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Saturday, 29 January 2011

Africa Environmental Sustainability

The Congo Basin

African forests are a key piece of the climate puzzle and they are the livelihood of tens of millions.
The Congo Basin rainforest is the second largest on earth, taking up an area three times the size of France. About half lies within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the rest stretches across Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/forests/africa/

Africa's Future Lies in a Green Energy Grid

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Dec 14, 2010 (IPS) - Development in Africa could falter as climate change grips the continent, increasing the length and severity of droughts and floods by altering precipitation patterns, among other impacts.

The region needs a major shift in its economic development policies and thinking towards decentralised, green economic development, experts now say.

"The world's big economies are largely living off financial transactions which are unconnected to development," warns Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary-general of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Africa: Key Issues at Cancun

http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/can1012a.php


Adaptation: An Essential Response to Climate Change

Adaptation has been the “ugly duckling” of climate change for decades. In the climate change policy community, no one wanted to talk about adaptation — instead, we wanted to see emissions reduced to the point where no one need worry about impacts like sea level rise or droughts.

http://blog.conservation.org/2010/12/adaptation-essential-response-to-climate-change/

Urbanization and Environmental Sustainability

Now home to half of the world's people, cities are increasingly at the forefront of our most pressing environmental challenges. While the current pace of urbanization is not unique in human history, the sheer magnitude of urban growth--driven by massive demographic shifts in the developing world--is unprecedented, with vast implications for human well-being and the environment. However, where cities pose environmental problems, they also offer solutions. As hotspots of consumption, production, and waste generation, cities possess unparalleled potential to increase the energy efficiency and sustainability of society as a whole

http://earthtrends.wri.org/updates/node/287

Climate change winners and losers in Sahel

Submitted by Camilla Toulmin on Wed, 22/12/2010 - 07:29

Earlier this month, I spent a week in Mali, going back to the villages which I have studied for the past 30 years. While international climate negotiators met in Cancun, Mexico, for the UN summit on climate change, I was keen to catch up on how climate change was affecting livelihoods in the West African Sahel.

This year has brought heavy rain to much of the region and with it, a mixed bag of impacts on yields of the local staple crop, millet. For farmers in the Kala region north of Segou in central Mali, the heavy rainfall has been good for the long-cycle sanyo millet, which takes 6–7 months to mature. But the fast-growing souna millet, which matures in 3–4 months, has performed poorly. This is partly due to impoverishment of soils. “When rain falls heavily you need a lot of power in the soil — that power is supplied by animal dung. That’s what creates the heat that supplies energy to the crop,” says local farmer Ganiba Dembele, showing me the yellow leaves of the souna millet. He and other farmers recognise that their plots need to be replenished with dung each year if they are to produce well, particularly in wetter growing conditions. “We’ve increased the size of our fields so much, we can’t get enough dung from our flocks and herds to keep them well-fertilised. It’s lucky we have sanyo to make up the deficit,” he adds.
http://www.iied.org/sustainable-markets/blog/climate-change-winners-and-losers-sahel

CLIMATE CHANGE: Adaptation Fund starts delivering

Johannesburg, 24 September 2010 (IRIN) - In what is being hailed as a breakthrough for a "collective effort" by developed and developing countries, the Adaptation Fund set up by the UN to help poor countries cope with the unfolding impact of climate change has finally become operational.

Last week, the Fund's board approved two adaptation projects, one in Senegal - threatened by sea-level rise, less rainfall and high temperatures - and the other in Honduras, which faces increasing water shortages.

The two projects worth a total of about US$14 million are not only the first to be approved by the board but also the first to get money directly from the Fund. Developing countries had been lobbying for direct access, and have now been granted control over how to spend the funds.

http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportId=90571

Indigenous peoples key to timber trade policy

ITTO's Civil Society Advisory Group (l to r): Chen Hin Keong, Global Forest Trade Programme Leader, TRAFFIC; Cecile Ndjebet, Coordinator, Cameroon Ecology and President of REFACOF – African Women’s Network for Community Forest Management; Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director, ITTO; Christine Wulandari, FKKM – Indonesian Community Forestry Communications Forum; Augusta Molnar, Rights and Resources Institute; Francis Colee, Green Advocates, LiberiaYokohama, Japan, 18th December 2010—The views of indigenous peoples and community-based organizations are an essential element of forestry and climate change debates, and their opinions are vital in shaping policies and decisions in the forestry sector, a key timber meeting in Japan this week was told.
http://www.traffic.org/home/2010/12/18/indigenous-peoples-key-to-timber-trade-policy.html
Assessing Utilization of Low-input Agriculture Technologies (liats) in Malawi: Adoption and Challenges for the Malawian Subsistence Farmer
http://www.tropical-gardener.com/articles/assessing-utilization-of-low-input-agriculture-technologies-liats-in-malawi-adoption-and-challenges-for-the-malawian-subsistence-farmer/

Environmental Assessments for Sierra Leone Help Sustainable Development

Freetown, 20 December 2010 The vital role of environmental assessments in supporting the sustainable use of Sierra Leone's rich natural heritage has won high level support at a seminar entitled 'Environmental Assessment: A Tool for Sustainable Development', which took place last week in the country's capital of Freetown

http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=653&ArticleID=6871&l=en


Kenya: HIV-Positive Woman On Food Aid Now Selling Food To WFP

Anne Rono is a small farmer, but after contracting HIV, lost the strength to farm her land. With the help of antiretroviral drugs and nutritious food, she’s not only back on her feet but selling her crops to WFP through an innovative new programme that links small farmers to markets.

http://www.wfp.org/stories/kenya-hiv-positve-woman-food-aid-now-selling-food-wfp

Community-based initiatives more effective against female genital cutting – UN

18 November 2010 – Initiatives to encourage communities in Africa to abandon female genital mutilation or cutting are more effective when used to reinforce the positive aspects of local cultures and build trust by implementing development projects, the findings of a United Nations study released today show.
“Rather than ‘fighting’ against local culture and presenting traditional behaviours as negative, effective programmes propose alternative mechanisms to signal adherence to shared community values and to frame the discussion surrounding FGM in a non-threatening way,” it states.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=36793&Cr=women&Cr1=

UN survey shows declining water availability in Africa, highlights solutions
25 November 2010 – The amount of water available per person in Africa is declining and only 26 of the continent's 53 countries are currently on track to reduce by half the number of people without sustainable access to clean drinking water by 2015, according to a survey by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released today.
Furthermore, only five countries in Africa are expected to attain the target of reducing by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 2015, the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of targets agreed to by all countries and leading development institutions to meet the needs of the world's poores

Scientists show waves of deforestation across East Africa

A new study co-authored by a WWF scientist documents waves of forest degradation advancing like ripples in a pond 75 miles across East Africa in just 14 years.

Scientists from 12 organizations in Europe, Africa and the US demonstrated that forest exploitation begins with the removal of the most valuable products first, such as timber for export, followed by the extraction of less valuable products such as low value timber and charcoal in strict sequence. This ‘logging down the profit margin’ in tropical forests follows the same pattern of removal seen for fish in unmanaged oceans.
http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_we_work/conservation/forests/news/?uNewsID=194429

WWF and Mozambique government join forces to protect marine resources

WWF and Mozambique agreed to work together to boost marine life protection and develop joint mechanisms to better investigate and monitor fisheries of the country with a coastline of nearly 3000 kilometres.

With such a vast coastline, a continental shelf and an Exclusive Economic Zone of about 508.092 km², Mozambique has a great interest in improving marine resource management, a key factor for food security and sustainable development.

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/blue_planet/news/?uNewsID=197671


Madagascar drought forces farmers into charcoal devastation

Toliara, Madagascar - 2 years of drought and late arrival of the rainy season in south western Madagascar have forced hundreds of farmers into charcoal producing which is devastating forests, according to WWF field staff at Tollara.

“Charcoal production in the South of Madagascar is particularly unsustainable as people cut the natural spiny forest, a unique ecosystem which exists nowhere else” says Bernardin Rasolonandrasana, Spiny Forest Eco-regional Leader for WWF in Toliara. “We are horrified to see the amount of charcoal currently coming out of those forests.”

http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_we_work/conservation/forests/news/?uNewsID=194629

Logistics "acrobat" supports WWF in Goma

David Mapendano is a logistician for WWF in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. He supports the Virunga Environmental Program, or PEVi. He explains what motivated him to seek a career in conservation, and the day-to-day challenges he faces.

It all began at the summit of Nyiragongo. My secondary school had organized a climb up the volcano. At the edge of the crater I gazed at the view in front of me. I was enticed by the beauty of the site and immediately convinced that it should be preserved at all costs. I was 17 years old. I then started a little vegetable garden at home, where I grew carrots, cabbages and other vegetab

http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=195534

Prospects improve for vital world water treaty

Africa needs stronger fisheries management, ministers told

Banjul, Gambia: African countries need to take fisheries management seriously, the first ever continental meeting of fisheries ministers has been told.

The Forum of South West Indian Ocean Civil Societies reminded the inaugural Conference of African Ministers on Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA) that 200 Million Africans were dependent on fisheries for food and livelihood.
http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/blue_planet/news/?uNewsID=195130

UNESCO recognizes threats to Madagascar rainforest

http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=194431


The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has placed the Atsinanana Rainforest in Madagascar on its list of World Heritage in Danger sites because of an ongoing government-influenced illegal logging crisis and continuing lemur bush meat consumption in some of the national parks that are part of the forest.

