by Alemneh Dejene
Environment and Natural Resources Service
FAO Research, Extension and Training Division
NEPAD is a home-grown approach to tackling Africa’s many development challenges. It represents the vision and collective determination of African leaders to place their respective countries on the path of self-reliant sustainable development. The NEPAD vision recognizes the key role that increased agricultural productivity can play, driven by widespread adoption of improved technology and targeted investment, in poverty reduction in Africa. The international community at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002, welcomed and embodied NEPAD and pledged its support to the implementation of its vision. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) – prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the NEPAD Secretariat and endorsed by African Ministers of Agriculture - is an important step towards achieving NEPAD’s goal of fostering broad-based agricultural-led economic growth in African countries by focusing on improving agricultural productivity and competitiveness.
To attain this vision, the CAADP aims at putting agricultural growth and competitiveness back on top of Africa’s development agenda. It aims to do this by focusing investments in four key pillars that would require an indicative cost of US$251 billion between 2002 and 2015 in the following areas: (a) expansion and maintenance of the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems requiring approximately US$69 billion; (b) improvement of rural infrastructure US$126 billion, and trade related capacity for market access US$3 billion; (c) enhancement of food supplies and reduction of hunger (involving smallholder technology and policy improvement US$8 billion and safety net and emergencies US$35 billion. A fourth and long-term pillar is in agricultural research and technology dissemination and adoption estimated to cost US$5 billion.
However, one major shortcoming of the CAADP is that there is heavy emphasis on agricultural crops and little on the livestock, fisheries and forests sectors even though these sectors have been a central part of food supply as well as an important source of income in most African countries. Furthermore, the issues of environmental sustainability and natural resources management have been lacking in the CAADP. Realizing this, FAO has prepared a companion document on the forestry, fisheries, and livestock sectors which was endorsed by the NEPAD Secretariat and the FAO Regional Conference for Africa in March 2004. This paper highlights the challenges and the opportunities facing Africa in the sustainable utilization and management of its natural resources and sustainable development of the livestock, fisheries and forestry sectors, which are crucial to the attainment of the objectives of CAADP.
NEPAD is a home-grown approach to tackling Africa’s many development challenges. It represents the vision and collective determination of African leaders to place their respective countries on the path of self-reliant sustainable development. The NEPAD vision rightly recognizes the key role that increased agricultural productivity, driven by widespread adoption of improved technology and targeted investment, can play in poverty reduction in Africa. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) – prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the NEPAD Secretariat and endorsed by African Ministers of Agriculture - is an important step towards achieving NEPAD’s goal of fostering broad-based agricultural-led economic growth in African countries by focusing on improving agricultural productivity and competitiveness.
Within the overall vision of NEPAD, the CAADP outlook for African agriculture seeks to maximize the contribution of agriculture in reducing poverty, hunger and food insecurity in African countries. A 1 percent increase in agricultural productivity will reduce poverty by six million people in Africa (Timmer, 1997) and a 10 percent increase in crop yields has been shown to lead to a 9 percent decrease in the percentage of Africans living on less than $1 a day (Irz, et al.). The CAADP is clear testimony of the FAO and the NEPAD Secretariat’s recognition that agriculture has been and will continue to be the foundation of any serious effort to achieve overall economic growth in Africa and that agricultural growth will remain in the forefront of any serious war against poverty in Africa. Specifically, by 2015 the CAADP envisions to attain food security among the poor; improve the productivity of agriculture by an average of 6 percent annually, particularly with respect to small-scale farmers; attain better integration into the market economy, including regional and global markets; promote environmentally sound production and natural resources management practices.
To attain this vision, the CAADP aims at putting agricultural growth and competitiveness back on top of Africa’s development agenda. It aims to do this by focusing investments in four key pillars that are expected to make the earliest difference in the transformation of African agriculture. These include: expansion of the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems; improvement of rural infrastructures and trade-related capacities for improved market access; enhancement of food supplies and reduction of hunger including emphasis on emergencies and disasters that require food and agricultural responses; development of agricultural research, technological dissemination and adoption to sustain long-term productivity growth.
