Table of content
Contemporary Challenges in Africa
In this paper, a brief analysis of the challenges affecting Africa will be attempted and the opportunities Africa can seize to strengthen her influence on the global arena. Africa has and continues to face a myriad of challenges which have inadvertently lowered her global standing. It is on this basis that her current leaders are tasked with the responsibility of remedying the situation for the betterment of her people more so those in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the current challenges Africa faces include youth unemployment, water scarcity, food insecurity, biodiversity loss, among others. Indeed, these efforts to alleviate these challenges have a bearing on Africa’s international relations with other nations. These will be evaluated in depth in the next section.
Contemporary Challenges in Africa
i. Water Scarcity
According to the United Nations, Africa is described by profoundly factor precipitation which brings about lopsided appropriation of water assets, with huge regions, for example, the Sahara and Kalahari abandons influenced by serious aridity. Conversely, Africa is likewise home to significant huge streams, for example, the Congo, Nile, Zambezi and Niger to significant lakes, for example, Lake Victoria. Consequently, the mainland has bountiful water assets. Sadly, however water assets are though plentiful as groundwater and surface water, there exist numerous water-related issues as far as accessibility and quality are concerned for up to 40 percent of dwellers in sub-Sahara Africa1.
In fact, according to the African Development Bank, Africa has about 100m3 per capita a low amount when contrasted with the worldwide normal of 1,000m3 per capita. The requests applied by developing modern turn of events and metropolitan populaces keep on squeezing numerous administrations. In addition to this challenge, then 80% of Africa's waterways are shared by at least two nations, making territorial collaboration basic in the administration of these transboundary water assets. Unfortunately, it is projected that numerous many African countries will experience the ill effects of water shortage and water stress in coming decades because of population increase leading to increase in the competition for the dwindling water resources2.
Some of the challenges and constraints continue to limit or hindering sustainable management of freshwater resources in Africa include: Weak state institutions with poor technical and financial capacity; Inadequate political and financial support from countries; Climate change and Water quality degradation due to anthropogenic effects and industrial activities such as mining. Ground water on the other hand is limited by issues such as: Poor hydro-geological knowledge of the extent and capacity of aquifers; Lack of high-quality groundwater information systems among other issues.3
To overcome this problem of water scarcity, a few solutions have been attempted. These include the establishment of the African Council of Ministers for Water (AMCOW) and the Africa Water Task Force; Development and Implementation of African Water Vision 2025; The establishment of the African Water Facility; Developing protocols for shared water resources and watershed initiatives; The development of several cross-border river basin programs; Reform programs for the water sector; And the development of new guidelines, strategies and laws for the development and management of water resources based on the principles of water resources integrated management (IWRM). Although the measures taken by countries have led to some growth in population with access to clean water, interventions are more focused on urban areas and more needs to be done to reach rural populations.4
ii. Biodiversity Loss
According to scholar Malloch, Africa has the world’s highest endemism rate with a quarter of all biodiversity hotspots recognized internationally. Furthermore, biological resources sustain the lives of millions of people in Africa. For example, two-thirds of the population of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) depends on forest products that contain wild resources and non-timber forest products that provide up to 35 percent of rural household income in Zimbabwe and up to 50 percent in Senegal.5 Economic activities such as tourism, which is heavily dependent on terrestrial and marine ecosystems, bring in more than $ 700 million in foreign currency to countries like Kenya. These revenues from biodiversity resources are likely to cease threats from biodiversity loss.6 Another form of biodiversity loss comes from land use changes such as agriculture which continues to encroach on wetlands up to a rate of 50 percent according to the United Nations.7
To overcome this challenge, there have been concerted efforts to mainstream biodiversity into many African nations ecological and economic agendas. This has been through increase in research on the links between biodiversity and issues such as climate change which will be evaluated in the next sub-section.
iii. Climate Change
According to the 2018 Africa Food Security and Nutrition Review Report, many African countries continue to face adverse climatic conditions that cause hunger and food insecurity. For example, the El Niño event in 2015-2016 caused temperatures above normal in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, creating a widespread drought that affected millions of people8. Climate change has changed the structure of agricultural production in Africa: rainfall has become unpredictable in many countries, and when it rains it is either too late or too early or too little or too much, and it either rains for a shorter period than before or for a long time resulting in farmers not knowing what and when to grow their food crops, as many planting times are lost due to irregular rainfall patterns.9
The United Nations has projected that drought-hit regions in Africa will increase from 60 million hectares to 90 million hectares by 2060, and the number of undernourished Africans will increase by 600 million over the next 50 years. For example, South Africa will lose over 30 percent of its corn production by 2030. In 2008, the United Nations reported that around 30,000 people in Chad were affected by floods that same year, while the Red Cross reported that 75,000 Ethiopians were severely affected by droughts .
