Why should the world care about the environment in places like Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Rwanda?

CARING ABOUT OUR GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT

Global warming is a threat to the entire human and animal population on earth and wherever there is an environmental degradation of soil and water such as in Mozambique, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe, there exists more potential for Global Warming. Many other environmental hazards such as war, economic instability, a depletion of fresh water, endangered species, poverty, more disease, and air/water pollution also result from the types of land and water misuse that have happened in these African countries.

In Mozambique, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe there has been a lot of war and strife, thus upsetting the natural order of the environment with poaching for elephant tusks, mismanagement of land use, improper irrigation practices, and deforestation. Due to the incorrect land use desertification takes place.

Desertification is the transformation of habitable land into desert by climatic change, improper land use, over cultivation, deforestation, poor irrigation practices, overgrazing, drought, burning of extensive areas, overpopulation, too much herding, overstocking or removal of protective vegetation, clearcutting and exposure to direct sunlight,

When desertification takes place “soil loses nutrient value and erodes because there is no cycling of dead leaves/plant material or roots to hold on to the soil;” and “rainfall causes soil to wash away leading to infertility of the land.” (http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/glossary).

Mozambique, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe are examples of these types of land degradation that are going on in many other parts of the world. We as a people should be concerned because we need pure water to drink, we need good food, we need air to breathe, we need to fight cancer and other dangerous diseases, and we need a good quality of life free from economic stresses.

WHY SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT THESE THINGS?

Why should we be concerned about water, for instance? Neither we nor our planet will continue to exist without water. Water sustains all life. It sustains animal, plant, and human life. When we don’t care about what we do to the land we destroy our drinking water. Less drinking water in one place means less drinking water in another place.

What about food? When we don’t care about what is done to the land we allow natural plant species to be killed off and suffocated, never again to reproduce. Plants and specialized plants are important to our survival. Plants growing in the wild are unique and important due to the natural resistance they can build up against predators and pests.

Today many plants and seeds are genetically altered to produce higher yield, resistance to climate, predators, etc. but with genetic alteration comes weaker plants that only survive a generation or two. And the only place to find new plants is in the wild untamed areas of the world where unique species evolve along with their natural resistance to predators.

What about War? How can the destruction of land and habitats create war? People need food and water. These are very basic needs. When their source of food and water is depleted they will look for other places that offer food and water. This can be the beginning of a war with people fighting for the right to use land.

Why is war in another place a concern for us? If wars become too destructive we get involved and send our soldiers to help fight the war. Thus we lose some of our best citizens to war.

What does destructive land use have to do with the economy? The economy is based on how well a country utilizes its resources. If land is destroyed there may be no resources to use or to trade with. The country becomes dependent on other countries for subsistence. If the country is dependent on other countries, we are also involved. Today when our economy suffers so do other economies and vice versa. We are a global economic system. It is important for countries to become economically independent so that their fit into the global economic system is good. They can not do this if they are impoverished because they have destroyed their land.

What about disease? How does improper land use contribute to disease? There are many ways. Water can become stagnant and become a breeding ground for the malarial mosquito.

Water can become so polluted that it carries dangerous disease germs and people die from drinking contaminated water.

Over 2000 anti-cancer species have been found in the rainforests. Allowing deforestation, clear cutting, and burning may destroy these species forever. All people the world over are looking for a supreme cancer cure. Perhaps there may even be a cure for AIDS in the wild, untouched areas of the world. But if these areas are continually destroyed by mismanaged land use, we may never find a cure.

Poverty results in many environmental misuses. Land is deforested and picked dry. In turn, when the land is deforested and picked dry, there is more poverty. Once there is no land for growing food or harvesting wild food, people starve. So desertification and poverty form a vicious circle of more and more poverty and more and more desertification.

Poverty everywhere affects us. It diminishes the world economy. It is the beginning of war and cruel dictatorships. War and dictatorships produce unrest throughout our world.

LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT MOZAMBIQUE

Mozambique’s natural hazards are droughts, cyclones, and floods in the central and southern provinces. Natural hazards such as these can put greater pressure on the stability of the land and in themselves contribute to desertification and erosion. And indeed, their civil war and drought has resulted in desertification, surface and coastal water pollution, and elephant poaching for ivory.

Mozambique has made great strides since its independence from Portugal in 1975, when it was then one of the world’s poorest countries. However, Mozambique is today still dependent on foreign assistance and most citizens are below the poverty level. There is a substantial trade imbalance and the unemployment rate is 21%.

ZIMBABWE

Zimbabwe’s natural hazard is droughts. Land use is characterized by deforestation, soil erosion, land degradation, water pollution, and poor mining practices. The poaching of the Black Rhinoceros is an environmental activity that has depleted the Black Rhino almost to extinction in this area, which once had the highest concentration of Black Rhino.

The Economy is characterized by an unsustainable fiscal deficit, overvalued official exchange rate, hyperinflation, and bare store shelves. The inflation rate is 6000% in 2007 due to the Central Bank printing money to fund the deficit. The official exchange rate fell from approximately one Zimbabwean dollar per U. S. dollar in 2003 to more than 17,500 per U. S. dollar in 2007.

RWANDA

Rwanda experienced bitter civil war between 1990 and 1994 with the mass genocide of 800,000 Tutsies and 2 million Hutu fleeing to neighboring countries. There is still unrest with insurgents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo determined to take back Rwanda.

Their natural hazards are droughts and the volcanic Viringa Mountains. Their environmental issues are deforestation, overgrazing, soil exhaustion, soil erosion, and poaching.

Rwanda is a poor rural country with 90% of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture. The 1994 genocide contributed to the economic instability in this area. Food production and population growth is not equal and Rwanda receives aid from the IMF – World Bank. Economic growth is hampered by energy shortages, inadequate transportation to other countries, and the instability of neighboring states.

CARING FOR OUR GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT SHOULD BE ACTIVE

How do we actively care for our global environment? There are many things we can do as citizens of the world to care for the people in Mozambique, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe; and in many other parts of the world.

We can stop the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming by driving environmentally friendly cars and recycling our waste products. In turn the countries with densely populated forests need to engage in the reforestation of depleted forests to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that enters the air causing global warming. We can help them do this by becoming actively involved.

Global warming causes climate change which upsets the natural order of weather conditions and causes agricultural communities a loss of their livelihood. According to Jan Egeland, Norwegian Peace Mediator, climate change is more than an environmental issue — it is a question of “War and Peace.”

We can actively get involved with communities around the world and in our own backyard by volunteering, donating, and becoming members of the various organizations set up to alleviate intolerable environmental conditions. We can start our own organizations. We can do research and write books or articles to educate the general public about environmental pollution. We can actually go to some of these places to help in setting up sustainable agriculture and economic initiatives.

Reporters, Stephanie Haines and Jeff Barbee have been instrumental in helping to get environmental actions started in Mozambique, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe by writing their articles that have been published in various magazines, newsletters, and online. This is caring in an active way. We should all be doing our part to care for our global environment.

In Zimbabwe their focus is Victoria Falls in Hwange National Park which was once a prime conservation and tourist spot. In Mozambique it is Gorongoso National Park, which the Carr Foundation has now pledged $1.2 million per year to be used for reconstruction, rehabilitation, of upgrading of park facilities. The park was destroyed during the 16 year civil war.

The references listed below can also be used to find your way in contributing to your concern for the environment. You can volunteer, join, donate, or find a new career.

References:
Institute for War and Peace
Environmental Africa
CIA factsheet — Mozambique
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
The Nature Conservancy
Gore, Al, Earth in the Balance, Houghton Mifflin Company, NY, NY, 1992.

Copyright © 2020 Carroll Colette J. Yorgey