NEPAD’s vision for agriculture focuses on targeted investment in a few selected pillars that would pull Africa out of the current agricultural stagnation and food crisis. Given that the majority of Africa’s population live in rural areas and are small-scale farmers, NEPAD recognizes that agriculture-led development would be the engine for economic growth, enhancing agricultural productivity and reducing the heavy dependency on imported food aid in the continent. The key pillars for priority investment to attain this vision would require an indicative cost of US$251 billion between 2002 and 2015 in the following areas: (a) expansion and maintenance of the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems requiring approximately US$69 billion; (b) improvement of rural infrastructure US$126 billion, and trade related capacity for market access US$3 billion; (c) enhancement of food supplies and reduction of hunger (involving smallholder technology and policy improvement US$8 billion and safety net and emergencies US$35 billion. A fourth and long-term pillar is in agricultural research and technology dissemination and adoption estimated to cost US$5 billion.
These targeted investments would generate an average annual agricultural growth of 6 percent and bring rapid transformation of the agricultural and rural sectors. To this end the Heads of African States in Maputo in 2003 committed themselves to allocating at least 10 percent of their national budget to implementing the CAADP within the next five years (known as the Maputo Declaration). Intensification of land, water and water resources are key to attaining this growth. For example, investment in land and water calls for increasing the area under irrigation by 20 million hectares. Substantial increase in mineral fertilizer is argued from the current 9 kg/ha in sub-Saharan Africa to 23 kg /ha to attain the 6 percent agricultural growth. Improvement in rural infrastructure calls for US$62 billion for rural roads. With this unprecedented commitment and investment outlay to accelerate production and modernize African agriculture, this section would examine and highlight some of the key environmental issues that need to be considered in order to prevent the degradation of the natural resources base upon which the long-term agricultural growth and livelihood of the majority of rural people depend.
However, one major shortcoming of the CAADP is that there is heavy emphasis on agricultural crops and little on the livestock, fisheries and forests sectors even though these sectors have been a central part of food supply, as well as an important source of income in most African countries. Furthermore, the issues of natural resources management and environmental sustainability in the context of CAADP has been lacking. Realizing that the issues of livestock, fisheries and forest development and management have not been adequately addressed in the CAADP, FAO has prepared a companion document on the forestry, fisheries, and livestock sectors which has been endorsed by the NEPAD Secretariat and the FAO Regional Conference for Africa in 2004. This paper highlights the challenges and the opportunities facing Africa in the sustainable utilization and management of its natural resources and sustainable development of the livestock, fisheries and forestry sectors, which are crucial to the attainment of the objectives CAADP.
1. Land and Soils
Approximately 83 percent of Africa’s land (amounting to 700 million hectares) has serious soil fertility and other production constraints. Many of the soils in the sub-Saharan Africa area characterized by nitrogen (N) and phosphors deficiencies (P), lack of soil organic matter, low water holding capacity, high acidity and erosivity. Soil degradation and nutrient depletion results in considerable loss of agricultural potential and natural capital estimated at US$1 to 3 billion per year. The decline in soil and land productivity is widespread in many parts of Africa and is a combination of many factors, including overcultivation, overgrazing, deforestation, soil fertility decline, salinization, soil erosion, soil compaction, agrochemical pollution and inappropriate farming and land management practices and inequitable land tenure policies. Without major investment in maintaining soil and land productivity, the majority of small-scale farmers who depend on the land would find it difficult to sustain production and would be increasingly vulnerable to chronic food shortage and recurrent famine and drought as witnessed in the past decades.
Desertification is also a major threat to many African countries. Climate variability (floods and droughts) and the demographic, economic (poverty), and social pressure fuel the degradation of grassland, woodlands, croplands and watering sources. Desertification is manifested in the physical loss of top soil, formation of gulleys, hardening of soils, absence of soil humus and nutrients, loss of biomass and vegetative cover, depletion of fuelwood supplies, shirking water bodies, lowering of ground water table, reduction of river flows and loss of genetic diversity. There are also cases where it has resulted in scarcity of land and conflict between farmers, livestock herders and pastoralists.
Box 1: Sustainability Issues are Vital for Transforming African Agriculture
Increasing and protecting the productivity of Africa’s agricultural, forestry, fisheries, livestock and other natural resource-based activities are basic to sustainable economic growth in Africa because:
2. Water control and management
Water control and management are key factors in the intensification process and to achieving the NEPAD vision of rapid agricultural growth. Africa has large ground and surface water resources that have yet to be effectively tapped for this purpose. For vast numbers of smallholder and rainfed agricultural economies, water control is one of best mechanisms to enhance productivity and yield and encourage investment in fertilizer, improved seed and good management practices. Evidence suggests that the countries with limited water control and the smallest areas of land under irrigation are also most prone to drought and chronic food insecurity. Hence, NEPAD attaches high priority to expanding land under irrigation and has committed a total of US$37 billion of which US$14.4 billion is to be used for on-farm small-scale irrigation development; US$13.6 billion for expansion of new large-scale irrigation and US$9 billion for rehabilitation of large-scale irrigation schemes.
