The State of the Environment in Africa

In Africa, the problem of environmental degradation has social roots, and poverty alleviation is a prerequisite for sustainable development. In most African regions, the majority of poor people live in rural areas and depend directly or indirectly on terrestrial and marine natural systems for income generation. 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.

Current local air-and water-quality conditions in many African countries result in millions of premature deaths, especially among women and children. Long-term poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth are being undermined by the continuing degradation of soils, the increasing scarcity of freshwater, the over-exploitation of coastal ecosystems and fisheries, the loss of forest cover, the loss of biological diversity at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level, and long-term changes in the Earth’s climate.

Climate change is projected to cause significant increases in famine and hunger in many of the world’s poorest areas, which, especially in Africa, depend on isolated agricultural systems. Sub-Saharan Africa depends more on its environmental resource base for its economic and social needs than any other region in the world. But with the natural resource base declining alarmingly, the entire region, rural and urban, is being profoundly affected. Two-thirds of the region’s people live in rural areas and depend primarily on agriculture and other natural resources for income. To them, 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.

In Africa, the impact of deforestation and desertification affect farmers, especially women. With fewer trees, women find it more difficult to obtain fuel and water and to adequately feed their families; to ensure good health and nutrition; to obtain cash incomes to cover other basic needs, such as education; and in general, to control the circumstances of their lives.

Conserve Africa Foundation aims to reverse the above environmental trends by initiating community natural resource management and capacity building programmes in partnership with local environmental NGOs and associations. Based on the knowledge that the African environment and rural economic growth are inextricably linked, CA activities address the linkages between poverty, natural resources and the environment, strengthening local capacity; and preserving the continent’s bio-resources.