the decolonization.
Africa has a vast majority of poor states and regions, and poverty is a major reason and consequence of the environmental degradation. The present paper ascertains the small research on the environmental issues in Africa. In the work I will analyze one Africa region, demonstrating its problems in the environment. At the end I will point out the root cause of these problems and suggest possible ways out, if there are any.
In general a vast majority of countries in Africa depend more on their natural resource base for economic and social needs than any other region in the world. Thus, two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s people live in rural areas and rely on agriculture and other natural resources for income. Sub-Saharan states of Africa are right the countries, where environmental problems are first on the agenda. The environmental problems have already waited a long time for their turn. Among them there are air and water pollution, inefficient use of natural resources, oil spills and so on. Environmental problems of sub-Saharan Africa also include air and water pollution, deforestation, loss of soil and soil fertility, and a dramatic decline in biodiversity throughout the region. nest paragraphs will face the problems in more details.
It is quite understandable that the environmental problems in Sub-Sahar region are crucial and severe. The most compelling problem in Sub-Saharan Africa is that it has one of the world’s fastest growing populations (approximately 2.2% a year). With the fast grow of the population the environmental challenge increase. By the year 2025 according to some estimation, the population of the African people will be over a billion. This means that the environmental challenges will definitely double or triple. Some literature indicate that Sub-African countries managed to perform more effective economic policies, which influenced the development in the region in general, but GDP growth has stagnated recently and it is obvious that with the stagnation of the economics will cause decrease in the solution of the ecological challenges.
Poverty also is the main factor that influences the development of the environmental issues. And it also exists in Sub-Sahar region, despite the region is not that poor in the comparison with other regions in Africa and in spite of the wealth natural resources. In general the problems in sub-Sahar and in Africa in common was addressed during the World Summit on sustainable Development (WSSD) which was help 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 n 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. According to reports the use of wood for fuel is predominant in both rural and urban locations and accounts for approximately 70% of total energy use. This cause another problem deforestation. In Sub-Sahara region Nigeria consistently leads to commercial energy consumption. Thus, according to data in 2001, Nigeria consumed 0.92 quadrillion Btu (quads), 32% of all energy consumed in the region. Although domestic demand for energy consumption in sub-Saharan Africa is growing rapidly, consumption levels remain well below world averages. I would like to mention but few words about deforestation. 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. Deforestation causes another problem – 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. Oil pollution is one of the issues that must be specified being a controversial subject of heated discussion among the representatives of the academia. 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.
5Agriculture. 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. Land degradation is also a serious environmental problem. However, Africa owns vast areas of unexploited arable land which could be exploited in the future through the integrated management of land, water and human resources.
After the Summit was held sub-Saharan Africa many problems were clear. To summarize, the address of environmental issues first of all lie in environmental awareness. But what was done to address the challenges? First, many problems in this region received more attention than in past and The United States pledged $4.5 billion over the next three years to combat HIV/AIDS and improve access to safe water. Many projects were launched by international organizations and NGOs in order to promote forest conservation. European Union was also involved in the process of combating the issues and helped in brining water and sanitation services. These events were helpful but did not solve the whole spectrum of problems. Moreover, it is clear that external participation is not obviously enough in addressing complicated problems. It is understandable that local governments have to work hard on the solving. The environmental problems that were addressed in the paper are not unique and can be found in many regions of our planet, especially where poverty flourish. But not only poverty is the decisive factor in pollution. Russia, for example is the state which suffers from the water and air pollution caused by nuclear developments. The problem was not resolved completely as Russia does not want to cease the development of nuclear infrastructure, but it was addressed at least party. It is important to notice that a vast majority of states face environmental issues and problems, they may vary from region to region, but in general almost every region on this planet where urbanization or globalization takes place is a subject to environmental problems. Moreover, environmental issues may vary from one region to another, but still may have an impact upon different sphere of economics or social spheres. To cap it all the environmental issues need regular monitoring, assessments and public reports of the state.
Water pollution is one of the examples of growing global awareness and efforts made to combat the issue. It must be noticed that the environmental impacts associated with oil exploration and development was the controversy surrounding the World Bank’s approval of the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project in June 2000.
Thus, the summit, which was held on Sub-Sahar issue draw the attention of a number of developing states and the world hegemony the United States as well as regional or international organizations. The awareness of the problems made these entities to collaborate on the issue. The increase of problems awareness influenced also the attention of local governments. But it is clear that some states of Africa because of their poverty undoubtedly need the interference of stronger states in the resolution of the problems. It was stated at the beginning of the paper that environmental problems are rather new and some of them are not more that 10 or 20 year old. To most extent they were caused by globalization and urbanization. Thus, is they are caused by global inadequate levels of population grow and demands for more water and oil, then the burden of their resolution is also global. It is true that the increase in environmental awareness made people more persistent in the demands toward local governments. But the forceful demands are not enough, as significant regions in Africa are poor and suffer from poverty issue. This means that it is important to increase environmental awareness within the general public, but because of poverty it can not lead sometimes to strong and necessary changes. Hence, the key challenge for Sub-African region is to reduce poverty. New approaches must be found and it is important to organize investment climate. Establishing a positive investment climate in Africa is increasingly important to face the environmental problems in the regions, which are only involved in oil production.