Environment, Politics and suistainable development. African resources

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"The words "Environment" and "Politics" together encapsulate the
contemporary causes of the persisting poverty in Africa"

Yes, I agree. But at the beginning of the 21 century that is not go so
far in the analyse of poverty. For me seems obvious to find in the
deteriorated environment, and in the fragile and new democracies and
civil societies in Africa, the main issues that require all our
attention if we want to provide African Continent an affordable future
for its people and its habitats.

The point now is how can we really put them together in the aim of
preserve the nature and, how can we use the natural resource base for
the economic growth, in conditions of equality and fair distribution.

Economic growth only can happen in accordance with the environment.
Without the environment there are no possibilities of improvement, and
is in there and in the people where you can find the richness every

It must be a main objective for the world population reserve the rapid
degradation of ecosystems, assuring their capacity to provide the
ecosystems goods and services on which human well-being and fight
against poverty depend, being able to manage ecosystems and reduce our
own impacts, so that they remained healthy and productive in the face of
increasing human demands.




Stock resources are the sum total of materials to be found in the
environment - anything and everything with mass, inert o biological,
plus all forms of energy, kinetic, physical and chemical.

Resources have purpose and value, and are defined in cultural, economic
and ecological terms. They may be classified as renewable or
non-renewable. Some renewable, may also be described as flow resources,
a term used to emphasise that these occur as part of a cycle or closed
system of movement. Great example for is water, a renewable resource
which availability is in dependence of the hydrological cycle.

There is a paradox concerned to some resources that have a very long
cycle in time that made considered them as a non-renewable resources,
for example fossil fuels and minerals.  The process of genetic evolution
also classified plants and wildlife species into non-renewable
resources. If they extinct, they are lost forever.

Looking at the future, there are resources that have achieved the status
of reserves, for future development, in the context of the present
techniques of discovery, current economy and technical conditions.

For a geographical view over the topic, the analyse of the resources
availability is fundamental. The concept of resources requires
discussion of how substances become available for use, the advantage of
one location of occurrence as opposed to another, and how the use itself
came to be regarded as important.

Most of the raw materials of value to this society do not originate
locally. For study the environment possibilities together the poverty,
is important to realise that under certain circumstances, the import and
export of certain raw materials, is a great disadvantage of the home
country. Referring on that, the term strategic resource has emerged in
recent years

A resource is anything that people in society value and can use. But,
how?, when?, where?, whom?...

As a political, economical, and also cultural and social issue, the
environment as the support of everything. We live in there and because
of its possibilities.

The problem that appears within the regard to poverty along the world,
is the form this resources are being used and the few hands who are
moving them in one or other way. The most part of the times, causing
problems of overexploitation and not a just distribution. 


Make generalisations about Africa's environment is injudicious because
of the enormous variation. The consensus arrives in the fact that much
of Africa's physical environment is deteriorating (World Bank, "The
Population, Agriculture and Environment Nexus", pag.7)
Changes in Colonial times had dramatic shifts in land use, but other
changes occurring as well, as pressures to produce - from state
imperatives and the increasing demanding population - intensified the
ecological degradation: eroding soil, deteriorating range-lands,
dwindling forests, and diminishing water resources

Poor people from different regions in Africa was asked about a ranking
of the most important problems in their lives, and the one in the first
place was water scarcity, followed of the quality of firewood source,
the poor health and the low far productivity.

The participatory rural appraisal is a significant step forward in
understanding relationships between poor people and their environments
(BINNS, Tony; People and environment in Africa)


All of the resources under discussion, their use and development are
connected with societal values and technological progress.

For people who live under poverty that is even more important, because
basic resources such as food, water, firework and biomass, are needed
for the daily survival. With their precarious conditions, other options,
like alternative energies or the importation of food and water are no
possible or take too long and need a lot of changes coming with them.
Value-added resources, processed food, pulp paper, manufactured
commodities and nuclear energy are the prerogatives of the rich.

The European Community produced a surplus of food. And in the poorest
countries the lands and the human resources work on growing the cash
crops for export first than for their own consumption. That carries big
problems like the danger of the monocultive in dependence of the
whimsical demand of the richest countries market.

Western Europe was a willing consumer of tropical produce from
discovered colonies in Africa, Asia and America. And the exports become
fundamental for the Old Continent, who arise markets saturation in an
increasingly society with a very strong and active demand.

Those richest countries start contemplate environment like an important
issue in development, but they are still much more interested in
unemployment, national security and rising public expenditure, in the
wrong idea that environment preservation and sustainable development is
something that only can be afford in prosperous times.

At the same time, in the poorest countries environmental management is
given low priority, and it becomes more evident when confronted with
corporate imperialism.


The poorest countries in Africa have been unable to capture a major
share of the high value, refining or processing stage of raw materials
production. It is estimated that the cut received by the developing
countries is around 25% of final consumer price.


Water is one of the first problems in the African Continent. As a
resource, water has a lot of particularities and for the most part of
their uses there are no substitute.

Many countries facing new conditions as population grow, cities expand,
and sources of clean, are experienced important problems with water in
order of not be able to manage water in efficient, equitable and
environmentally accordance.