UNESCO in a statement noted that despite a decree outlawing the exploitation and export of precious woods, Madagascar continues to provide export permits for illegally logged rosewood and ebony. It also said that other countries that have ratified the World Heritage Convention are known destinations for this timber

WWF welcomes Central African clampdown on smugglers

Yaoundé, Cameroon – An operation by special police forces earlier this week in Central African Republic (CAR) led to the arrest of an important wildlife smuggler and seizure of elephant tusks and cat skins.

This comes amidst a series of similar successful operations in Cameroon, Gabon and Republic of Congo. WWF applauds these efforts as they give a clear warning to wildlife traffickers in the region.

The RALF (French acronym for Strengthening of the Wildlife Law Enforcement) project aims to increase wildlife law enforcement activities and judiciary follow-up of wildlife crimes in the CAR, targeting mainly high-level wildlife traffickers. It works closely with the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior.

http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=197635


Traditional Knowledge Protection for African Cultures

Nine of the seventeen nations that form the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) signed a protocol on the protection of Traditional knowledge and folklore. The protocol is meant to protect creations derived from traditional knowledge of ARIPO member states. The protocol contains sections on assignments, licenses, and the recognition of knowledge holders. There are also provisions for compulsory licenses when there is a superceding state need. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) praised the protocol in an August 31 statement calling it “an historic step for ARIPO’s seventeen member states, and a milestone in the evolution of intellectual property.”

http://www.ipbrief.net/2010/09/23/traditional-knowledge-protection-for-african-cultures/

Mapping Ecosystems, the Better to Conserve Them

Environmentalists have a special affinity for maps. Whether terrestrial or marine, the environment and its ills are tied to a geography that can be expressed in a rectilinear scale.
As science progresses, so do the maps. Witness the latest effort from the state of Massachusetts.
To ensure that largely private efforts to set aside land do the most public good, the state Department of Fish and Game has just unveiled the latest and most elaborate version of its online BioMap, complete with instructions on how to use it.
http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/05/mapping-ecosystems-the-better-to-conserve-them/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Saving critical wilderness areas in Rwanda's forests

The forests of the Congo Basin are still exceptionally intact. But with this unique ecosystem threatened by political unrest in the region, a series of projects aims to ensure they stay that way.

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6179577,00.html

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

L'Unesco s'inquiète de l'état des sites naturels de RDC

L'Unesco s'inquiète de l'état des sites naturels de RDC



Vendredi 14 janvier, une réunion présidée par le Premier ministre congolais Adolphe Muzito et la directrice générale de l'Unesco Irina Bukova, s'est tenue à Kinshasa en République Démocratique du Congo. L'Organisation des Nations unies s'inquiète face aux menaces qui pèsent sur cinq sites naturels congolais classés au Patrimoine mondial.


Les cinq sites concernés sont les parcs nationaux des Virunga, de la Garamba, de Kahuzi-Biega, et de la Salonga, et la Réserve de faune à okapis. Ces sites abritent une diversité unique de plantes, mais aussi des animaux rares tels que le gorille des montagnes, l'okapi, ou le rhinocéros blanc du Nord. Les nombreuses crises qu'a traversées le pays au cours des vingt dernières années, mais aussi la déforestation et l'exploitation minière artisanale, mettent en danger cette richesse, souligne l'Unesco sur son site Internet.


Lors de la réunion organisée vendredi à Kinshasa, l'Organisation a tenu à assurer son soutien à la RDC, afin de l'aider à mettre en place une "gestion durable" des parcs classés au patrimoine mondial. "Je suis convaincue de la volonté de toute la communauté internationale à vous apporter tout le soutien nécessaire et vous savez que vous pouvez compter sur celui de l'Unesco", a ainsi déclaré Mme Bokova, citée par l'AFP.


De son côté, le ministre congolais de l'Environnement, José Endundo Bononge, a assuré que "la RDC est parvenue à assurer le maintien de ses aires protégées, dans des conditions parfois dramatiques", au fil des crises militaires qu'elle a connues. Dans une déclaration dite de Kinshasa, le gouvernement s'est toutefois engagé à mettre en oeuvre des mesures coercitives imposées par le comité du patrimoine mondial pour la réhabilitation de ces sites menacés.


http://fr.news.yahoo.com/68/20110119/tsc-l-unesco-s-inquite-de-l-tat-des-site-04aaa9b.html

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Pourquoi la justice environnementale et les droits de l’environnement en Afrique?

Le Bureau de la Justice Environnementale de l’Agence Américaine de Protection de l’Environnement définit la JE comme suit: "La Justice Environnementale est le traitement équitable et l’implication significative de toutes les personnes sans distinction de race, couleur, origine ou de revenu, dans le cadre de l’élaboration, la mise en œuvre et l’application des lois, réglementations et politiques environnementales".
En Afrique, la justice environnementale nécessite la lute contre les inégalités environnementales où qu’elles surviennent et la promotion de l’éducation des générations actuelles et futures, une éducation qui met l’accent sur les relations sociales et environnementales, sur la base de notre expérience et d’une appréciation de nos diverses perspectives culturelles. Les deux prémisses essentielles de la justice environnementale, c’est que d’abord, toute personne a le droit et doit pouvoir vivre dans un environnement sain, et qu’ensuite, c’est surtout les pauvres et les personnes les plus faibles qui manquent de ces conditions. Il en est ainsi parce que les problèmes environnementaux mondiaux (par exemple le changement climatique) et le manque d’accès aux rares ressources environnementales (par exemple l’énergie et l’eau) tendent à affecter plus durement les personnes les plus pauvres et les plus vulnérables.
La Déclaration de Rio de 1992 impose aux États de promulguer des lois nationales pour la gestion de l’environnement et pour garantir que les citoyens participent à cette gestion en leur donnant l’accès à l’information détenue par les autorités publiques par rapport à l’environnement et en leur assurant un accès effectif aux procédures administratives et judiciaires, notamment l’exercice du droit à la réparation et au recours.
L’accès à la justice nécessite que les structures gouvernementales et autres respectent non seulement les autres droits procéduraux d’accès à l’information et de participation mais également s’assurent que les droits environnementaux substantiels sont protégés afin que les citoyens aient l’opportunité de faire valoir leur droit à la réparation chaque fois qu’il y a une non-observance des droits environnementaux.
Au cours des dernières années, les organisations environnementales internationales accordent une attention accrue aux acteurs judiciaires en tant que points focaux pour la promotion du droit environnemental au plan national. Le pouvoir judiciaire est un partenaire important dans l’élaboration, l’interprétation, la mise en œuvre et l’application du droit environnemental. Les lois qui préservent, protègent et restaurent les ressources environnementales doivent être mises en œuvre et leur observance assurée.
La mise en œuvre effective des traités internationaux et d’autres accords nécessite que chaque pays ait la capacité de mettre en place les politiques, les lois et les institutions, de disposer d’un personnel qualifié et de travailler en partenariat avec la société civile.
Les deux prémisses essentielles de la justice environnementale, c’est que d’abord, toute personne a le droit et doit pouvoir vivre dans un environnement sain, avec un accès à des ressources environnementales suffisantes pour une vie décente, et qu’ensuite, c’est surtout les pauvres et les personnes les plus faibles qui manquent de ces conditions. Il en est ainsi parce que les problèmes environnementaux mondiaux (par exemple le changement climatique) et le manque d’accès aux rares ressources environnementales (par exemple l’énergie et l’eau) tendent à affecter plus durement les personnes les plus pauvres et les plus vulnérables.
Ces efforts qui soutiennent les populations et les organisations dans le règlement des questions sous-jacentes telles que les droits fonciers, les droits de propriété intellectuelle, la surexploitation des ressources de l’eau et la bonne gouvernance environnementale, sont renforcés par les praticiens de l’environnement et du développement. Cependant, l’approche de l’accès à la justice n’est pas encore pleinement intégrée dans ces efforts. Par exemple, dans le cas des services de l’eau, la discrimination dont soufrent les femmes en termes de droits fonciers, l’héritage, le droit à l’éducation et l’accès à l’emploi et aux services financiers, sont des facteurs essentiels de l’accès inégal à ces services.
En Afrique, les pauvres dépendent de leurs ressources naturelles pour leur survie. Ils sont obligés de faire le douloureux choix entre la préservation de l’environnement et la satisfaction de leurs besoins essentiels. La faim et la pauvreté obligent souvent les pauvres à surexploiter et ainsi à dégrader la base des ressources naturelles dont ils tirent leurs propres moyens de subsistance. Au vu de cela, les gouvernements doivent élaborer de nouvelles lois environnementales ou renforcer celles qui existent déjà pour protéger les intérêts des pauvres. La justice environnementale doit être popularisée en Afrique où les personnes défavorisées au plan socioéconomique et écologique sont potentiellement les premières victimes les plus exposées à l’impact de la dégradation environnementale et du réchauffement de la planète. Ainsi, une participation active, énergique et éclairée de la société civile est essentielle pour la gouvernance environnementale.
Pour une protection environnementale efficace dans les pays africains, la société civile et les gouvernements doivent avoir la capacité technique et organisationnelle pour faire face aux défis juridiques pour le bénéfice de leurs citoyens.


Droits de l’Homme, Pauvreté et Environnement


En Afrique, la plupart des gens comprennent désormais que la santé et la survie de l’homme sont menacées par des problèmes écologiques comme la pollution de l’air, la déforestation, la pénurie d’eau et le changement climatique. A cet égard, un environnement propre et sain est essentiel pour la protection effective des droits de l’homme sur le continent. Les pauvres sont les plus exposés à la dégradation environnementale et les plus défavorisés par rapport à l’accès aux services de développement sains, abordables et durables.
Les inégalités environnementales existent non seulement entre les nations du monde mais également en leur sein. Que ce soit dans les pays riches ou dans les pays pauvres, certaines populations supportent de façon disproportionnée le fardeau des effets de la dégradation environnementale. En Afrique, les enfants sont particulièrement exposés aux risques environnementaux à cause des mauvaises conditions d’hygiène. Une récente étude de l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé indique que les "deux-tiers des maladies évitables survenant dans le monde et provoquées par des causes environnementales sont enregistrées parmi les enfants".
Les agences de développement international soutiennent qu’il est nécessaire de reconnaître et de renforcer la compréhension de la dimension de la relation pauvreté-environnement, afin d’atteindre les objectifs de réduction de la pauvreté d’ici 2015. Selon la Banque Mondiale, lorsque les pays pauvres sont appauvris du fait de la corruption et de la mauvaise gouvernance, leur peuple souffre, a besoin de plus d’aide, exploite les ressources naturelles disponibles jusqu'à épuisement pour survivre, deviennent des refugies, s’engagent dans des conflits et se retirent des marchés mondiaux.
Les droits de développement environnemental contribuent directement à l’atteinte de l’OMD 7 qui concerne la durabilité environnementale. En plus de l’OMD 7, l’environnement joue un rôle transversal dans plusieurs OMD. Selon les experts environnementaux, la durabilité environnementale est la fondation sur laquelle les stratégies pour l’atteinte de tous les OMD doivent être élaborées, et il ne s’agit pas seulement d’établir une relation occasionnelle entre la dégradation environnementale et la pauvreté, la faim, l’inégalité entre les sexes et les conditions sanitaires. D’autres exemples de synergie peuvent être trouvés dans les relations entre le droit à l’eau potable et l’OMD 4 sur la réduction de la mortalité infantile.
La justice environnementale en Afrique concerne essentiellement l’intégration des droits dans les services et les ressources environnementaux et la programmation environnementale pour aider à mener des interventions plus focalisées sur les pauvres. Les efforts pour intégrer les droits dans le développement durable aident à mener des interventions plus ciblées sur les pauvres, et par conséquent contribuent directement à l’atteinte de l’OMD 1 sur l’éradication de l’extrême pauvreté et les relations entre le droit à l’eau potable et l’OMD 4 sur la réduction de la mortalité infantile.
Les organisations environnementales, les décideurs, les juristes locaux et les intellectuels ont besoin de comprendre les lois et, plus important, comment ils peuvent les utiliser pour plaider en faveur de la protection de l’environnement, la santé et le bien-être des populations. Les organisations à la base qui protègent, représentent et défendent les intérêts des résidents pauvres jouent un rôle vital dans le renforcement de la capacité des pauvres à revendiquer leurs droits. La mobilisation sociale et le soutien actif pour les partenariats avec les organisations locales de défense de l’environnement et autres groupes de la société civile apparaissent comme une stratégie utile pour le renforcement de la capacité des titulaires des droits à revendiquer leurs droits et à tenir les SD et les autorités en charge de l’environnement pour responsables.


L’Approche des Droits de l’Homme du Reseau Africain  pour les droits de l'environnement (RAPDE)


La Conférence des Nations Unies de 1992 sur l’Environnement et le Développement tenue à Rio de Janeiro a formulé le lien entre les droits de l’homme et la protection de l’environnement largement en des termes procéduraux. Le Principe 10 de la Déclaration de Rio dispose que: “Les questions environnementales sont mieux gérées avec la participation de tous les citoyens concernées, au niveau approprié. Au plan national, chaque individu a un accès approprié à l’information relative à l’environnement qui est détenue par les pouvoirs publics, notamment les informations sur les matériaux dangereux et les activités dans leur communauté, et l’opportunité de participer dans les processus de prise de décision. Les États facilitent et encouragent la sensibilisation et la participation du public en rendant l’information largement disponible. L’accès effectif aux procédures judiciaires et administratives, y compris la réparation et le recours, doit être assuré”.
RAPDE est basé sur les droits de l’homme parce que les droits de l’homme et le développement durable se renforcent mutuellement. L’accès aux services et ressources environnementaux et la protection de l’environnement sont essentiels à la réalisation des droits humains de base, notamment le droit à l’alimentation, la santé, voire la vie elle-même. Alors, un cadre de droits de l’homme qui assure la transparence et la reddition des comptes et qui renforce la capacité des citoyens à contribuer à la gestion des ressources naturelles, permet de réaliser les objectifs environnementaux.
Une approche basée sur les droits de l’homme place l’homme au centre du développement parce qu’elle est basée sur les perceptions, les besoins et les revendications légitimes des gens. Cela conduit à l’élaboration et la mise en œuvre de programmes qui sont plus susceptibles de produire des avantages directs quant à la réduction de la pauvreté, l’éducation, la santé et l’égalité entre les sexes.
L’intégration de ces principes dans les programmes nécessite un effort spécifique pour identifier les individus et les groupes les plus marginalisés et vulnérables par rapport à l’accès aux services et ressources environnementaux, notamment les femmes, les enfants, les minorités, les peuples indigènes, les migrants, les personnes âgées, les personnes vivant avec des handicaps et les personnes vivant avec le VIH/SIDA.
Au plan national, l’affirmation des droits procéduraux tels que le droit à l’information, le droit à la participation et le droit à la réparation judiciaire, a fourni aux communautés et aux ONG un outil important pour assurer une gouvernance environnementale saine. Ces droits sont bien consacrés par les instruments juridiques internationaux et nationaux. Dans les pays qui manquent de lois et de ressources environnementales globales pour mettre en œuvre et appliquer ces lois, particulièrement en Afrique, ils jouent un rôle essentiel dans la protection des individus contre les dommages environnementaux. Ils permettent aussi à ces groupes d’exprimer leurs objections contre les dommages environnementaux et de tenir les gouvernements pour responsables. Des questions juridiques et politiques plus globales telles que les lois discriminatoires, l’absence de droits fonciers et les institutions corrompues et inefficaces, peuvent être la principale cause du fait que les pauvres et les personnes vulnérables ne sont pas en mesure d’exercer et de jouir de leurs services et ressources environnementaux et des droits relatifs à l’environnement.
RAPDE assure la promotion des droits de l’homme et des approches basées sur le développement durable parce qu’ils renforcent mutuellement la réalisation de la justice environnementale. L’accès au développement durable, l’eau et la protection environnementale sont essentiels à la réalisation des droits fondamentaux de l’homme, notamment le droit à l’alimentation, la santé et la vie elle-même.
L’Afrique est particulièrement vulnérable étant donné que ses habitants déshérités au plan socioéconomique et écologique sont les plus susceptibles d’être les premières victimes de la dégradation environnementale et du réchauffement climatique. Pour l’adoption d’une approche du développement durable et de la programmation environnementale basée sur les droits de l’homme, il est important de créer un cadre pour le renforcement de la capacité des détenteurs de droits à revendiquer et exercer effectivement leurs droits relatifs au développement durable et à l’environnement. A cette fin, RAPDE soutient la réalisation des Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement (OMD), prévient l’accaparement par l’élite locale des programmes de développement durable et de protection de l’environnement, et oriente son attention sur les besoins des pauvres et des marginalisés.