Experience from many parts of the world has shown that there are serious threats to the sustainability of large-scale irrigation schemes and adequate safeguards and precaution is essential to mitigate some of adverse impacts associated with such a scheme. Some of the major problems associated with large-scale irrigation include: the degradation of irrigated land through salinazation, alkalization, water logging, soil acidification; poor water quality (toxic substance and agrochemical pollution); change in the flow regime of rivers (flood regime) or rise or fall of the water table; sedimentation and change in river morphology that can threaten mangroves; ecological imbalance impacting on flora and fauna, fisheries and wildlife; vector born human diseases (such as malaria, schistosomiasis, elephantiasis), river blindness (onchocerciasis) and animal diseases.
Another major constraint is that many African countries lack a clear water policy and strategies as well as appropriate institutional and regulatory frameworks to improve water management and efficiency. There is also little coordination among riparian countries using the same watercourses. The major African rivers with high potential for large-scale irrigation schemes are transboundary river basins that would require negotiations, coordination and agreement among the riparian countries. Some of the major river basins where irrigation would make significant difference in enhancing food production to upstream countries include the Nile Basin, the Congo, the Niger, the Zambezi, the Orange, the Okavango, the Limpopo, the Volta, and the Senegal. There will be intense competition of water resources among these riparian countries due to an expanding population by both upstream and downstream users. The potential for water conflict has increased in recent years, particularly in the Nile Basin, where some upstream countries such as Ethiopia (largest contributor), Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are demanding the re-examination of treaties signed during the colonial times that have given exclusive use of the Nile to downstream users. Weak regional cooperation for harmonization of water policy and legislation and river basin organization to implement the principles of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) (which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximize economic and social welfare in an equitable manner, without compromising sustainability) among the riparian states are also a threat to fair and more equitable sharing of water.
3. Rural Infrastructure
Of the total amount of US$91 billion earmarked for rural infrastructure close to 70 percent (US$62 billion) is to go for rural roads while the remaining is to be used for crop storage, marketing and processing as well as livestock and fisheries infrastructure. Hence, the development of rural roads (including feeder roads) is the main area that could have some repercussion on the environment and natural resources. However, Africa has the lowest density of paved roads and air pollution and the environmental threats in this case appear to be negligible when compared to the high transport cost and inaccessible markets resulting from poor or non-existent rural and feeder roads. Therefore, caution needs to be taken regarding roads connecting forested areas as experience from the tropics shows that unless carefully managed and monitored, forest roads resulted in extensive and illegal logging that is damaging to the forest ecosystem. Furthermore, Environmental Impact Assessment should be undertaken to look more specifically into key issues such as soil impact (erosion, mass movements, destabilization of slope) water impact (surface and ground water and drainage modification) and impact on flora and fauna (biodiversity, habitat loss both wildlife and aquatic).
4. Forest and Woodland Resources
Forest and woodlands are under threat in many parts of Africa; FAO estimates that 53 million hectares were lost (out of 650 million hectares) between 1990 and 2000. The main causes of deforestation in low income and food deficit countries is fuelwood dependency and agricultural expansion, while in forest endowed countries it is rapid expansion of logging. Fuelwood is a major source of deforestation in the Sahel, in the densely populated east and southern African highlands and the savannah zones of West Africa. Fuelwood extraction is often done in a destructive way affecting regrowth. This accelerated the rate of erosion and landscape degradation, adversely affecting ground water and hydrological regimes, habitat for wildlife and non-forest products such as medicinal plants and biodiversity.
In some of the densely populated rural communities fuelwood scarcity reinforces the food insecurity and poverty spiral. Crop residue, grasses and roots are used as energy sources instead of as livestock feed lowering livestock productivity. Dung, a major source for replenishing soil organic matter is also converted to energy sources. This is a point in case where women have to travel long distances to collect fuelwood, and must shift to lower nutritional food that consumes little energy affecting the health and nutritional status of the rural family.