To overcome this challenge African nations through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)in 2010 developed the Climate-Smart Agriculture concept as a strategy to manage agriculture and food systems against climate change10. Through this concept, three pillars are to be attained. These are: sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes, adapting and building resilience to climate change, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions where possible11.
Another key programme meant to mitigate climate change in Africa is the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) launched by the African Union in 2007 aimed at sustainable management and restoration of dryland forests and rangelands through promotion of income generating activities in rural areas targeting the youth and women12. This programme also supports communities in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gambia, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.13 Other climate initiatives focused on agriculture include the R4 Resilience Initiative launched by the World Food Programme in 2011 to enable vulnerable rural families increase their food and income security in Malawi, Senegal, Zambia, Kenya and Zimbabwe. The programme aims at improving resource management by creation of assets, insurance, livelihoods diversification and microcredit as well as savings14. These and other initiatives are examples of efforts towards helping farmers adapt to climate change while increasing agricultural productivity and improve Africa’s positioning on the global front.
Desertification is one of the most serious challenges affecting sustainable development in Africa. It is closely linked to poverty and affects health, food security, natural resources and the environment. Two-thirds of the continent is either desert or arid. These areas are concentrated in the Sahel / Sahara region, Horn of Africa and Kalahari in the south. Most of the land in Africa is also in a state of erosion, with drought and deserts having the greatest impact. Land degradation affects at least 485 million people or 65 percent of the entire African population. Areas at risk of landslides and desertification are likely to increase due to the effects of climate change. Under many climate scenarios, it is estimated that barren and semi-arid lands in Africa will increase by 5-8 percent15.
To address this challenge and improve Africa’s standing in international relations, measures taken to combat desertification include the development of National Action Plans (NAPS) in the context of the implementation of the UNCCD with ssupport provided by the NEPAD Environment Initiative, Sahara Green Wall Initiative and the African Land Policy Initiative. Moreover, the National Development Plans and NDPS and the process of integrating NAP for Combat Desert in Poverty Alleviation Strategy Papers (PRSPs) has been slow and ineffective. Unfortunately, oonly a few countries have succeeded in these desert mitigation initiatives with the biggest hinderances being lack of capacity and resources lead which lead to the inability to integrate desert control schemes into plans and budgetary structures at various levels. Moreover, poverty in most countries limits the sense that communities must take local action to combat desert warfare.16
1 United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 2012, New and Emerging Challenges in Africa Summary Report, p. 3
2 AfDB, 2010. The Africa Infrastructure Development Index. Economic Brief.
3 Op cit, p. 4
4 Ibid, p. 4
5 Malloch, 2004
6 Steiner, A. (2007). Curbing Climate Change: Risks and Opportunities for World’s Wildlife in Gincana 3: Biological Diversity and Climate Change. http://www.cbd.int/doc/publications/cbd-gincana- 03-en.pdf
7 United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 2012, New and Emerging Challenges in Africa Summary Report, p. 2
8 W.O. Fawole, *E. Ilbasmis and *B. Ozkan, 2015, FOOD INSECURITY IN AFRICA IN TERMS OF CAUSES, EFFECTS AND SOLUTIONS: A CASE STUDY OF NIGERIA, Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Agriculture, Akdeniz University, 07058, Dumlupınar Bulvarı, Antalya, Turkey, p. 6
10 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Accra, 2018, 2018 REGIONAL OVERVIEW OF FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION AFRICA ADDRESSING THE THREAT FROM CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND EXTREMES FOR FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION, p. 55
11 FAO. 2018b. Crop prospects and food situation. Quarterly Global Report #2, June 2018. Rome.
12 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Accra, 2018, 2018 REGIONAL OVERVIEW OF FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION AFRICA ADDRESSING THE THREAT FROM CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND EXTREMES FOR FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION, p. 56
14 Ibid, p. 57
15 United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 2012, New and Emerging Challenges in Africa Summary Report, p. 8
16 Ibid, p. 8
- Quote paper
- Mbogo Wa Wambui (Author), 2020, Africas Challenges and International Relations. A Critical Examination and the Prospects of Achieving her Interests in the International Arena, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1130304