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Managing The African Environment

In the context of this very writing, environment would be defined in the sense of both the biotic and abiotic. It is the entire conglomeration of the natural habitat—the surroundings, influences and conditions wherein human beings live and interact. That is, the biophysical and social milieu especially within which men and women exercise their existences.

As Africa struggles to compete with the rest of the world in socio-economic, political, techno-scientific and infrastructural development, one then ask a vital but challenging question: how much do African decision-makers care about the African environment? This question is so important especially in this 21st century BC. It is a time when the world is seen differently from what it used to be in the past centuries. Study had shown that there is a crucial co-relationship between a healthy environment and a healthy people. In certain parts of the world, the talk on the well being of the sociological and biological environments had not only found loud expressions in politics but also through the activism of private and corporate citizens.

We have seen in many places in Africa how certain careless human activities are resulting in serious bio-environmental threats and hazards. Many wild animals are about to extinct or had already extinct due to illegal gaming, population expansion, the destruction of forests, and through a casual pollution of the atmosphere. Worst of all, some of these animals are killed in the bid to use certain part of their bodies to make juju (amulets). Human awareness of the universe is taking a different direction in our modern world. In the civilized nations of the world, shooting certain birds or other animals is illegal and might land one to jail. To be a hunter, one has to be registered by the government. In so doing, there is a constant checkmate on the greedy excesses of humans to the environment. Whatever nature had made is for certain purpose. The disappearance of certain specie of animals or trees for instance could have a terrible impact on human lives.

The culture of environmental consciousness is yet to sink in the African mind. If gorillas are threatened in the eastern part of Africa, it is CNN’s Anderson Cooper (AC360) who had to report the case and conscientize the world about it.  Why do we as African remain so adamant with regards to saving our own environment?  Do people even realize the need for urgent environmental protection? Even if they do, are they willing to commit to the duty? The African biological life is rich and diverse but lack of proper management is putting stains on it.

This careless disposition towards the biological environment is also extended to the social environment. Our social environments are more and more becoming unhealthy for human habitation. There is a high level of migration from the rural area to the city in search of green pastures. This has created a sort of urban congestion which does not have the required environmental management by African governments. Thus, major cities look disorganized, unworthy, disoriented, unkempt, dirty, chaotic and littered with garbage wastes. Government bureaucrats are often too inactive to regulate waste disposals. Both the adults and the underage children fill every city and its streets hawking and littering everywhere with pieces of papers and leather bags—the sight of which creates a sense socio-environmental disorder. Both the macro and micro industrial manufacturers are not properly supervised to determine their level of pollutions and the subsequent health impacts it imposes on the lives of the citizens.

Again, corruption and unaccountably often lead to lack of urban infrastructural plans. Houses look disarray, unplanned, disastrous and unattractive. Therefore the beauty of city and its street plans are lost. Few years ago when Nigeria was restoring the original plan of its capital, Abuja, there was a loud outcry from the masses. They wanted to maintain the old order of living in shards, dirtiness and congestion.  Majority of the houses were illegally built without the proper certification from the authorities. Thanks to the vision of the former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir Ahmad El’ Rufai for restoring sanity, orderliness and beauty in Abuja.  If those before him had done what they were supposed to do at the unset, lots of people would not have been displaced on the first place in trying to rebuild the city to an international standard.

Urban congestion is another form of environmental disaster facing Africa. How does one handle millions of city inhabitants with little or no sense of both individual and public hygienic responsibilities? People live overcrowded in apartments with no constant electricity, no supply of water, no hygienic bathroom or toilet amenities, no medical facilities and yet with below-the-poverty-line of income. These unmanaged congestion breed all kinds of heinous crimes, uncontrolled outbreak of pathogenic organism that make people ill, violence, vandalism, hooliganism and other forms of social vices. Where the level of security is poor and social infrastructures such as roads, houses, bridges are also poorly maintained, the human population could be a nightmare. So, rural development could be an important key to restoring the beauty of cities in Africa.

A healthy social environment impacts the way people behave. If one grew up in a disorganized and disoriented social environment, one would be disorganized, disoriented and immature. In the more advanced societies, leaving rubbishes disposed on streets and corners is illegal; they do not dump wastes in rivers and lakes. Everyone has a sense of socio-environmental maturity and responsibility. They care about their health and happiness and also how their countries look.

Let us try to keep African cities, streets and towns beautiful, safe, clean and healthy. We should also learn to protect our biological habitat with its numerous creatures.  All these are necessary because when humans tamper with the course of natural function with regards to sociological and ecological environments, it would surely fired back with bizarre negative consequences. Our environment also tells much about us.

 CSN: 25511-2008-18-06

Ugwu Hilary Ike

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