Environmental Effects on Sub Saharan Africa

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The countries that comprise sub-Saharan Africa rely more on their natural resource base for economic and social needs than any other region in the world. Two out of three of sub-Saharan Africa's people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and other natural resources for income. However, the environmental resource base of the region is shrinking rapidly. Environmental problems of sub-Saharan Africa include air and water pollution, deforestation, loss of soil and soil fertility, and a dramatic decline in biodiversity throughout the region. Although Africa's various environmental problems are increasingly severe, most countries are so crippled by poverty that few resources are available for managing the environment. Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the world's fastest growing populations (approximately 2.2% a year), and is expected to be home to over a billion people by 2025. In recent years, population growth rates have declined from 2.4% in 1997 to an expected rate of less than 2% by 2006. More effective economic policies in many sub-Saharan African countries since the mid-1990s have led to improved economic development and performance. During 1995-98, real GDP growth averaged 4.25% a year, an increase from less than 1.5% a year during 1990-94. Real GDP growth has stagnated more recently, however, at about 3.0% for the past two years. Inadequate levels of investment of both physical and human capital persist, as exceptionally high levels of risk and uncertainty remain at the core of Africa's lack of competitiveness. Establishing a positive investment climate in Africa is increasingly important as the HIV/AIDS epidemic is poised to undermine economic growth for the next 15 years. Oil pollution is an important and controversial subject of discussion in sub-Saharan Africa. In countries such as Nigeria and Angola, where the principal source of revenue is oil, debate on the impacts of oil exploration and development on the environment and the health of the...
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