Sustainable development in Africa can be achieved only where appropriate
policies, strategies, and priorities in research and development are carefully
chosen and adhered to with the continuous commitment and allocation of resources
and the creation of an enabling environment by governments. The elements of
necessary ingredients for such sustainable development are briefly summarized
The adoption of a holistic or systems approach in planning, policies, and
Sustainable development applies to the conservation, management, and rational
utilization of natural resources in such a way as to maintain the integrity of
each ecosystem, support all life, ensure no loss in biodiversity, and prevent
environmental degradation. This calls for compatibility in sectoral development
programmes in such a way that activities in any one sector do not have adverse
environmental impacts, which would make it difficult to achieve the desired
sustainable management of resources in any other sector now and in the future.
For this to be successful it must involve the interaction of relevant
disciplines in the planning and policy formulation stages, and in all stages of
research and development (R&D) activities at local, national, regional, and
Conservation and development
There is need in all countries to adopt an environmental perspective in the
management of natural resources in development programmes so as to ensure that
conservation goes hand in hand with development in order to enhance
sustainability. Conservation is defined as "the rational use of the earth's
resources to achieve the highest quality of living for mankind" (UNESCO/FAO
1968), with the additional qualification that the quality of life also should
apply to humans and to other organisms since this is the way to ensure
conservation of biodiversity. When environmental quality is good for the
survival of humans and other organisms then it is obvious that the environment
is being given the due consideration it deserves in development if the earth is
to function largely as a self-regulating planet.
Sustainable development calls for the adoption of a holistic and integrated
approach in natural resource management. Opportunities for this exist in the
The adoption of an integrated land-use plan in which integrated watersheds as
units for planning and development are a component entails the development of a
master plan that provides for all the competing multiple land-use options,
ranging from land for wildlife reserves and forest plantations to land for
mining and human settlement, at least at national and regional levels.
Traditional and modern systems and technology
The integration of traditional, modern, and emerging resource management
systems and technologies is one way of ensuring the relevance of technologies to
the farmer's needs and circumstances, thereby facilitating rapid and widespread
adoption. It involves the integration of desirable compatible elements of the
different technologies in order to achieve sustainability. This approach also
ensures that systems of production and their component technologies are
ecologically sound, economically viable, and culturally acceptable.
Cropping systems and animal production systems
The integration of production systems involving, for example, the integration
of arable (field) crop production with agro-forestry species in hedgerows and
sometimes also with livestock into agrisilvopastoral systems can achieve a wider
spectrum of objectives than can any of the systems alone.
Pest and disease management systems
Reliance on environment-polluting pesticides and chemical control in pest
management can be minimized by mixing different strategies that interact
synergistically to produce the desired effects. The combination of compatible
chemical, biological, physical, and/or cultural methods in the control of pests
and diseases aims to reduce reliance on any one method that, when used alone,
may have adverse environmental effects - e.g. using a resistant variety and a
few sprays of dilute chemical pesticide, instead of high concentrations and
several sprays of more pesticides, which causes environmental pollution.
Species of crops and/or animals
Growing different species of crops or using different species of animals can
ensure higher and more stable yields over time than growing only one commodity.
Alternative energy systems
It is necessary to develop alternative energy systems because reliance on
fuelwood as the main energy source will not only lead to depletion of fuelwood
resources and deforestation but also cause erosion and desertification.
Monitoring of resources and environment
For sustainable development to succeed, there must be monitoring of the
status of various natural resources and analyses of the data in order to predict
the likely consequences of environmental change in the future. Related to this
is the inventorying of natural resources so as to determine changes in
biodiversity causes and remedial measures.
Regulatory and guidance measures
Monitoring provides the basis for legislation and enforcement measures for
protecting the environment. The results can also be used to guide actions to be
taken or to enforce related laws and regulations.
Education, training, and orientation priorities
The existing educational curriculum needs to be modified so as to facilitate
the provision of environmental education at different levels and the provision
of training in environmental monitoring and assessment, in addition to
orientation of the public so as to enhance popular participation in sustainable
development projects. Any effort aimed at combating the development of
inappropriate attitudes or standards as a result of the influence of the media
can best be achieved through the educational system, formally or informally.
The above strategies are by no means exhaustive. It would be necessary to
take appropriate measures to see that there are in place policies, strategies,
technologies, systems, and other actions that are needed for combating or
eliminating any of the constraints identified