Africa and The Dilemma of Environmental Pollution

Environmental sustainability is a pressing concern in today’s globalized world as both developed and developing countries continue to institute measures for addressing the dire consequences of climate change and environmental pollution. Despite this, the challenge of environmental pollution continues to fester in most parts of the world, particularly in many African countries. The dilemma of environmental pollution in Africa has no doubt been exacerbated by several factors both domestic and external, some of which will be discussed in this article.

Africa is often regarded as one of the most richly endowed continents on earth with abundant natural and mineral resources. Unfortunately, due to the ineptitude of African leaders and poor or wasteful management, these resources are yet to culminate into a real developmental turnaround for the continent. African countries are among the poorest in the world. High rates of poverty in many African countries have made it challenging for the continent to manage its environment. Impoverished communities heavily rely on their environment for sustenance and therefore become exploitative in their use of the environment. It is estimated that over 71 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa live in extreme poverty and significant flood risk.

Another major impediment to environmental sustainability in Africa is lack of adequate infrastructures, particularly in rural areas, semi-urban and urban slums. Lack of key infrastructures such as drainages and waste disposal systems result in pollution. For instance, in several urban slums, where there are very few public toilets available to serve the bulging population, this often results in open defecation. It is also not uncommon to see a man urinating by the side of the road in broad daylight. When there are no facilities to cater for people’s needs, they result in self-help, which of course can be damaging to the environment. Basically, urbanization without adequate waste disposal measures, will no doubt breed environmental pollution.

While Africa’s natural resources may have contributed to the wealth of the continent, it has no doubt also had devastating implications on the environment as the exploitation of these resources often result in immense environmental pollution. The Niger-Delta region in Nigeria for example has been at the receiving end of the environmental consequences of oil activities for several decades. Oil spillages have raised major environmental concerns in countries like Angola and Nigeria. In South Africa, coal combustion and gold mining have resulted in extreme mercury emission. Also, poorly managed agricultural activities, refuse dumps, and the proliferation of auto-mechanic workshops are a number of factors that have resulted into soil pollution in Africa.

In conclusion, without doubt, the environment is central to man’s survival and if Africa is to develop, it cannot ignore its environment as the consequence of such will be grave. In the past three decades, Africa is said to have experienced over 2,000 major disasters, including floods, drought and cyclones. In the year 2019, about 33 million people in East and Southern Africa were affected by climate crises, which also claimed the lives of at least 1200 people from the region. There is need for urgent action to be taken to address environmental pollution and climate issues in Africa. More needs to be done to address poverty, provide infrastructures and regulate the activities of multinational companies in Africa. We cannot continue to ruin the future of this great continent by carelessly exploiting its wonderful environment.

©Fatherland Gazette

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