The Pacom Annual Report (2001/2002) To Start Ssc
Odada, Eric O
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At the beginning of the new millennium Africa is characterized by two interrelated features: rising poverty levels and deepening environmental degradation. Africa is the poorest region of the world. It has the largest share of people living on less than US $1 per day. Almost 40% of the people in Africa live below the poverty line. At least one-third of Africa’s population is undernourished and that number is also growing. Africa is the only region of the world where poverty is projected to rise during this century if adequate measures are not urgently taken. Of the 45 countries on the UNDP list of Low Human Development Indicators, 35 are in Africa. Indeed two-thirds of the 48 countries included in the list of Least Developed Countries are in Africa. Related to the rising poverty is the degradation of the environment and increasing loss of the region’s natural resources. UNEP’s Africa Environment Outlook (AEO) report observes that conditions in natural habitats and fragile ecosystems have been deteriorating resulting in diminishing biodiversity. There are high rates of exploitation of such resources as freshwater, forests, and coastal and marine stocks continue to be used at rates beyond their viable rates of replacement. Land degradation, natural as well as human-induced environmental disasters and invasive alien species continue to be major problems in Africa. Natural disasters, such as floods, droughts, earthquakes and landslides cause considerable human suffering and economic damage in the continent. On the whole, environmental degradation undermines prospects of fighting poverty, economic growth and sustainable development in Africa. The vicious circle between poverty and degradation of the environment needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner.