According to the conservation organization WWF, African countries are slowly but surely draining the continent of its natural resources. The statement is part of a report issued by the organization on Africa’s ecological footprint – it takes into account a country’s land and sea surface that is used in meeting the peoples’ consumption needs. The report entitled “Africa-Ecological Footprint and Human Well-being” was released along with a U.S.-based research body, the Global Footprint Network.
“A growing number of African countries are depleting their natural resources — or will shortly be doing so — faster than they can be replaced,” said WWF President, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, in presenting the findings to a Johannesburg conference.
The list is topped by countries such as Egypt, Libya or Algeria, whose people are living well beyond their ecological means. Further down the list, other nine countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe) are using resources beyond their capacity. Despite these consumption needs, Africa’s overall ecological footprint should be 1.3 hectares of land and sea per capita, but is now at 1.1.
If it were to continue at this pace, scientists believe that we will need the equivalent of two planets by 2050. Furthermore, Africa’s population of 680 million is growing rapidly and is expected to represent a quarter of the world’s population by 2050.
“Development that ignores the limits of our natural resources ultimately ends up imposing disproportionate costs on the most vulnerable and the most dependent on the health of natural systems, such as the rural poor,” said Global Footprint Network director Mathis Wackernagel.
According to the organization, Africa has been under threat of losing its natural resources for several years. Global warming means reducing rainfall that affects crops and animals alike. The effects of global warming can be seen on top of Mount Kilimanjaro which has shrunk by more than 80% since 1900. East Africa’s corals are not looking better either – more than 50% have either died or have been bleached as a result of heat levels in the water.
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