The threat to forest resources is also due to lack of stumpage fees and weak and inadequate forest institutions and inadequate mechanism to enforce regulations. As a result there is a “free access” to forest resources resulting in its depletion and often beyond its regeneration capacity. This problem is acute in areas close to the major urban centres where charcoal producers and middle men are exploiting this market failure and institutional enforcement mechanisms.
5. Marine Environment and Fisheries
Coastal erosion is becoming a growing problem particularly in countries in West and East Africa as well in the western Indian Ocean countries largely due to lack of adequate planning, protection and provision of infrastructure, deforestation and soil erosion in the hinterland. It has been reported that industrial and agricultural sediments are also beginning to pose serious problems in many areas of Africa especially around large urban and industrial coastal centres and in many countries of Western and Central Africa where commercial plantations are common in the coastal zone.
There are two major categories of fishermen in most African countries. There are those who fish throughout the year, have little or no cattle, are minor agriculturists and live along the major rivers and lakes. There are others comprising agropastoralists who fish only at specific times of the year and use only traditional methods. Both categories of fishermen are confronted by a growing threat to the fish stocks and these trends are unlikely to change unless drastic action is taken. There are a number of reasons for this deteriorating trend. First, the poor state of infrastructure has made accessibility to potential fish production areas and markets difficult. Second, the multipurpose use of water resources (both intended and actual) has often modified the ecosystem and interfered with the maintenance of fish stocks and reduced sustainable yield. For example, the use of poison in river lagoons in many parts of Africa is very destructive to seasonal river fisheries and the rampant use of explosives in the fishing industry has had devastating effects on the fish population as well as on the health of the people. Third, habitat destruction in catchments areas affects fishing grounds, and consequently the fish population and yield. Fourth, loss of fish due to spoilage and insect infestation is quite high in many African countries. The traditional harvesting, preservation and processing methods that are commonly used in most fishing communities are usually inadequate and inefficient. Furthermore, culture and tradition often prevents full use and exploitation of fish in some areas by the local inhabitants. As a result of all these factors the sustainable development of fisheries faces formidable challenges.
Since livestock in smallholder agriculture is part of the mixed farming system, one of the main environmental challenges in the development of the livestock sector is closely linked to overgrazing and shortage of pasture resulting in soil degradation, soil compaction, reduction of biomass and vegetative cover, degradation of watering sources and ecological imbalance. These problems are closely linked to improvement in land and soil productivity and water control (discussed above) and overcoming these constraints would particularly be relevant to investment made in sustainable land management.
Another major threat to livestock development is the tsetse fly (trypanosomiasis) problem that affects 37 countries and over 46 million cattle in sub-Saharan Africa and is a severe constraint to a large number of smallholders who practice and depend on mixed farming. The sub-humid and the wetter parts of the semi-arid zones, areas that hold the greatest potential for agricultural expansion and the highest number of cattle are affected by tsetse fly infection. Tsetse fly infection lowers calving rates, lowers milk yields, causes higher risks of calf mortality and reduces efficiency as work animals. It is estimated that trypanosomiasis reduces the total cattle population by 30 percent to 50 percent and the production of meat by 50 percent. Thus, the tsetse fly problem greatly influences farmers’ decisions on where to live, farm and graze their cattle. It also has implications on resource use and investment in natural resources such as planting of trees, herbaceous legumes, crops, construction and maintenance of conservation structures.
The most devastating impact is on the integration of the crop-livestock production system which has the high potential to enhance both crop and livestock productivity and food security. Trypanosomiasis reduces the oxen efficiency, reduces the number of oxen the farming household would like to keep, excludes livestock breeds (such as oxen and horses) that are well suited for traction and discourages migration to frontier areas that have good agricultural potential.
Agrobiodiversity, which comprises the biological resources that sustain agriculture and crop varieties, medicinal and other useful plants and farm animals, is associated with indigenous knowledge related to these resources. These biological resources are rich and varied and have direct significance in the effort to improve food security, nutrition, healthcare and livelihood. The conservation of agrobiodiversity resources and indigenous knowledge has often suffered as a result of habitat loss, overharvesting of important species and the spread of alien species. Loss of indigenous knowledge and inadequate protection of “farmer’s right” over the indigenous knowledge, genetic resources, gene banks and improved germplasm is a problem throughout the continent. Legal and illegal overharvesting of rare and endangered medicinal plant and animal species is also leading to the erosion of genetic diversity in many countries.