Pauvreté : Une Cause et une Conséquence de la Dégradation de l’Environnement


Les liens entre la pauvreté et l’environnement sont complexes en particulier dans les économies africaines basées sur les ressources naturelles. Environ deux-tiers de la population vivent dans les zones rurales et l’agriculture constitue leur principale source de revenus. La dégradation des terres, la déforestation, le manque d’accès à l’eau potable et la perte de la biodiversité, tout cela combiné avec les variations climatiques, sont des préoccupations qui surviennent invariablement de l’étude de leur environnement naturel.
La dégradation des ressources réduit la productivité des pauvres qui dépendent surtout de ces ressources, et les rend encore plus vulnérables face aux situations extrêmes (climat, les conflits économiques et civils). La pauvreté rend extrêmement difficile la relance après ces événements et contribue à affaiblir la résistance sociale et écologique. Les pauvres, avec des horizons plus réduits et habituellement un accès non sécurisé au foncier, sont incapables et souvent réticents à investir dans la gestion des ressources naturelles. De plus, les pauvres sont souvent les plus exposés aux dommages environnementaux étant donné qu’ils ne peuvent se procurer de l’eau potable ou avoir le choix de vivre dans une zone moins polluée (la Banque Mondiale, 1997).
En fait, la pauvreté et la protection de l’environnement sont étroitement liées, comme l’indique clairement le plan de développement de l’Afrique, c’est-à-dire le Nouveau Partenariat pour le Développement de l’Afrique (NEPAD). Le plan d’action environnemental du NEPAD déclare : « L’Afrique est caractérisée par deux traits intimement liés: l’augmentation du niveau de pauvreté et l’aggravation de la dégradation de l’environnement… La pauvreté demeure la principale cause et conséquence de la dégradation de l’environnement et de l’épuisement des ressources en Afrique. Sans une amélioration significative des conditions de vie et des moyens de subsistance des pauvres, les politiques et programmes environnementaux ne pourront aboutir. »
Les impacts du changement climatique sur les générations futures sont désormais inévitables. Cependant, beaucoup de choses peuvent et doivent être faites pour aider les pays en développement à s’adapter et à protéger les plus vulnérables. Avec le changement climatique, d’ici 2080, un nombre supplémentaire de 400 millions de personnes dans le monde entier pourraient être affectées par la malnutrition. 400 millions d’autres personnes pourraient être exposées au paludisme. Et un autre nombre de 1,8 milliard de personnes n’auraient pas assez d’eau pour vivre. D’ici 2050, 200 millions de personnes pourraient se retrouver sans abri en raison de la montée du niveau de la mer, les inondations et la sécheresse. Le continent africain apparaît comme celui qui va souffrir le plus du changement climatique bien qu’il ait contribué le moins au phénomène. La région subit déjà des impacts significatifs du changement climatique, notamment l’avancée du désert.
RAPDE est fortement convaincu qu’un puissant mouvement pour la justice environnementale en Afrique contribuera à l’atteinte des Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement (OMD), en particulier l’OMD 7 (assurer la durabilité environnementale). L’OMD 7 aborde des questions concernant l’impact du changement climatique, la désertification, la correction de la perte des ressources environnementales, la déforestation, la nécessité de l’accès durable à l’eau potable et aux services d’hygiène de base, et l’amélioration des conditions de vie des habitants des bidonvilles. Par exemple, le manque de services de base tels que le drainage des eaux usées et l’assainissement pour des millions de personnes est l’une des questions environnementales les plus pressantes dans de nombreux pays africains aujourd’hui.
Un autre exemple est le développement commercial de la diversité biologique de l’Afrique qui est de plus en plus exploitée aux plans local, national et international. L’approfondissement des recherches et les applications commerciales pour la gestion de ces ressources nécessiteront des lois et des institutions qui protègent les droits et les intérêts des utilisateurs locaux de ces ressources ou de ceux qui subissent les conséquences de leur exploitation et de leur développement, et permettra une répartition équitable des avantages et la gestion raisonnable des impacts découlant de leur utilisation et développement.

Femme et Environnement

En Afrique, le rôle de la femme dans la gestion des ressources naturelles est multidimensionnel. Malheureusement, le rôle central et crucial de la femme est ignoré et mal apprécié. Les femmes sont souvent celles qui passent de longues heures à ramasser du bois de chauffe, à faire la corvée d’eau ou à chercher d’autres ressources naturelles. Il est absolument nécessaire que les femmes aient des droits/un accès indépendants à la terre et autres ressources naturelles. Elles s’efforcent de gérer l’environnement bien que leur lutte pour la survie donne souvent lieu à des dommages sur l’environnement en raison des activités telles que le ramassage du bois de chauffe.
Bien que les femmes apportent d’énormes contributions à l’économie, ces contributions ne sont pas reconnues à leur juste valeur comme dans le cas des hommes. La plupart des travaux effectués par les femmes ne sont pas seulement sous-payés, ils ne sont pas du tout payés. Dans la majorité des populations rurales et des couches à faible revenu en Afrique, ce sont les femmes qui font tous les travaux domestiques pendant que beaucoup d’autres s’adonnent aussi aux activités champêtres et commerciales. Elles ont la charge des enfants, des malades et des vieillards, travaillant pour ou produisant la nourriture, en plus de l’accomplissement de fonctions sociales essentielles au sein de leur communauté.
Les résultats négatifs de la perte et/ou la dégradation des ressources naturelles sont surtout subis par les femmes, qui doivent en outre s’occuper de leurs responsabilités et de leurs multiples rôles dans les familles et les communautés. Habituellement, les femmes n’ont pas de droits et/ou d’accès à la terre pour diverses raisons culturelles et juridiques bien qu’elles constituent la majorité des producteurs agricoles du monde, jouant d’importants rôles dans l’agriculture, la pêche et la sylviculture. Parmi les détenteurs de droits fonciers dans le monde, les femmes sont les moins nanties. Les femmes africaines, particulièrement celles qui vivent dans les zones rurales, sont les principales gardiennes du savoir indigène en matière de conservation des ressources naturelles, la gestion et la préparation des repas. En dépit des efforts pour les intégrer dans les activités qui favorisent le développement durable, ces femmes ont continué à rencontrer des problèmes dans presque toutes les activités de développement sectoriel relatives à la gestion des ressources naturelles. Les interventions de développement en vue de la réduction de la pauvreté doivent mettre l’accent sur le rôle important que jouent les femmes africaines dans la conservation et la gestion des ressources naturelles en initiant et en renforçant des politiques et des soutiens qui réduisent les inégalités entre les sexes.
Les guerres civiles en Afrique affectent les femmes qui portent le fardeau d’une morbidité et d’une mortalité en hausse au fil du temps. Les conflits affectent différents aspects de la santé féminine. Les femmes endurent les effets les plus terribles de la guerre, la pauvreté et les maladies en Afrique Sub-saharienne. Que ce soit pour les viols ignominieux au Darfour et à l’est de la République Démocratique du Congo, ou les victimes du VIH/SIDA, les femmes reçoivent souvent très peu d’assistance pour les aider à traiter les conséquences des actes qu’elles subissent. Le viol des femmes et des jeunes filles est devenu pratiquement une stratégie de guerre dans les conflits en Afrique. Dans certains pays, les femmes assument de plus en plus le rôle de chef du foyer en partie à cause de la mort de leur partenaire dans les conflits. Cela signifie qu’elles sont seulement responsables de l’entretien de leurs familles et prennent part aux activités agricoles, et elles n’ont pas le droit légal de posséder des terres ou d’autres ressources naturelles (qui sont les principaux moyens de subsistance). Étant donné que beaucoup de femmes ne possèdent pas de terres, les femmes et les filles font face constamment au risque de devenir économiquement instables et dépendantes de leurs parents masculins ou de leur mari. Dans l’éventualité d’un désespoir économique, elles pourraient se tourner vers des moyens tels que la prostitution ou les relations sexuelles occasionnelles, ou se plier à certaines pratiques culturelles telles que le lévirat qui pourraient les exposer aux maladies sexuellement transmissibles ou à d’autres risques sanitaires. En période de guerre ou de conflit, les infrastructures d’hygiène sont généralement médiocres dans les camps de refugiés et les femmes doivent recourir à l’assistance étrangère pour satisfaire leurs besoins. Les femmes souffrent le plus des pénuries d’eau et de la mauvaise hygiène parce qu’elles doivent voyager sur des distances encore plus longues pour chercher de l’eau dans des conditions d’insécurité.


Eau et mauvaises conditions d’hygiène


Selon le Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement (PNUD), la proportion des populations urbaines ayant accès à l’eau potable en Afrique Sub-saharienne n’a baissé que légèrement au cours des vingt dernières années, passant de 86 pour cent en 1990 à 83 pour cent à nos jours. De plus, les populations urbaines à faible revenu doivent payer de façon disproportionnée des prix élevés pour l’eau, allant parfois jusqu’à 50 fois le prix payé par les couches plus nanties. Ce problème s’est empiré avec la rapide urbanisation qui favorise l’apparition des bidonvilles à forte densité et des conditions environnementales médiocres. L’Afrique connaît le taux d’urbanisation le plus rapide du monde à près de 5 pour cent par an. Les problèmes les plus sévères d’accès à l’eau potable sont enregistrés dans les bidonvilles à forte densité où le risque de contamination dû à l’eau impropre et aux mauvaises conditions d’hygiène est le plus élevé.
L’Afrique demeure l’une des régions du monde disposant d’abondantes ressources en eau qui bien malheureusement ne sont pas utilisées de manière efficiente. Avec 17 grands fleuves et plus de 160 lacs, le continent n’utilise qu’environ 4 pour cent de ses ressources en eau renouvelables annuelles pour le secteur agricole et les besoins domestiques. Actuellement, environ 50 pour cent de l’eau en zone urbaine sont gaspillés à l’instar de 75 pour cent de l’eau d’irrigation. Une fourniture adéquate d’eau potable et de bonnes conditions d’hygiène sont les principaux pré-requis pour soutenir la vie humaine, maintenir les systèmes écologiques qui supportent toute vie et pour réaliser le développement durable. Le septième des huit Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement invite les gouvernements à réduire de moitié le pourcentage des populations n’ayant pas accès à l’eau et de bonnes conditions d’hygiène. L’Afrique Sub-saharienne est la seule région qui risque de ne pas atteindre ces deux objectifs à moins que des efforts conjoints soient faits. Les mauvaises conditions d’hygiène nuisent à la santé. Plus de 700.000 enfants africains meurent chaque année de la diarrhée. La diarrhée peut aussi conduire à la malnutrition chronique. Des millions d’enfants qui survivent souffrent de la malnutrition chronique qui est la cause de plus de la moitié de tous les décès infantiles sur le continent. Les maladies obligent les enfants à manquer les classes et peuvent endommager leur faculté à apprendre. Il a été démontré que la mise à la disposition des écoles d’infrastructures d’assainissement, notamment des toilettes séparées pour les filles et les garçons, améliore la fréquentation de l’école et incite plus de filles à s’inscrire. Dans l’Afrique rurale, 19 pour cent des femmes passent plus d’une heure pour aller chercher de l’eau, une tâche fatigante et souvent dangereuse qui leur enlève la chance de travailler et d’étudier. Les femmes ne disposant pas de toilettes sont obligées de déféquer à l’air libre, au risque de leur dignité et de leur propre sécurité.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Why Environmental Rights and Justice in Africa?

