Monday, August 20, 2012


Source: African Renewal April 2012 In preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, Africa’s heads of state and ministers held meetings on a consensus response. Africa’s priority areas some of which are highlighted below show a mix of challenges and progress. AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY AND FOOD SECURITY Increasing commitments to Agricultural productivity Agriculture employs 60% of Africa’s labour force, while three fifth of farmers work at a subsistence level. Efforts in many African countries to increase agricultural production have not guaranteed food security. Africa still relies on rain-fed agriculture, making it vulnerable to harsh weather conditions, including climate change. Africa’s food insecurity has been further worsened by the threat of rising food prices caused by increased incomes in countries such as China, India and Brazil, the growing use of land for bio-fuels and the subsidies rich countries offer their own farmers. African leaders need the developed world to increase its commitments to assist agricultural productivity and food security in the continent. They have committed themselves – through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), adopted in July 2003 under the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) – to allocate at least 10% of national budgets to agriculture. They also aim to boost growth in agricultural production to at least an average 6% a year. Countries such as Sierra Leone that have increased budgetary allocations have improved their productivity. INDUSTRIAL DEVELOMENT Action to boost manufacturing Africa’s industries – manufacturing, mining and construction – are weak. The sector currently employs only 15% of Africa’s workforce. The share of manufactures in Africa’s exports fell from 43% in 2000 to 39% in 2008. Labour intensive manufacturing such as textiles, fabricated materials, apparel and leather products declined from 23% of all manufacturing in 2000 to 20% in 2009. African leaders in February 2008 adopted a Plan for Action for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa. South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia have made improvements. WATER Providing access to safe drinking water Africa is a dry continent, second only to Australia. Around 340 million Africans have no access to safe drinking water, about 40% of the world’s total. Estimates indicate that only 26 out of 54 African countries will meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the percentage of population without water access to safe drinking water by 2015. Uneven water distribution is one problem. Central Africa accounts for 48% of Africa’s internal water supply, while North Africa has only 1.25%. The infrastructure capacity to provide safe water is also uneven: although 90% of people in North Africa have access to safe drinking water, only 61% of people in sub-Saharan Africa do. Gambia and Cape Verde, however, provide clean water to 80% of their populations. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), harvesting rainwater could provide water for half of all Africans. HAZARDOUS WASTES For environmentally sound management Africa’s infrastructure and land use planning are unable to cope with the rapid growth of urban areas (currently 3.5% per year), adding to the discharge of wastes in water and other uncontrolled places. African leaders have asked the international community to support the transfer of knowledge and technology for environmentally sound management of wastes. They also want support to strengthen capacity to control imports and exports of wastes into and within Africa. Many African countries have met their commitments under the Dakar Declaration to ban leaded gasoline. The International atomic Energy is helping some countries to safely manage radioactive wastes, especially with the discovery of Uranium in a number of African countries. Gambia, Nigeria and Senegal, among others, have started implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, to help standardize their handling. CLIMATE CHANGE Protecting an especially vulnerable continent In Africa, climate change is hindering progress towards sustainable development by contributing to reduced rainfall, hotter temperatures, flooding and the spread of water borne diseases such as Cholera. Africa accounts for only 2-3% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Africa’s biggest contributors are South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Nigeria. While it contributes relatively little to global greenhouse gas emissions, Africa’s low adaptive capacity makes it more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. If greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed, scientists agree, average global temperature could rise 4-5 degrees centigrade within a century, which would be calamitous, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Currently the Horn of Africa is facing its worst drought in over 60 years. ENERGY Enhancing the efficient use of energy resources Of the 1.4 billion people world wide without access to energy, 40% are in sub-Saharan Africa. The continent’s energy development lags behind the growth of its population and socio-economic needs, according to a NEPAD report. Africa, with 1% of the world’s population, produces 7% of global commercial energy, but consumes only 3% of it. “Thus, most of the commercial energy it produces is consumed elsewhere,” states NEPAD. In sub-Saharan Africa, traditional fuels, such as firewood, constitute two-thirds of energy consumption. African leaders have endorsed a 10-year programme on sustainable consumption and production to enhance the efficient use of energy resources. SUSTAINABLE TOURISM Africa is the fastest growing tourist destination in the world About 7.7 million people are employed in Africa’s tourism and travel sector, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. In 2004, NEPAD approved a Tourism action Plan to make Africa the “21st century destination.” Most African governments have tourism in their development strategies, including marketing, research and development, and codes of conduct for tourism. There are plans to invest in major projects likely to generate spin-offs and enhance Africa’s economic integration. Tourist arrivals in Africa grew 8.8% in 2009 – 2010, the highest rate for any region. Morocco, Angola, Cape Verde, Madagascar, Egypt and South Africa are recording double-digit growth, while Tanzania and Mauritius are not far behind. However, tourism slowed in North Africa due to recent political developments. GENDER EQUALITY African women’s involvement in politics is increasing Twenty nine African countries have ratified the protocol of the African Charter Promoting Women’s Rights. All but 10 African countries have adopted the Convection on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The African Union (AU) launched in October 2010 the African Women’s Decade. In addition, 18 of 28 countries where female genital mutilation was widely practiced have outlawed it, with a goal of totally eliminating it by 2015. African Women’s involvement in politics is increasing. In 2008 Rwanda elected a majority of women to its lower chamber of parliament, the highest worldwide. Africa’s first female President, Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf of Liberia was elected in 2005 and then re-elected in 2011. Despite such gains, only 76 girls for every 100 boys are enrolled in colleges and universities in Africa, 91 girls for every 100 boys in primary schools and 79 girls for every 100 boys in secondary schools. EDUCATION AND HEALTH Many countries are on track to achieve Universal Primary Education (UPE) Many African countries are on track to achieving the MDG target of Universal Primary Education (UPE) by 2015. Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania have abolished school fees for primary education. However,, 30 million children mostly girls still have no access to education and there is an acute need for more trained teachers. At the tertiary levels, enrolment is just 6%, while up to 40% of faculty positions are vacant. Most African countries face high prevalence of Malaria, HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular ailments. In 2008 Africa accounted for half of the world’s 8.8 million child deaths. But there is also good news. Since 1990, under – five mortality in sub-Saharan Africa has declined by 22%. In 2008, some 76% of one – year – olds were immunized against measles, compared to 58% in 1990. Mozambique has achieved a reduction in infant mortality of more than 70%, Malawi of 68% and Niger of 64%. Burundi, Cape Verde and Egypt have also registered impressive progress in reducing infant mortality. ECOLOGICAL DEGRADATION Safeguarding forests and natural habitats Africa is losing 4 million hectares of forest every year, twice the world’s average deforestation rate. While deforestation may increase agricultural land, it also leads to only short lived agricultural productivity as land nutrients are depleted. Approximately 50% of Africa’s eco-regions have lost 50% of their areas to degradation, cultivation or urbanization, according to UNEP. Africa still has over 2 million square kilometers of protected areas. Nevertheless, the continent’s coastal areas continue to confront problems associated with oil and mineral extractions, uncontrolled fishing, mismanagement of mangrove forests and coastal development. Forest trees are being used to build shelters and for charcoal, destroying the habitats of many species.

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