The Millennium Project Hunger Task Force on Hunger, commissioned by the UN Secretary-General, in its recent publication (2004), underscored the key role of enhancing soil fertility and expanding water harvesting and small-scale irrigation schemes to raise the productivity and reduce vulnerability of the vast number of smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa. This is also consistent with NEPAD’s vision for agriculture. There is wide recognition (including the Millennium Task Force) that for intensification to be sustainable and for external inputs to be effective, soil organic matter (central in retaining mineral fertilizer and improve water holding and rooting capacity) needs to be improved through the use of animal manure, green manure, cover crops, low cost conservation methods (such as minimum tillage), Nitrogen fixing trees (where nitrogen rich leaves and branches are mixed into the soil prior to planting) and biomass transfer of leaves to crop fields. Given the high cost of fertilizer in Africa, combining inorganic (mineral) and organic (green manure/animal manure/agro forestry) fertilizer is a more cost-effective way and agronomically the most appropriate means for replenishing depleted soils in sub-Saharan Africa. Many farming communities are practising the better land ahusbandry approach that embraces locally appropriate options for the build-up of soil organic matter, cost effective combination of organic and inorganic fertilizer, better crop and rainwater management and improvement of soil rooting depth. The opportunities from better land husbandry to enhance both production and environmental benefits are being realized by many smallholders in several southern African countries.
Water control and small-scale irrigation provide the greatest opportunities to increase yields, to harvest year-round a wide variety of crops (including high value crops) and are highly valued among farmers and women as they are often responsible for the collection of water. Studies by FAO and the World Bank have demonstrated that small-scale irrigation has contributed to increase crop and fodder yields, establish home gardens, tree nurseries and dry-season livestock watering and thereby improving crop and livestock productivity and income. Another opportunity for water sector is the implementation of IWRM among many African countries particularly in improving the efficiency of irrigation and water in irrigated agriculture. On average, only 40 percent of water withdrawn from rivers, lakes and aquifers has an actual impact on crop production. The remaining 60 percent is lost in a variety of ways, which can be avoided or reused. Technologies exist to make this possible and an FAO analysis of 93 developing countries indicates that efficiency in use of irrigation water in the next 30 years will increase from 38 percent to approximately 42 percent.
The opportunities to enhance the contribution of the forestry, fisheries and livestock sectors to attain NEPAD’s vision for agriculture are mentioned in their respective programmes. However, an important area that should be highlighted is renewable energy since it shows promising opportunity to bring positive synergy in some of NEPAD’s key investment programmes particularly in agriculture, forestry, health and infrastructure. Mobilizing the potential of renewable energy requires policies related to sustainable energy development, to agriculture’s role as an energy producer and to the full integration of energy services into rural development plans and programmes. Renewable energy can be an engine to promoting broad-based agriculture and rural development as well as reducing hurdles related to health, education and infrastructure and deforestation and severe fuelwood crisis problems facing Africa. The potential of more environmental friendly modern and technologically upgraded applications of biomass, such as its conversion to liquid fuels (ethanol), gaseous fuels (biogas-methane) or other energy carriers such as hydroelectricity is high and needs to be systematically considered and exploited. Solar and wind energies are slowly finding their way into rural Africa owing to their effectiveness as decentralized systems for both household and productive uses.
Capacity building and institutional strengthening (at regional, national and local levels) are fundamental challenges in the realization of the agricultural action plan and natural resources management of forestry, fisheries and livestock development. NEPAD’s Action Plan for the Environment Initiative that was prepared under the leadership of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) with the support of UNEP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), underscores the urgent need to overcome the human resources and institutional constraints in order to address the environmental and natural resources management issues in the CAADP (including forestry. fishery and livestock programmes) and the programmatic clusters of the Environment Action Plan as well. The programme areas of the Environment Action Plan include combating land degradation, drought and desertification, conserving Africa’s wetlands, management of invasive alien species; conservation and sustainable use of marine, coastal and fresh water resources; combating climate change and cross-border conservation and management of natural resources.