Why Environmental Rights and Justice in Africa?




The United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Justice defines EJ as follows: "Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, colour, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”


The Rio Declaration of 1992 requires States to enact national legislations for environmental management and to ensure that citizens participate in this management through granting them access to information held by public authorities concerning the environment and by ensuring effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings including provision of redress and remedy.


Access to justice requires that government agencies and others respect, not only the other procedural rights of access to information and participation, but also that substantive environmental rights are protected so that citizens have an opportunity for seeking redress whenever there is failure to respect environmental rights.


In recent years, international environmental organisations have paid increasing attention to the judiciary and other legal stakeholders as focal points for the promotion of environmental law at national level. The Judiciary is a crucial partner in the development, interpretation, implementation and enforcement of environmental law. The laws that conserve, protect, and restore environmental resources must be implemented and their compliance assured.


The effective implementation of international treaties and other agreements require each country to have the capacity to develop the necessary policies, legislation and institutions, and to have access to trained staff and work in partnership with the civil society.


Environmental justice’s two basic premises are first that everyone should have the right and be able to live in a healthy environment, with access to enough environmental resources for a healthy life, and second, that it is predominantly the poorest and least powerful people who are missing these conditions. This is because global environmental problems (e.g. climate change), and lack of access to scarce environmental resources (e.g. energy and water), tend to affect the poorest and most vulnerable people hardest.


Efforts such as these, that support people and organisations to address underlying issues such as land rights, intellectual property rights, overexploitation of water resources, and sound environmental governance, are promoted by environment and development practitioners. However, the access to justice approach is not yet fully integrated in these efforts. For example, in the case of water services, the discrimination that women suffer in terms of land rights, inheritance, education rights, and access to employment and finance, are prime factors behind their unequal access to these services.


In Africa, the poor depend on their natural resources for their survival. They have to make difficult choices between conserving the environment and meeting their basic needs. Hunger and poverty often compel the poor to over-exploit and thus degrade the natural resource base on which their own livelihoods depend. This calls upon Governments to design new or strengthen existing environmental laws that protect the interests of the poor. Environmental justice needs to be promoted in Africa where socio-economically and ecologically disadvantaged people are most likely to be the first victims and the greatest sufferers of the impact of environmental degradation and global warming. Active, robust, informed participation by civil society is thus essential to environmental governance.


For environmental protection to be effective in African counties, civil society and governments must possess the technical and organisational capacity to address legal challenges for the benefit of their citizens.


Human Rights, Poverty and the Environment


In Africa, most people now accept that human health and survival is threatened by ecological problems like air pollution, deforestation, water shortage and climate change. In this sense a clean and healthy environment is essential for the effective protection of human rights in the continent. The poor is the most vulnerable to environmental degradation and most disadvantaged in regards to access to clean, affordable and sustainable development services.


Environmental inequalities exist not only among world nations, but within them as well. In rich countries and poor countries alike, certain populations often bear disproportionate burdens from the effects of environmental degradation. In Africa, children are especially prone to environmental risks because of poor sanitary conditions. A recent World Health Organization survey reported that ‘two-thirds of the preventable diseases occurring worldwide from environmental causes occur among children’.


International development agencies argue that there is a need to recognise and improve understanding of the dimension of the poverty-environment nexus, in order to achieve poverty reduction goals by 2015. According to the World Bank, when poor countries are impoverished due to corruption and bad governance; their people suffer, they need more aid, they exploit available natural resources to survive until there are depleted, they create refugees, they engage in conflicts and they withdraw from world markets.


Environmental development rights contribute directly to MDG-7 on ensuring environmental sustainability. In addition to MDG-7, the environment plays a cross-cutting role in several MDGs. According to environmental experts, environmental sustainability is the foundation on which strategies for achieving all other MDGs must be built, and not only causally link environmental degradation to poverty, hunger, and gender inequality and health conditions. Other examples of synergies can be found in the links between the right to clean drinking water and MDG 4 on reducing child mortality.


Environmental justice in Africa is all about integrating rights into environmental services and resources and environmental programming to help to make interventions more focused on poor people. Working to integrate rights into sustainable development help to make interventions more focused on poor people, and thus contribute directly to the first MDG on eradicating extreme poverty and the links between rights to clean drinking water and MDG-4 on reducing child mortality.


Environmental organisations, decision-makers, local lawyers, and scholars need to understand the laws and, more importantly, how they can use them to advocate for environmental protection and the health and well-being of the country’s people. Local grassroots organisations that protect, represent and involve the interests of poorer residents play a vital role in empowering the poor to claim their rights. Social mobilisation and active support for partnerships with local environment and other civil society groups, has been found to be a useful strategy for building the capacity of right-holders to claim their rights and hold SD and environment authorities accountable.


Africa Network for Environmental Rights (ANER)’ Human Rights based approach


The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro formulated the link between human rights and environmental protection largely in procedural terms. Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration states as follows: “Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.”


ANER  is human-rights based because human rights and sustainable development are mutually reinforcing. Access to environmental services and resources; and environmental protection are essential to the realisation of basic human rights, including the rights to food, health and even life itself. So too, a human rights framework that ensures transparency and accountability and that empowers citizens to contribute to the management of natural resources, helps to achieve environment goals.


A human rights-based approach places people at the centre of development because it is based on the perceptions, needs, and legitimate claims of people. This leads to the design and implementation of programmes that are more likely to have direct benefits for poverty reduction, education, health, and gender equality.


Integrating these principles into programming requires a specific effort to identify the individuals and groups most marginalised and vulnerable in regards to access to environmental services and resources; such as women, children, minorities, indigenous groups, migrants, elderly, persons living with disabilities and persons living with HIV/AIDS.


At a national level, asserting procedural rights, such as the right to information, the right to participation and the right to judicial redress, has provided communities and NGOs with an important tool for ensuring sound environmental governance. These rights are well established in international and national legal instruments. In countries that lack comprehensive environmental laws and resources to implement and enforce those laws, particularly in Africa, they play an essential role in protecting individuals from environmental damage. They also enable those concerned groups to voice their objections to environment damage and hold governments to account. Wider legal and political issues, such as discriminatory laws, lack of land rights, and corrupt and ineffective institutions, may be the major cause for why the poor and the vulnerable are unable to exercise and enjoy their environmental services and resources and environment related rights.


Poverty: A Cause and Effect of Environmental Degradation


Poverty is linked to the environment in complex ways, particularly in natural resource-based African economies. About two-thirds of the population live in rural areas, deriving their main income from agriculture. Land degradation, deforestation, lack of access to safe water, and loss of biodiversity, compounded by climatic variability, are the concerns that invariably arise from assessments of their natural environment.


Degradation of resources reduces the productivity of the poor who most rely on them, and makes poor people even more susceptible to extreme events (weather, economic, and civil strife). Poverty makes recovery from these events extremely difficult and contributes to lowering social and ecological resistance. The poor, with shorter time-horizons, and usually less secure access to natural resources, are unable, and often unwilling to invest in natural resource management. Moreover, poor people are often the most exposed to environmental damage since they cannot purchase safe water or have the option of living in a less polluted area (The World Bank, 1997).


In fact, poverty and environmental protection are closely linked, as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Africa’s development blueprint, makes clear. NEPAD’s environmental action plan states, “Africa is characterized by two interrelated features: rising poverty levels and deepening environmental degradation ... poverty remains the main cause and consequence of environmental degradation and resource depletion in Africa. Without significant improvement in the living conditions and livelihoods of the poor, environmental policies and programmes will achieve little success.”


The impacts of climate change on the next generation are now inevitable. However, there is a lot that can and must be done to help developing countries to adapt and to protect the most vulnerable. With climate change, by 2080, an extra 600 million people worldwide could be affected by malnutrition. An additional 400 million people could be exposed to malaria. And an additional 1.8 billion people could be living without enough water. By 2050, 200 million people could be rendered homeless by rising sea levels, floods and drought. The continent of Africa stands to suffer the most from climate change whilst having contributed the least to the problem. The region is already experiencing significant impacts from climate change including increasing desertification.


Women and the Environment


In Africa, a woman’s role in the management of natural resources assumes a multidimensional nature. Unfortunately, the central and crucial role that women play is often both overlooked and unappreciated. Women are the ones who spend hours collecting firewood, water and other natural resources. There is a great need for women to have independent rights/access to land and other natural resources. They seek to manage the environment, although their struggle for survival often results in environmental damage from activities such as fuel-wood collection


Although women make tremendous contributions to the economy, women's contributions are not valued in the same way as men's. Much of women's work is not underpaid, it is entirely unpaid. Among the majority of African rural and low-income urban dwellers, women perform all domestic tasks, while many also farm and trade. They are responsible for the care of children, the sick and the elderly, working for or producing food, in addition to performing essential social functions within their communities.


The negative outcomes of the loss and/or degradation of natural resources often fall most heavily on women, adding to their responsibilities and multiple roles in families and communities. Women usually have no rights and/or access to land for varying legal and cultural reasons yet they are the majority of the world's agricultural producers, playing important roles in farming, fisheries, forestry and farming. They are the least titleholders among the property holders in the world. African women, particularly those in rural areas, are the main custodians of indigenous knowledge in natural resource conservation, management and food preparation. In spite of efforts to link African women to activities that promote sustainable development, these women have continued to face problems in almost all sectoral development activities dealing with natural resources management. Development interventions to alleviate poverty should emphasise the critical role played by African women in the conservation and management of natural resources by initiating and strengthening policies and support that minimise gender inequalities.


Civil wars in Africa affect women who endure the most of increased morbidity and mortality over time. Conflicts affect different aspects of female health. Women often endure the most of war, poverty and disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Whether it is brutal rapes in Darfur and eastern Congo or the toll taken by HIV/AIDS, women often receive little help dealing with the consequences. The raping of women and young girls has become practically a war strategy in Africa's conflicts. In some countries, women are also increasingly becoming heads of households partly due the loss of their partners to conflicts. This means that they are solely responsible for providing for their families and take part in farming activities yet they do not have the legal rights to own land and other natural resources (which are the main source of livelihood.


Since many women do not own land, women and girls constantly face the threat of becoming economically unstable and dependant on their male relatives or husbands. In the eventuality of economic despair, they may turn to means such as prostitution or transactional sex, or bowing to certain cultural practices such as wife inheritance that may expose them to sexually transmitted diseases and other health risks. During times of war and conflict, sanitation facilities in refugee camps are generally poor and women rely on foreign aid to cater for their needs. Women are the worst hit by shortages of water and poor sanitation because they have to travel longer distances to search for water under very insecure conditions.


Water and poor sanitation


According to the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the proportion of urban dwellers with access to safe drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa has only declined slightly over the last 20 years, from 86 percent in 1990 to 83 percent to date. Additionally, low-income urban dwellers have to pay disproportionately high prices for water sometimes up to 50 times the price paid by higher income groups. This problem has been worsened by a high rate of urbanisation resulting in highly density slums with poor environmental conditions. Africa has been experiencing the world’s most rapid rate of urbanisation at nearly 5 per cent per annum. The most severe problems with access to safe drinking water are in high-density slums, where the risk of contamination from unsafe water and poor sanitation is highest.


Africa remains one of the world's regions endowed with abundant water resources that, sadly, are not efficiently utilised. With 17 large rivers and more than 160 lakes, the continent only uses about 4 percent of its total annual renewable water resources for agricultural industry and domestic purposes. Currently, about 50 percent of urban water is wasted, as is 75 percent of irrigation water. An adequate supply of clean water, appropriate sanitation and good hygiene are the most important preconditions for sustaining human life, for maintaining ecological systems that support all life and for achieving sustainable development. The seventh of the eight Millennium Development Goals calls for governments to cut by half the percentage of their population living without safe water and basic sanitation. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region that looks set to miss both of these targets unless a concerted effort is made.


Poor sanitation leads to poor health. More than 700,000 African children die every year from diarrhoea. Diarrhoea can also lead to chronic malnutrition. Millions of children who survive suffer from chronic malnutrition, which is responsible for over half of all child deaths on the continent. Sickness forces children to miss school and can damage their ability to learn. It has been shown that providing schools with basic sanitation, including separate toilets for boys and girls, improves attendance and encourages more girls to enrol. In rural Africa, 19 per cent of women spend more than one hour on each trip to fetch water, an exhausting and often dangerous chore that robs them of the chance to work and learn. Women without toilets are forced to defecate in the open, risking their dignity and personal safety.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Desertification, Agriculture, Indigenous Knowledge and Health

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

Facebook Update

http://www.facebook.com/pages/United-Nations-Convention-to-Combat-Desertification/147888359084?sk=photos#!/pages/United-Nations-Convention-to-Combat-Desertification/147888359084?v=wall


Education Kit on Combating Desertification

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ecological-sciences/specific-ecosystems/drylands-desertification/publications-drylands-desertification/learning-to-combat-desertification/


Traditional African medicine is a holistic discipline involving extensive use of indigenous herbalism combined with aspects of African spirituality.

Despite numerous attempts at government interference, this ancient system of healing continues to thrive in Africa and practitioners can be found in many other parts of the world.

http://trytostayhealthy.blogspot.com/2010/12/traditional-african-medicine.html


Herbal Medicine and Its Powerful Healing Properties

Did You Know That Herbal Medicine Is As Old As Time?

In the ancient world there were no medical doctors and when people became unwell they would go to the village elder with the knowledge of the healing effects of various plant leaves, stem, flower and root that grew wild in the local natural environment.

Medicine from herbs is one of oldest forms of healthcare. It has a long and respected history of plants and parts of the plant being used for medicinal purposes based on the observation and testing of indigenous people.
Use of leaves, flowers, stems, berries, and roots of plants to prevent, relieve, treat and cure various medical conditions is known as herbal medicine.

http://healthnew.org/2010/12/herbal-medicine-and-its-powerful-healing-properties/

Sustainable agriculture A pathway out of poverty for East Africa’s rural poor Examples from Kenya and Tanzania

http://www.sustainet.org/download/sustainet_publication_eafrica_part1.pdf

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Biodiversity, Water and sanitation, Energy, climate change

The Congo Basin

African forests are a key piece of the climate puzzle and they are the livelihood of tens of millions.
The Congo Basin rainforest is the second largest on earth, taking up an area three times the size of France. About half lies within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the rest stretches across Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/forests/africa/

Africa's Future Lies in a Green Energy Grid

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Dec 14, 2010 (IPS) - Development in Africa could falter as climate change grips the continent, increasing the length and severity of droughts and floods by altering precipitation patterns, among other impacts.

The region needs a major shift in its economic development policies and thinking towards decentralised, green economic development, experts now say.

"The world's big economies are largely living off financial transactions which are unconnected to development," warns Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary-general of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Africa: Key Issues at Cancun

http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/can1012a.php


Adaptation: An Essential Response to Climate Change

Adaptation has been the “ugly duckling” of climate change for decades. In the climate change policy community, no one wanted to talk about adaptation — instead, we wanted to see emissions reduced to the point where no one need worry about impacts like sea level rise or droughts.

http://blog.conservation.org/2010/12/adaptation-essential-response-to-climate-change/

Urbanization and Environmental Sustainability

Now home to half of the world's people, cities are increasingly at the forefront of our most pressing environmental challenges. While the current pace of urbanization is not unique in human history, the sheer magnitude of urban growth--driven by massive demographic shifts in the developing world--is unprecedented, with vast implications for human well-being and the environment. However, where cities pose environmental problems, they also offer solutions. As hotspots of consumption, production, and waste generation, cities possess unparalleled potential to increase the energy efficiency and sustainability of society as a whole

http://earthtrends.wri.org/updates/node/287

Climate change winners and losers in Sahel

Submitted by Camilla Toulmin on Wed, 22/12/2010 - 07:29

Earlier this month, I spent a week in Mali, going back to the villages which I have studied for the past 30 years. While international climate negotiators met in Cancun, Mexico, for the UN summit on climate change, I was keen to catch up on how climate change was affecting livelihoods in the West African Sahel.

This year has brought heavy rain to much of the region and with it, a mixed bag of impacts on yields of the local staple crop, millet. For farmers in the Kala region north of Segou in central Mali, the heavy rainfall has been good for the long-cycle sanyo millet, which takes 6–7 months to mature. But the fast-growing souna millet, which matures in 3–4 months, has performed poorly. This is partly due to impoverishment of soils. “When rain falls heavily you need a lot of power in the soil — that power is supplied by animal dung. That’s what creates the heat that supplies energy to the crop,” says local farmer Ganiba Dembele, showing me the yellow leaves of the souna millet. He and other farmers recognise that their plots need to be replenished with dung each year if they are to produce well, particularly in wetter growing conditions. “We’ve increased the size of our fields so much, we can’t get enough dung from our flocks and herds to keep them well-fertilised. It’s lucky we have sanyo to make up the deficit,” he adds.
http://www.iied.org/sustainable-markets/blog/climate-change-winners-and-losers-sahel

CLIMATE CHANGE: Adaptation Fund starts delivering

Johannesburg, 24 September 2010 (IRIN) - In what is being hailed as a breakthrough for a "collective effort" by developed and developing countries, the Adaptation Fund set up by the UN to help poor countries cope with the unfolding impact of climate change has finally become operational.

Last week, the Fund's board approved two adaptation projects, one in Senegal - threatened by sea-level rise, less rainfall and high temperatures - and the other in Honduras, which faces increasing water shortages.

