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UN Report on Africa

2002-8-15

A report by the United Nations Environment Program says Africafaces severe environmental problems unless urgent action is taken.It says Africa faces increases in air and water pollution, landdestruction, water shortages and wildlife losses.

The report involved hundreds of experts. The U-N EnvironmentProgram says it is the most complete study of Africa's environmentever produced.

During the past thirty years, many things have harmed Africa'senvironment. They include growing populations, wars, rising nationaldebt, natural disasters and disease. Experts say there will be manynew threats during the next thirty years. They include climatechange, the spread of non-native plants and animals, uncontrolledexpansion of cities and pollution from cars and industry.

Africa's people and economies depend on agriculture. Records showthat yearly rainfall has been decreasing since nineteen-sixty-eight.Experts say this may be a result of the warming climate caused byman-made carbon-dioxide gas in the atmosphere. They say Africa couldsuffer greatly from the effects of global warming because of itsdependence on agriculture.

Experts also say natural disasters in Africa have become morecommon and more severe. A lack of rain in some areas and floods inother areas are harming the land and have led to the displacement ofpeople and wildlife.

Air pollution from industries and from old cars is anotherserious problem. The continent's wildlife is threatened by thedestruction of forests, hunting, the presence of non-native species,and a lack of enforcement of protection laws.

Many African countries are beginning to deal with some of theseenvironmental problems. But experts say more efforts are needed byAfrican countries and other countries. They say more could be doneto reduce Africa's debt, increase aid and help give localcommunities more power. They say countries need to help enforceenvironmental agreements, produce clean technologies and openinternational markets to African goods and services.

The head of the U-N Environmental Program says the report will beimportant for nations meeting at the World Summit on SustainableDevelopment. That meeting opens at the end of this month inJohannesburg, South Africa.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written byCynthia Kirk.