Category: Policy Work

Regulatory impact assessment of trees in the United Kingdom: benefits of non-defensive action by Local Authorities against potential litigation against tree failure (2009)

SUMMARY STATEMENT
Trees are a vital component of both urban and rural landscapes and their benefits are immensely valued by citizens of the United Kingdom. Tree risk management aims to look after these assets in such a way that their benefits are maintained and enhanced. In doing this, tree management aims to manage the level of risk so that people are not exposed to unacceptable risks of death or serious injury.

FULL STATEMENT
Introduction
The National Tree Safety Group (NTSG), a grouping of national agencies involved in the management of trees, has produced Managing Risk from Trees to support the work of those involved in tree management of any kind – for example trees in streets trees, parks, public open spaces, businesses such as hotels or farms and private gardens of different sizes. The range of membership interests spans professional bodies such as the Arboricultural Association, Institute of Chartered Foresters, London Tree Officers Association, and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, tree owners / managers including Forestry Commission, Country Land and Business Association, National Farmers Union, National Trust, and the Woodland Trust, and organisations with heritage / conservation interests such as Ancient Tree Forum and English Heritage. Its membership is open to all interested stakeholder organisations and groups.

The statement has relevance to all settings and environments in which trees occur. It will also be of interest to those involved in insurance and litigation in relation to tree management. It focuses on deaths and physical injuries resulting from accidents. However, the overall approach, namely that a balance should be struck between risks and benefits, is also relevant to agencies concerned with other issues such as visitor safety and cultural and environmental values. The statement includes the summary above and the following full statement. The summary aims to state the key points of the full statement in a more accessible form, for a non-technical audience.

Context
Concern about how safety is being managed and doubts about the exact responsibilities of owners and managers, especially in the immediate aftermath of landmark legal cases concerned with tree-failure related injury or death, whether arising from criminal and civil courts, may lead to reactive (defensive) behaviour, unnecessary expenditure and loss of mature trees. This ignores dependable evidence that deaths and injuries caused by falling trees (or parts of trees) are rare. Despite the fact that millions of trees grace our landscape and that nearly everybody passes under a tree more than once a day, there are only about six deaths a year. In order to address this situation, and in response to industry and landowner consultation that has demonstrated a desire to acknowledge the concerns of both professionals and the public, the National Tee Safety Group has prepared this statement

Managing Risk from Trees:
National Tree Safety Group statement
In any human activity, there is an element of risk. Three factors are central to determining whether or not the level of risk is acceptable or tolerable:
• the likelihood of coming to harm
• the severity of that harm
• the benefits, rewards or outcomes of the activity.

Judgements about the acceptability of risk are made on the basis of a risk assessment. Risk assessment and management are not mechanistic processes. They crucially involve making judgements about acceptability based on an understanding of the balance between risks and benefits. Even where there is a risk of fatal or permanent disabling injury, this risk may sometimes be tolerable. For instance, going walking in an ancient forest involves an unavoidable risk of fatal injury, but this risk is tolerable for most people because in most circumstances the likelihood of coming to harm is very low and there are obvious benefits. Social and psychological factors are also important in risk assessment. Risks that are acceptable in one community may be unacceptable in another, and policies should take this into account.

Almost any environment contains hazards or sources of harm. In many cases, the existence of hazards can be justified, perhaps because they are impossible to remove or perhaps because their removal would have undesirable consequences or be too costly. Where the existence of a hazard can be justified, measures should be in place to manage it. In a controlled environment such as a workplace or a park, those responsible are required by law to identify and make informed judgements about, the hazards to which people are exposed. They must take steps to ensure that the risks are managed and controlled so far as is reasonably practicable while allowing the potential benefits to be delivered.

Trees and Risk
It is difficult to conceive of a countryside or town without trees, at least of one that people would want to live in and, in reality, such a world would not support human life. This is because trees are fundamental to our continued existence, to our well-being and the quality of our lives.
Trees are no less important in the rural landscape than in towns as the air-conditioning and climate control influence they provide is widely beneficial. Indeed many rural landscapes are defined by their trees and visited for their enjoyment. However, four out of five people now live in towns, where the pressures of modern living and therefore the benefits of trees are most strongly felt. Trees contribute directly to our quality of life. On a social level they have a profound effect, reducing crime, stress and mental ill-health, attention deficit disorder, even improving hospital recovery time.

It is the job of all those responsible for looking after trees to assess and manage the level of risk so that people can enjoy all their beauty without exposing them to unacceptable risks. This is part of a wider remit to care for our landscapes and to enhance people’s quality of life that is itself enshrined in both duty and policy. If we do not look after our trees we will greatly diminish our towns and cities, affect people’s health and impede the development of our children. Playing in trees has always been part of childhood and, although occasionally a child will hurt itself doing so, they gain direct experience of the consequences of their actions and choices and therefore a vital understanding of the extent of their abilities and competencies. Trees, therefore, are understood to have some risk attached to them but one that is widely accepted as ‘natural’ and indeed important.

