Environmental Challenges in South Africa

I thought it would be useful to outline some of the environmental challenges in my country. The paradox we face is that our country has urgent development needs while at the same time our natural heritage is sensitive and represents our biggest asset.

Here are some issues (big and small):

  • ageing infrastructure that contributes to water pollution
  • rampant illegal developments
  • habitat loss threatening endangered species
  • illegal hunting with dogs
  • air pollution from generating electricity
  • shortage of properly managed landfill sites
  • collection of plants and animals for traditional medicine
  • Lack of recycling facilities and collection points

To complicate matter environmental problems are complicated by:

  • Lack of skills and passion in government departments
  • complicated system of governmental cooperation
  • low awareness around environmental issues
  • a perception that green is anti-development
  • low priority given to environmental crimes
  • poor enforcement of legislation

On the positive side:

  • many critical areas have been conserved
  • many companies are on par with global sustainability leaders
  • poverty alleviation projects have been geared to environmental improvement
  • Awareness is growing
  • to compete in EU markets (our major trading partner) we need to maintain high standards.

The challenge for us will be to improve peoples lives without destroying our natural capital. While our country is blessed with mineral resources we will need to gradually diversify into other areas. Provided we can solve some of our social issues, tourism could become the major contributor to GDP in the future.

To see what ordinary people are doing in South Africa see:





Tagged with:
Posted in ecological degradation
2 comments on “Environmental Challenges in South Africa
  1. colinhickey says:

    With reference to the above post have the Millennium goals as set in 2000 had any effect on teh situation in Africa?
    This declaration committed global nations to a new global partnership. This partnership contained the objective, to reduce extreme poverty and set out a succession of targets, with a deadline of 2015.

    The Millennium Development Goals contain the world’s time-bound targets for addressing; poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, equality, education, and environmental sustainability. They are also basic human rights, the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security. (United Nations, 2001)

    The Millennium Development Goals Explained
    The Following is adapted from the UN development project (UNDP) report on; goals, targets and indicators. (United Nations, 2006)
    Goals, targets and indicators
    The internationally agreed framework of 8 goals and 18 targets was complemented by 48 technical indicators to measure progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

    These indicators have since been adopted by a consensus of experts from the United Nations, IMF, OECD and the World Bank.
    Each indicator below is linked to millennium data series as well as to background series related to the target in question.

    Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
    Target 1. Halve poverty rates, between 1990 and 2015, This poverty line is the proportion of people with an income is less than $1 a day.

    The Indicators of Goal 1 are:
    1. The proportion of the population earning less than $1 per day. (World Bank)
    2. The poverty gap ratio [incidence x depth of poverty]. (World Bank)

    Target 2. Halve hunger, between 1990 and 2015.

    1.The prevalence of underweight children under five years of age. (UNICEF-WHO)
    2. The proportion of population with below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption. (FAO)

    Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
    Target 3. To ensure that, by 2015, all children will be able to complete primary school.

    1. The net enrolment ratio in primary education. (UNESCO)
    2. The proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach grade 5. (UNESCO)
    3. The literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds. (UNESCO)

    Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
    Target 4.To eliminates gender inequality in primary and secondary education (preferably) by 2005 and subsequently in all levels of education by 2015.

    1. The ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education (UNESCO)
    2. The ratio of literate women to men, in 15-24 years old (UNESCO)
    3. The share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector (ILO)
    4. The proportion of seats held by women in national parliament (IPU)

    Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality
    Target 5. To reduce by two-thirds the under five mortality rate by 2015.

    1. The under-five mortality rate. (UNICEF-WHO)
    2. The infant mortality rate. (UNICEF-WHO)
    3. The proportion of 1 year-old children immunized against measles. (UNICEF-WHO)

    Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health
    Target 6. To reduce by three-quarters the maternal mortality ratio by 2015.