The Environmental Action Plan also emphasizes the need for partnerships to implement “A Strategic Plan to Build Africa’s Capacity to Implement Global and Regional Environmental Conventions (SPBC)” as an integral part of the Action Plan. This convention offers international partnership and legal framework to address the capacity building, institutional and legal constraints at the country level. For example, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which has top environmental priorities for African countries, supports countries to implement their National Action Plan (NAP) and Regional Action Plan (RAP) and Sub-Regional Action Plan (SARP) to combat desertification while improving food security and livelihood. Most African countries have prepared NAPs, and NEPAD’s Environmental Action Plan for land degradation, desertification and drought is based on RAP and SRAPs of the UNCCD for Africa. The recently launched Thematic Programme Networks (under RAP of the UNCCD) would link regional, sub-regional and national focal institutions in specific thematic areas such as integrated management of international river, lake and geological basin, promotion of agroforestry and soil conservation, rational use of rangelands and promoting of sustainable agricultural farming system offering opportunities (provided funding is made available) to strengthen human and institutional capacities through south-south cooperation and other partners.
A significant development in the area of global convention is the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture – a new, binding international instrument, was adopted by the FAO Conference on 3 November 2001 and will enter into force on 29 June 2004. This treaty will respond to the challenge of the increasing loss of agrobiodiversity discussed above, which could have significant impact on world food supply. This international treaty provides an opportunity for exchange that would benefit everyone, while recognizing that farmers have made an enormous contribution to the conservation and development of genetic resources and have the right to participate in equitable benefit-sharing.
Addressing many of the environmental sustainability challenges in the CAADP and forestry, fisheries, and livestock development programmes discussed above would require the active participation of various stakeholders. One of the constraints facing many African countries has been the lack of participation and community organization that would translate policies and programmes enunciated at federal/national levels into actions at community level, particularly in the areas of land, forest, wildlife and biodiversity management. Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992, major effort has been taken by governments, international and bilateral agencies to bring the active participation of civil society organizations (CSO) in the development process. The global commitment made at UNCED has created opportunities for funding and institutional support and as a result many local NGOs and CSOs have emerged in Africa in the last decade and community-based organizations are playing a much greater role in the empowerment of local people as a stakeholder and in providing greater incentive to manage and utilize their natural resources in a sustainable way. There is also progress in some parts of Africa where local organizations (including women’s organizations) are trying to change the traditional role of women, which puts gender specific constraints in wood fuel and water collection, post-harvest activities and livestock management. Addressing these gender specific constraints would contribute to attaining NEPAD’s vision on accelerating agricultural production and environmental sustainability since reducing the pressure on rural women from these highly demanding tasks could lower the demand for large families and the pressure on natural resources.
There is a more proactive and supportive role among international development agencies and the international community to address environmental issues in the past decades. The World Bank, for example, has enacted environmental safeguard policies that would identify, prevent and minimize potential harmful impacts on the environment and people in the development process. These safeguard policies include natural habitats, forests, pest management, safety dams, international waters, cultural property, indigenous people and environmental assessment. The safeguards are also a mechanism in ensuring the participation of relevant stakeholders in the design and implementation of projects and are also relevant to address some of the environmental constraints facing the CAADP and forestry, fisheries and livestock programmes discussed above.
The need for continuous monitoring and assessment of the integration of environmental issues at all levels cannot be overemphasized. Institutional capacity for information flow, monitoring and policy analysis has to be developed if governments are to be effective in their regulatory and facilitating role. Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) provide useful tools that can be used at the policy and strategy level to capture the environmental benefits and to avoid harmful consequences. The process of conducting SEAs will help to develop indicators that can show the impacts of the incorporation of the sustainability considerations into the CAADP. It will also permit changes to be made so as to increase the chances of success of the integration process and to respond to changing conditions.
One of key principles in the implementation of the CAADP and forestry, fisheries and livestock programmes is commitment at all levels to address the environmental constraints discussed above. It is also important that commitment to sustainability activities should be consistent with Africa’s institutional, technical, and financial capacities. For example, as noted in some countries, the target set (partly in anticipation of donor assistance) in land and water conservation and afforestation, irrigation, rural roads, etc. has not been achieved. Preference should be given to projects for which countries are willing to commit their own funds, so as to reinforce a sense of African ownership. Efforts should be made to integrate sustainability considerations into the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) that form the basis for investment planning in most African countries since PRSP is now seen as the cornerstone in lending for any development projects and ensuring ownership.
Finally, NEPADs vision for rapid and sustainable agricultural growth will largely depend on balancing the trade-offs between short-term and long-term benefits. In this respect, another crucial consideration is that any development process should use Africa’s sustainable land, water, forest, fisheries, livestock, energy and biodiversity resources to pull it out from the current dismal poverty, while mitigating the threat to the natural resources base upon which long-term economic development depends.
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