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ENVIRONMENT REPORT - August 16, 2002: UN Report on Africa - 2002-08-15

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This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

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

The report involved hundreds of experts. The U-N Environment Program says it is the most complete study of Africa’s environment ever produced.

During the past thirty years, many things have harmed Africa’s environment. They include growing populations, wars, rising national debt, natural disasters and disease. Experts say there will be many new threats during the next thirty years. They include climate change, the spread of non-native plants and animals, uncontrolled expansion of cities and pollution from cars and industry.

Africa’s people and economies depend on agriculture. Records show that yearly rainfall has been decreasing since nineteen-sixty-eight. Experts say this may be a result of the warming climate caused by man-made carbon-dioxide gas in the atmosphere. They say Africa could suffer greatly from the effects of global warming because of its dependence on agriculture.

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

Air pollution from industries and from old cars is another serious problem. The continent’s wildlife is threatened by the destruction 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 these environmental problems. But experts say more efforts are needed by African countries and other countries. They say more could be done to reduce Africa’s debt, increase aid and help give local communities more power. They say countries need to help enforce environmental agreements, produce clean technologies and open international markets to African goods and services.

The head of the U-N Environmental Program says the report will be important for nations meeting at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. That meeting opens at the end of this month in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.

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