The two projects worth a total of about US$14 million are not only the first to be approved by the board but also the first to get money directly from the Fund. Developing countries had been lobbying for direct access, and have now been granted control over how to spend the funds.

http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportId=90571

Indigenous peoples key to timber trade policy

ITTO's Civil Society Advisory Group (l to r): Chen Hin Keong, Global Forest Trade Programme Leader, TRAFFIC; Cecile Ndjebet, Coordinator, Cameroon Ecology and President of REFACOF – African Women’s Network for Community Forest Management; Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director, ITTO; Christine Wulandari, FKKM – Indonesian Community Forestry Communications Forum; Augusta Molnar, Rights and Resources Institute; Francis Colee, Green Advocates, LiberiaYokohama, Japan, 18th December 2010—The views of indigenous peoples and community-based organizations are an essential element of forestry and climate change debates, and their opinions are vital in shaping policies and decisions in the forestry sector, a key timber meeting in Japan this week was told.
http://www.traffic.org/home/2010/12/18/indigenous-peoples-key-to-timber-trade-policy.html
Assessing Utilization of Low-input Agriculture Technologies (liats) in Malawi: Adoption and Challenges for the Malawian Subsistence Farmer
http://www.tropical-gardener.com/articles/assessing-utilization-of-low-input-agriculture-technologies-liats-in-malawi-adoption-and-challenges-for-the-malawian-subsistence-farmer/

Environmental Assessments for Sierra Leone Help Sustainable Development

Freetown, 20 December 2010 The vital role of environmental assessments in supporting the sustainable use of Sierra Leone's rich natural heritage has won high level support at a seminar entitled 'Environmental Assessment: A Tool for Sustainable Development', which took place last week in the country's capital of Freetown

http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=653&ArticleID=6871&l=en


Kenya: HIV-Positive Woman On Food Aid Now Selling Food To WFP

Anne Rono is a small farmer, but after contracting HIV, lost the strength to farm her land. With the help of antiretroviral drugs and nutritious food, she’s not only back on her feet but selling her crops to WFP through an innovative new programme that links small farmers to markets.

http://www.wfp.org/stories/kenya-hiv-positve-woman-food-aid-now-selling-food-wfp

Community-based initiatives more effective against female genital cutting – UN

18 November 2010 – Initiatives to encourage communities in Africa to abandon female genital mutilation or cutting are more effective when used to reinforce the positive aspects of local cultures and build trust by implementing development projects, the findings of a United Nations study released today show.
“Rather than ‘fighting’ against local culture and presenting traditional behaviours as negative, effective programmes propose alternative mechanisms to signal adherence to shared community values and to frame the discussion surrounding FGM in a non-threatening way,” it states.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=36793&Cr=women&Cr1=

UN survey shows declining water availability in Africa, highlights solutions
25 November 2010 – The amount of water available per person in Africa is declining and only 26 of the continent's 53 countries are currently on track to reduce by half the number of people without sustainable access to clean drinking water by 2015, according to a survey by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released today.
Furthermore, only five countries in Africa are expected to attain the target of reducing by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 2015, the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of targets agreed to by all countries and leading development institutions to meet the needs of the world's poores

Scientists show waves of deforestation across East Africa

A new study co-authored by a WWF scientist documents waves of forest degradation advancing like ripples in a pond 75 miles across East Africa in just 14 years.

Scientists from 12 organizations in Europe, Africa and the US demonstrated that forest exploitation begins with the removal of the most valuable products first, such as timber for export, followed by the extraction of less valuable products such as low value timber and charcoal in strict sequence. This ‘logging down the profit margin’ in tropical forests follows the same pattern of removal seen for fish in unmanaged oceans.
http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_we_work/conservation/forests/news/?uNewsID=194429

WWF and Mozambique government join forces to protect marine resources

WWF and Mozambique agreed to work together to boost marine life protection and develop joint mechanisms to better investigate and monitor fisheries of the country with a coastline of nearly 3000 kilometres.

With such a vast coastline, a continental shelf and an Exclusive Economic Zone of about 508.092 km², Mozambique has a great interest in improving marine resource management, a key factor for food security and sustainable development.

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/blue_planet/news/?uNewsID=197671


Madagascar drought forces farmers into charcoal devastation

Toliara, Madagascar - 2 years of drought and late arrival of the rainy season in south western Madagascar have forced hundreds of farmers into charcoal producing which is devastating forests, according to WWF field staff at Tollara.

“Charcoal production in the South of Madagascar is particularly unsustainable as people cut the natural spiny forest, a unique ecosystem which exists nowhere else” says Bernardin Rasolonandrasana, Spiny Forest Eco-regional Leader for WWF in Toliara. “We are horrified to see the amount of charcoal currently coming out of those forests.”

http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_we_work/conservation/forests/news/?uNewsID=194629

Logistics "acrobat" supports WWF in Goma

David Mapendano is a logistician for WWF in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. He supports the Virunga Environmental Program, or PEVi. He explains what motivated him to seek a career in conservation, and the day-to-day challenges he faces.

It all began at the summit of Nyiragongo. My secondary school had organized a climb up the volcano. At the edge of the crater I gazed at the view in front of me. I was enticed by the beauty of the site and immediately convinced that it should be preserved at all costs. I was 17 years old. I then started a little vegetable garden at home, where I grew carrots, cabbages and other vegetab

http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=195534

Prospects improve for vital world water treaty

Africa needs stronger fisheries management, ministers told

Banjul, Gambia: African countries need to take fisheries management seriously, the first ever continental meeting of fisheries ministers has been told.

The Forum of South West Indian Ocean Civil Societies reminded the inaugural Conference of African Ministers on Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA) that 200 Million Africans were dependent on fisheries for food and livelihood.
http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/blue_planet/news/?uNewsID=195130

UNESCO recognizes threats to Madagascar rainforest

http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=194431


The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has placed the Atsinanana Rainforest in Madagascar on its list of World Heritage in Danger sites because of an ongoing government-influenced illegal logging crisis and continuing lemur bush meat consumption in some of the national parks that are part of the forest.

UNESCO in a statement noted that despite a decree outlawing the exploitation and export of precious woods, Madagascar continues to provide export permits for illegally logged rosewood and ebony. It also said that other countries that have ratified the World Heritage Convention are known destinations for this timber

WWF welcomes Central African clampdown on smugglers

Yaoundé, Cameroon – An operation by special police forces earlier this week in Central African Republic (CAR) led to the arrest of an important wildlife smuggler and seizure of elephant tusks and cat skins.

This comes amidst a series of similar successful operations in Cameroon, Gabon and Republic of Congo. WWF applauds these efforts as they give a clear warning to wildlife traffickers in the region.

The RALF (French acronym for Strengthening of the Wildlife Law Enforcement) project aims to increase wildlife law enforcement activities and judiciary follow-up of wildlife crimes in the CAR, targeting mainly high-level wildlife traffickers. It works closely with the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior.

http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=197635


Traditional Knowledge Protection for African Cultures

Nine of the seventeen nations that form the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) signed a protocol on the protection of Traditional knowledge and folklore. The protocol is meant to protect creations derived from traditional knowledge of ARIPO member states. The protocol contains sections on assignments, licenses, and the recognition of knowledge holders. There are also provisions for compulsory licenses when there is a superceding state need. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) praised the protocol in an August 31 statement calling it “an historic step for ARIPO’s seventeen member states, and a milestone in the evolution of intellectual property.”

http://www.ipbrief.net/2010/09/23/traditional-knowledge-protection-for-african-cultures/

Mapping Ecosystems, the Better to Conserve Them

Environmentalists have a special affinity for maps. Whether terrestrial or marine, the environment and its ills are tied to a geography that can be expressed in a rectilinear scale.
As science progresses, so do the maps. Witness the latest effort from the state of Massachusetts.
To ensure that largely private efforts to set aside land do the most public good, the state Department of Fish and Game has just unveiled the latest and most elaborate version of its online BioMap, complete with instructions on how to use it.
http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/05/mapping-ecosystems-the-better-to-conserve-them/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Saving critical wilderness areas in Rwanda's forests

The forests of the Congo Basin are still exceptionally intact. But with this unique ecosystem threatened by political unrest in the region, a series of projects aims to ensure they stay that way.

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6179577,00.html

Monday, 3 January 2011

Biodiversity, Wildlife, HIV/AIDS, Climate Change, Urban Environment, Environmental Assessment

The Congo Basin

African forests are a key piece of the climate puzzle and they are the livelihood of tens of millions.
The Congo Basin rainforest is the second largest on earth, taking up an area three times the size of France. About half lies within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the rest stretches across Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/forests/africa/

Africa's Future Lies in a Green Energy Grid

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Dec 14, 2010 (IPS) - Development in Africa could falter as climate change grips the continent, increasing the length and severity of droughts and floods by altering precipitation patterns, among other impacts.

The region needs a major shift in its economic development policies and thinking towards decentralised, green economic development, experts now say.

"The world's big economies are largely living off financial transactions which are unconnected to development," warns Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary-general of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Africa: Key Issues at Cancun

http://www.africafocus.org/docs10/can1012a.php


Adaptation: An Essential Response to Climate Change

Adaptation has been the “ugly duckling” of climate change for decades. In the climate change policy community, no one wanted to talk about adaptation — instead, we wanted to see emissions reduced to the point where no one need worry about impacts like sea level rise or droughts.

http://blog.conservation.org/2010/12/adaptation-essential-response-to-climate-change/

Urbanization and Environmental Sustainability

Now home to half of the world's people, cities are increasingly at the forefront of our most pressing environmental challenges. While the current pace of urbanization is not unique in human history, the sheer magnitude of urban growth--driven by massive demographic shifts in the developing world--is unprecedented, with vast implications for human well-being and the environment. However, where cities pose environmental problems, they also offer solutions. As hotspots of consumption, production, and waste generation, cities possess unparalleled potential to increase the energy efficiency and sustainability of society as a whole

http://earthtrends.wri.org/updates/node/287

Climate change winners and losers in Sahel

Submitted by Camilla Toulmin on Wed, 22/12/2010 - 07:29

Earlier this month, I spent a week in Mali, going back to the villages which I have studied for the past 30 years. While international climate negotiators met in Cancun, Mexico, for the UN summit on climate change, I was keen to catch up on how climate change was affecting livelihoods in the West African Sahel.