    1. The maternal mortality ratio. (UNICEF-WHO)
    2. The proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel. (UNICEF-WHO)

    Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
    Target 7. To halt by 2015 and to have begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS

    1. The prevalence of HIV among pregnant women aged 15-24 years. (UNAIDS-WHO-UNICEF)
    2. The Condom use rate of the contraceptive prevalence rate. (UN Population Division)
    3(a). Condom use during high-risk sex. (UNICEF-WHO)
    3(b). Percentage of population aged 15-24 years with comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS. (UNICEF-WHO)
    3(c). Contraceptive prevalence rate. (UN Population Division)
    4. The ratio of school attendance of orphans to school attendance of non-orphans aged 10-14 years. (UNICEF-UNAIDS-WHO)
    Target 8. To have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.

    1. The prevalence and death rates associated with malaria. (WHO)
    2. The proportion of population in malaria risk areas using effective malaria prevention and treatment measures. (UNICEF-WHO)
    3. The prevalence and death rates associated with tuberculosis. (WHO)
    4. The proportion of tuberculosis cases detected and cured under DOTS (internationally recommended TB control strategy) (WHO)

    Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
    Target 9. To integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources by 2015.

    1. The proportion of land area covered by forest. (FAO)
    2. The ratio of area protected to maintain biological diversity to surface area. (UNEP-WCMC)
    3. The energy use (kg oil equivalent) per $1 GDP. (IEA, World Bank)
    4. The carbon dioxide emissions per capita (UNFCCC, UNSD) and consumption of ozone-depleting CFCs (UNEP-Ozone Secretariat)
    5. The proportion of population using solid fuels. (WHO)
    Target 10. To halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015

    1. The proportion of population with sustainable access to an improved water source, urban and rural (UNICEF-WHO)
    2. The proportion of population with access to improved sanitation, urban and rural. (UNICEF-WHO)
    Target 11. To have achieved by 2020 a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.

    1. The proportion of households with access to secure tenure (UN-HABITAT)

    Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
    Target 12. To develop further, an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system which includes a commitment to good governance, development, and poverty reduction both nationally and internationally
    Target 13. To address the special needs of the Least Developed countries.
    Target 14. To address the special needs of landlocked developing countries.
    Target 15. To deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term.

    Official development assistance (ODA)

    1. The proportion of total bilateral, sector-allocable ODA of OECD/DAC donors to basic social services. (basic education, primary health care, nutrition, safe water and sanitation) (OECD)
    2. The proportion of bilateral ODA of OECD/DAC donors that is untied. (OECD)
    3. ODA received in landlocked developing countries as a proportion of their GNIs. (OECD)
    4. ODA received in small island developing States as proportion of their GNIs. (OECD)
    Market access
    1. The proportion of total developed country imports (by value and excluding arms) from developing countries and from LDCs, admitted free of duty (UNCTAD, WTO, WB)
    2. Average tariffs imposed by developed countries on agricultural products and textiles and clothing from developing countries (UNCTAD, WTO, WB)
    3. Agricultural support estimate for OECD countries as percentage of their GDP (OECD)
    4. Proportion of ODA provided to help build trade capacity (OECD, WTO)
    Debt sustainability
    5. Total number of countries that have reached their Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) decision points and number that have reached their HIPC completion points (cumulative) (IMF – World Bank)
    6. Debt relief committed under HIPC initiative (IMF-World Bank)
    7. Debt service as a percentage of exports of goods and services (IMF-World Bank)
    Some of the indicators listed below are monitored separately for the least developed countries, Africa, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states
    Target 16. In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth
    1. Unemployment rate of young people aged 15-24 years, each sex and total (ILO)
    Target 17. In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
    1. Proportion of population with access to affordable essential drugs on a sustainable basis (WHO)

    Target 18. In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications technology.
    1. Telephone lines and cellular subscribers per 100 population (ITU)
    2. Personal computers in use per 100 population and Internet users per 100 population (ITU)

  2. jeremy says:

    As we discussed numerous times last week, there should be no need for a developing country to follow the same ecologically destructive path to economic development as the developed countries. Sadly, there is a good chance this will happen unless there is some coordinated effort by the developed world to provide strategic aid assistance to address the skill and technological shortcomings you referred to in your post. This, of course, is precisely what the MDGs are all about. Let’s hope these countries deliver on their commitments.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: