News / Africa

'Future Earth' Discusses Sustainable Development Challenges for Africa

Anita Powell
— Scientists and lawmakers meeting in Cape Town discuss ways of promoting sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa.  But as I learned first-hand, the challenges are many. 

I attempted to interview an expert ahead of the Future Earth conference about ways of boosting sustainable development in Africa.

As if to illustrate the point, though, the electricity in my Johannesburg home went out as I was about to make the late-night call - plunging my entire neighborhood into darkness and knocking out my equipment.

When we finally caught up the next day, Tanya Abrahamse said electrical power is one of the challenges the panel is discussing as they meet this week in Cape Town. Abrahamse is CEO of the South African National Biodiversity Institute.

Energy is a major issue, she says, given the rise of African megacities - like Lagos in Nigeria - and the fact that not every nation has the same resources or needs.

Future Earth is an international 10-year initiative that brings together scientists, academics and policymakers to research sustainable solutions that will address the challenges of development and environmental change.

It sounds complicated, and this week’s meeting is just one step in what will be a long process, but Abrahamse says it boils down to some very basic needs.

“So for example, we’ve identified water, and all the elements around water: water management, water quality, water quantity, water analysis, understanding groundwater, understanding water under the ground, understanding rainfall patterns, water flow, degradation of waterways, use of water for energy, etcetera, etcetera," she said.

Water is serious business in Africa and can have major effects on societies.  A drought last year killed tens of thousands of people in Somalia and other East African nations.  Nine African nations have spent more than a decade negotiating over rights to the Nile River.  And Africa experts have long warned of the potential of major conflict over water on the continent.

Abrahamse stresses that this meeting in Cape Town is only one step, and one that takes into account complicated factors in the fields of social and natural science.

But the end goal is one that is easy to understand.  It’s a higher quality of life for Africans, a future with sustainable solutions on food, water, health - and yes, energy - for all.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid