Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Poverty and Sustainability in Zambia (MDG's 1&7)

Sometimes anti-pov and eco activists forget how much the two issues are intertwined. This latest piece from the Micah Challenge in Zambia shows how Millennium Development Goal #1 (Eradicate extreme hunger & poverty) is connected deeply with MDG #7 (Ensure environmental sustainability).
Press Statement on the ZESCO Power cuts.
Posted: 29 Jan 2008 07:06 AM CST

Micah Challenge Zambia is concerned with the pressure we seem to be exerting on the environment due to the power crisis that our nation has been going through for last several months and recently made worse by the extended power cuts. The extended power cuts are reversing the gains we have been making in the fight against poverty.

Our nation is endowed with a wealth of natural resources within 16 ecosystems with landscapes that range from extensive forests to wetlands. This rich natural resource is under threat if we cannot control the wanton destruction of forests due to charcoal burning. Sadly, Zambia faces daunting challenges of de-forestation at the rate of 250-300 thousand ha per year. The destruction of our forests will lead to reduced biodiversity.

Due to the current power blackouts being experienced in our nation, the search for alternative sources of fuel will lead to unsustainable charcoal production and increased demand for fuel-wood. As more households demand for charcoal as an alternative source of energy our forests will be face further destructions. This will make it difficult for Zambia to attain Millennium Development Goal number 7, where we have committed ourselves to ensure environmental sustainability. . In the year 2000, the government of Zambia and 188 other nations made a promise to halve poverty by 2015 through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Many of the goals are in danger of not being met in Zambia. As a coalition of Christians committed to standing up for justice, we remind the Zambian government to keep the promises they made. Conserving natural resources will certainly contribute to the reduction of poverty in our country.

Unsustainable destruction of our forests will certainly contribute to climate change. This climate change which is human induced impacts negatively mostly on ecosystems. As a nation as we operate within the United Nations Framework on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol we need to curb practices which will ultimately accelerate the process of climate change. Failure to control change factors that accelerate climate change will lead to widespread loss of productivity, erosion, reduction in stream flow and other negative impacts. Today we are threatened by destructive floods due to climate change.

Micah Challenge Zambia calls on the Zambian Government to quickly resolve the problem being faced by ZESCO to meet the ever rising electricity demand. Micah Challenge Zambia urges government leaders to re-focus their efforts, especially to ensure the following goals are met: With the extensive power cuts or load shedding in place most households regardless of their economic status are depending on charcoal. The rising demand for charcoal is not good for this nation as it has negative effect on environmental sustainability.

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