This year has brought heavy rain to much of the region and with it, a mixed bag of impacts on yields of the local staple crop, millet. For farmers in the Kala region north of Segou in central Mali, the heavy rainfall has been good for the long-cycle sanyo millet, which takes 6–7 months to mature. But the fast-growing souna millet, which matures in 3–4 months, has performed poorly. This is partly due to impoverishment of soils. “When rain falls heavily you need a lot of power in the soil — that power is supplied by animal dung. That’s what creates the heat that supplies energy to the crop,” says local farmer Ganiba Dembele, showing me the yellow leaves of the souna millet. He and other farmers recognise that their plots need to be replenished with dung each year if they are to produce well, particularly in wetter growing conditions. “We’ve increased the size of our fields so much, we can’t get enough dung from our flocks and herds to keep them well-fertilised. It’s lucky we have sanyo to make up the deficit,” he adds.
http://www.iied.org/sustainable-markets/blog/climate-change-winners-and-losers-sahel

CLIMATE CHANGE: Adaptation Fund starts delivering

Johannesburg, 24 September 2010 (IRIN) - In what is being hailed as a breakthrough for a "collective effort" by developed and developing countries, the Adaptation Fund set up by the UN to help poor countries cope with the unfolding impact of climate change has finally become operational.

Last week, the Fund's board approved two adaptation projects, one in Senegal - threatened by sea-level rise, less rainfall and high temperatures - and the other in Honduras, which faces increasing water shortages.

The two projects worth a total of about US$14 million are not only the first to be approved by the board but also the first to get money directly from the Fund. Developing countries had been lobbying for direct access, and have now been granted control over how to spend the funds.

http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportId=90571

Indigenous peoples key to timber trade policy

ITTO's Civil Society Advisory Group (l to r): Chen Hin Keong, Global Forest Trade Programme Leader, TRAFFIC; Cecile Ndjebet, Coordinator, Cameroon Ecology and President of REFACOF – African Women’s Network for Community Forest Management; Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director, ITTO; Christine Wulandari, FKKM – Indonesian Community Forestry Communications Forum; Augusta Molnar, Rights and Resources Institute; Francis Colee, Green Advocates, LiberiaYokohama, Japan, 18th December 2010—The views of indigenous peoples and community-based organizations are an essential element of forestry and climate change debates, and their opinions are vital in shaping policies and decisions in the forestry sector, a key timber meeting in Japan this week was told.
http://www.traffic.org/home/2010/12/18/indigenous-peoples-key-to-timber-trade-policy.html
Assessing Utilization of Low-input Agriculture Technologies (liats) in Malawi: Adoption and Challenges for the Malawian Subsistence Farmer
http://www.tropical-gardener.com/articles/assessing-utilization-of-low-input-agriculture-technologies-liats-in-malawi-adoption-and-challenges-for-the-malawian-subsistence-farmer/

Environmental Assessments for Sierra Leone Help Sustainable Development

Freetown, 20 December 2010 The vital role of environmental assessments in supporting the sustainable use of Sierra Leone's rich natural heritage has won high level support at a seminar entitled 'Environmental Assessment: A Tool for Sustainable Development', which took place last week in the country's capital of Freetown

http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=653&ArticleID=6871&l=en


Kenya: HIV-Positive Woman On Food Aid Now Selling Food To WFP

Anne Rono is a small farmer, but after contracting HIV, lost the strength to farm her land. With the help of antiretroviral drugs and nutritious food, she’s not only back on her feet but selling her crops to WFP through an innovative new programme that links small farmers to markets.

http://www.wfp.org/stories/kenya-hiv-positve-woman-food-aid-now-selling-food-wfp

Community-based initiatives more effective against female genital cutting – UN

18 November 2010 – Initiatives to encourage communities in Africa to abandon female genital mutilation or cutting are more effective when used to reinforce the positive aspects of local cultures and build trust by implementing development projects, the findings of a United Nations study released today show.
“Rather than ‘fighting’ against local culture and presenting traditional behaviours as negative, effective programmes propose alternative mechanisms to signal adherence to shared community values and to frame the discussion surrounding FGM in a non-threatening way,” it states.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=36793&Cr=women&Cr1=

UN survey shows declining water availability in Africa, highlights solutions
25 November 2010 – The amount of water available per person in Africa is declining and only 26 of the continent's 53 countries are currently on track to reduce by half the number of people without sustainable access to clean drinking water by 2015, according to a survey by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released today.
Furthermore, only five countries in Africa are expected to attain the target of reducing by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 2015, the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of targets agreed to by all countries and leading development institutions to meet the needs of the world's poores

Scientists show waves of deforestation across East Africa

A new study co-authored by a WWF scientist documents waves of forest degradation advancing like ripples in a pond 75 miles across East Africa in just 14 years.

Scientists from 12 organizations in Europe, Africa and the US demonstrated that forest exploitation begins with the removal of the most valuable products first, such as timber for export, followed by the extraction of less valuable products such as low value timber and charcoal in strict sequence. This ‘logging down the profit margin’ in tropical forests follows the same pattern of removal seen for fish in unmanaged oceans.
http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_we_work/conservation/forests/news/?uNewsID=194429

WWF and Mozambique government join forces to protect marine resources

WWF and Mozambique agreed to work together to boost marine life protection and develop joint mechanisms to better investigate and monitor fisheries of the country with a coastline of nearly 3000 kilometres.

With such a vast coastline, a continental shelf and an Exclusive Economic Zone of about 508.092 km², Mozambique has a great interest in improving marine resource management, a key factor for food security and sustainable development.

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/blue_planet/news/?uNewsID=197671


Madagascar drought forces farmers into charcoal devastation

Toliara, Madagascar - 2 years of drought and late arrival of the rainy season in south western Madagascar have forced hundreds of farmers into charcoal producing which is devastating forests, according to WWF field staff at Tollara.

“Charcoal production in the South of Madagascar is particularly unsustainable as people cut the natural spiny forest, a unique ecosystem which exists nowhere else” says Bernardin Rasolonandrasana, Spiny Forest Eco-regional Leader for WWF in Toliara. “We are horrified to see the amount of charcoal currently coming out of those forests.”

http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_we_work/conservation/forests/news/?uNewsID=194629

Logistics "acrobat" supports WWF in Goma

David Mapendano is a logistician for WWF in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. He supports the Virunga Environmental Program, or PEVi. He explains what motivated him to seek a career in conservation, and the day-to-day challenges he faces.

It all began at the summit of Nyiragongo. My secondary school had organized a climb up the volcano. At the edge of the crater I gazed at the view in front of me. I was enticed by the beauty of the site and immediately convinced that it should be preserved at all costs. I was 17 years old. I then started a little vegetable garden at home, where I grew carrots, cabbages and other vegetab

http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=195534

Prospects improve for vital world water treaty

Africa needs stronger fisheries management, ministers told

Banjul, Gambia: African countries need to take fisheries management seriously, the first ever continental meeting of fisheries ministers has been told.

The Forum of South West Indian Ocean Civil Societies reminded the inaugural Conference of African Ministers on Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA) that 200 Million Africans were dependent on fisheries for food and livelihood.
http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/blue_planet/news/?uNewsID=195130

UNESCO recognizes threats to Madagascar rainforest

http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=194431


The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has placed the Atsinanana Rainforest in Madagascar on its list of World Heritage in Danger sites because of an ongoing government-influenced illegal logging crisis and continuing lemur bush meat consumption in some of the national parks that are part of the forest.

UNESCO in a statement noted that despite a decree outlawing the exploitation and export of precious woods, Madagascar continues to provide export permits for illegally logged rosewood and ebony. It also said that other countries that have ratified the World Heritage Convention are known destinations for this timber

WWF welcomes Central African clampdown on smugglers

Yaoundé, Cameroon – An operation by special police forces earlier this week in Central African Republic (CAR) led to the arrest of an important wildlife smuggler and seizure of elephant tusks and cat skins.

This comes amidst a series of similar successful operations in Cameroon, Gabon and Republic of Congo. WWF applauds these efforts as they give a clear warning to wildlife traffickers in the region.

The RALF (French acronym for Strengthening of the Wildlife Law Enforcement) project aims to increase wildlife law enforcement activities and judiciary follow-up of wildlife crimes in the CAR, targeting mainly high-level wildlife traffickers. It works closely with the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior.

http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=197635


Traditional Knowledge Protection for African Cultures

Nine of the seventeen nations that form the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) signed a protocol on the protection of Traditional knowledge and folklore. The protocol is meant to protect creations derived from traditional knowledge of ARIPO member states. The protocol contains sections on assignments, licenses, and the recognition of knowledge holders. There are also provisions for compulsory licenses when there is a superceding state need. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) praised the protocol in an August 31 statement calling it “an historic step for ARIPO’s seventeen member states, and a milestone in the evolution of intellectual property.”

http://www.ipbrief.net/2010/09/23/traditional-knowledge-protection-for-african-cultures/

Mapping Ecosystems, the Better to Conserve Them

Environmentalists have a special affinity for maps. Whether terrestrial or marine, the environment and its ills are tied to a geography that can be expressed in a rectilinear scale.
As science progresses, so do the maps. Witness the latest effort from the state of Massachusetts.
To ensure that largely private efforts to set aside land do the most public good, the state Department of Fish and Game has just unveiled the latest and most elaborate version of its online BioMap, complete with instructions on how to use it.
http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/05/mapping-ecosystems-the-better-to-conserve-them/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Saving critical wilderness areas in Rwanda's forests

The forests of the Congo Basin are still exceptionally intact. But with this unique ecosystem threatened by political unrest in the region, a series of projects aims to ensure they stay that way.

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6179577,00.html

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