Corrupted and wrong policies are the main causes of the inefficient use
and waste of resource base. The problem becomes bigger in the countries,
which are affected by maybe the most terrible natural disaster:

Policies for improving human access to clean and reliable water supplies
and reversing watershed degradation must put their attention on the most
profitable way of make the water accessible to all population
necessities and all economic uses without break the natural balance.


Drought is considerate a natural disaster. People have nothing to do for
getting the rain from the sky except waiting for it. If we don't make
reference here to the climate change as the reason for severe drought in
some places in the world, seems obvious to think that human action has
nothing to do with that great problem, cause of uncountable numbers of
deaths all along Human History.

But, as it is shown in the previous section about the resource of water,
is obvious that most part of the problems caused by drought should, if
no disappear, at least, become lighter with a planed and good
management. That management must be competence, in my opinion, of an
international commission who take care about the specific problems of
each region, affected or not by drought, in relation with their economic
and social perspectives and possibilities. 


As S. George says:

 Hunger is not an unavoidable phenomenon like death and taxes...
Unfortunately for the millions of people who go hungry, the problem is
not a technical one... wherever they live, rich people eat first, they
eat a disproportionate amount of the food there is and poor ones rarely
rise in revolt against this most basic of oppression unless told to "eat
cake". Hunger is not a scourge but a scandal

In J.Fernie and Pitkethly book is said:

The basic problem of food production concerns how secure conditions can
be created so that investment in the technologies of increasing yields
and improving availability can take place. Food problems are
institutional: organized effort is necessary to promote economic growth
so that a proper diet may be afforded by all and investment secured in
food production and marketing.

In the 1960's and 1970's the resource problem of the persisting growth
of population and the relation with natural resources were introduced by
environmentalist and neo-Malthusians. Then, resources issues, world
population and world food, started appear together in several
internationals and national conferences with the aim of solving the
current problems of environmental degradation, over population and food


Development based on wildlife resources (biological diversity)
generating food and income for rural communities, involving both
non-consumptive and consumptive uses for the biological resources

Where efficient wildlife department manage wild population effectively,
biological diversity can be maintained and at the same time a harvest
benefit of the country and its people. (F. FALLOUX & L.M.TALBOT; Crisis
and opportunity: environment and development in Africa.)


In the necessary analysis of environment and poverty for the correct
formulation of sustainable development policies, we can immediately find
the double slope of the issue. If we focus the study in "environmental
poverty", then, we have to show the way the world is changing in
important physical aspects, most of them irreversible, and how different
habitats around the earth are being involved in a degradation process
which is condemning them to loose the global equilibrium.

In the other hand, we can find in the issue of related poverty and the
environment, how to show how people is getting poor and poor because of
the disappearance of natural resources, which involves one of the most
important richness for economic development all over the world. That is
even more obvious in developing and under-developed countries. 

So, the double slope is "the environmental poverty" and "the poor people
because of the environmental poverty"

The integration of environmental and developmental objectives has been
called in several times and from many different voices, like
institutions, organisations and mass media. But in fact, that
integration did not take place. Issue of population growth and
concentration, desertification, pollution and resource exploitation,
continued to be responsibility of specialised departments, while
macroeconomic policies focused on the maximisation of economic growth.
Environmental impacts were addressed to some extent by environmental
agencies without much influence, however, on the process of
socio-economic decision making in central governments.(BARTELMUS, P.:
Environment, Growth and Development)

But how can they go separated? The hoped economic growth won't last so
long without the necessaries.

Other question is if environmental and development objectives can look
at the future separated from the ethic and moral considerations that
should make us think about what is the reason for the human
appropriation of Nature.

We have in the past been concerned about the impacts of economic growth
upon the environment. And now we must, we are forced to, concern all
society with the ecological stress, upon our economic perspectives. Now,
the aim of accelerating ecological interdependence among nations is as
much important as it was the economic interdependence between nations
(WCED 1987: 5)


ATCHIA & TROPP; Environmental Management. Issues and solutions
Wiley (Great Britain, 1995)
BARTELMUS, P.; Environment, Growth and Development
Routledge (U.S.A., 1994)

BINNS, Tony; People and environment in Africa
Wiley (England, 1995)

F. FALLOUX & L.M.TALBOT; Crisis and opportunity: environment and
development in Africa.
Earthscan (LONDON, 1993)

FERNIE, J. & PITKETHTLY, A.S.; Resources, Environment & Policy
Harper & Row  (London, 1985)


1) Development <-----> Enviromental preservation

2) Development + Enviromental preservation h "Enviromental
(enviromental consideration in social and & economical development


In the concept of sustainable development is include:

* Reviving growth
* Changing the quality of growth
* Meeting essential needs for jobs, food, energy, water and sanitation
* Conserving and enchancing the resource base
* Reorientation technology and managing risk
* Merging environment and economics in decision-making
Source: WCED (1987: 49)

BARTELMUS, P.: Environment, Growth and Development


Actually, is believed that in a free market system, if people, at least
in the richest countries, feel interested in the conservation of the
environment, they will pay for it.

In fact, the most common process for that, as it is shown in the book of
Frenie and Pitkethly; Resources; environment & policy, pag152, appends


  STAGE                  AND

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(esto tiene flechas en circulo, pero no salen??)