Tree management and risk
Risk-taking is an essential feature of many of our interactions with trees, and of all environments where trees are part of leisure activities. In such circumstances, tree management aims to offer people the chance to encounter acceptable risks as part of a stimulating and beautiful environment. Tree management must also address other consequences of our desire to have trees in our lives. Some of these, such as subsidence and damage to property may be negative and others, such as the provision of shade or reduction of noise, may be positive. Tree risk management should aim to manage the balance between the sustainability and benefits of trees and the harm they may cause, including to human safety.

While the same principles of safety management can be applied both to workplaces generally and tree management, the balance between safety and benefits is likely to be different in the two environments. In tree risk management, exposure to some risk is actually a benefit: it satisfies a basic human need and gives people the chance to enjoy a valuable natural resource. Therefore it is acceptable that in the management of trees people may be exposed to the risk of minor and easily-healed injuries such as bruises, grazes or sprains. On the other hand, tree management should not expose people to significant likelihood of permanent disability or life-threatening injuries. However, it may on occasions be unavoidable that tree management exposes people to the risk to the very low risk of serious injury or even death. But this would only be tolerable under the following conditions:
• The likelihood was extremely low
• The hazards were clear to users
• There were obvious benefits
• Further reduction of the risks would remove the benefits
• There were no reasonably practicable ways to manage the risks

For example, a mature tree in a city park involves a low but irremovable risk of falling on somebody, even if it is frequently inspected and treated, but this risk is usually tolerable. The likelihood is typically low, the hazard is clear and people benefit through retention of a feature that is inextricably linked to why they visit the park. Further reduction of this risk is not possible without removing the tree and taking away the benefits.

Providers should strike a balance between the risks and the benefits. This should be done on the basis of a risk assessment. Crucially, this risk assessment should involve a risk- benefit trade-off between safety and other goals, which should be spelt out in the provider’s policy. One of the factors that should be considered is the time it takes a tree to develop to maturity and the extra benefits that such maturity brings. Sustainability and the maintenance of a mature canopy for current benefit must fit with plans for eventual replacement and the time needed for it to mature. Sensible management now measured against well-designed policies will help to ensure future safety too.

Good Practice.
Clear, well-understood policies, together with procedures that put these policies into practice, are the key to good practice in risk management of trees. Policies should state clearly the overall objectives. Procedures, including risk assessment, should state how these policies are put into practice, giving guidance but also recognising the need for professional judgement in setting the balance between safety and other goals. Such judgements are clearly multidisciplinary in nature.

Conclusion
Safety in tree risk management is not absolute and cannot be addressed in isolation. Tree management needs to integrate the need to maintain a sustainable and valuable tree canopy with the safety of those who pass under it. Arboricultralists, managers and owners will need to reach compromises in meeting these sometimes conflicting goals. These compromises are a matter of judgement, not of mechanistic assessment. The judgements should be based on both social attitudes and on broadly-based expert opinion informed by current good practice. They should be firmly rooted in objectives concerned with people’s enjoyment and benefit. And they should take into account the concerns of stakeholders. Ultimately the basis of these judgements should be made clear in the policies of the tree owner as written down in policy documents. These policies should, in turn, be understood and embodied in practice by all the key stakeholders.

Swine flu: Cause and epidemiology What governments / community and other stakeholders can do to stop the spread

This paper provides a brief outline of the recent swine flu epidemic that has led to the loss of lives especially in Mexico. It traces the early origins of swine flu, its progression and impacts of the outbreak in 2009. The implications of swine flu potentially infiltrating the African continent are examined. The transmission, symptoms and prevention of swine flu are also examined; including what communities, government and service providers (i.e. airlines and hospitals) can do to contain and prevent possible infection. Recommendations and conclusions are outlined on how all stakeholders can help work together to limit and prevent and outbreak.

Introduction
Origins, progression and contemporary transmission of swine flu There has been an overwhelming concern since news of the swine flu outbreak on several continents, especially Mexico and the United Stated gripped the global. Cases of swine flu (i.e. also known as H1N1), which initially killed many people in Mexico, were confirmed around the world. Swine flu is a respiratory disease, which infects pigs. There are many types, and the infection is constantly changing. The swine influenza virus is classified as either Influenzavirus C or one of the subtypes of Influenzavirus A. The swine influenza that infected humans in the U.S. and Mexico is a novel influenza A virus that has not previously been identified in North America.

The onset of the 2009 swine flu is reminiscing of the 1918 N1H1 avian flu virus, the worst plague in human history. The avian flu jumped the species barrier from birds to humans and went on to kill as many as 50 to 100 million people in the 1918 flu pandemic. The current swine flu virus originated in August 1998 in a North Carolina pig factory in which all the thousands of breeding sows fell ill. North Carolina is the home of the nation’s largest pig production operation. A new human-pig hybrid virus was discovered that had picked up three human flu genes. By the end of 1998, the virus acquired two gene segments from bird flu viruses, becoming a pioneering hybrid of a human virus, a pig virus, and a bird virus that triggered outbreaks in Texas, Minnesota, and Iowa. According to the current analysis, published 30 April 2009 in the journal of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, it is from this pool of viruses that the current swine flu threat derives three-quarters of its genetic material. However, the 2009 flu outbreak is due to a new strain of subtype H1N1 not previously reported in pigs. Following the 2009 outbreak, it was reported in pigs at a farm in Alberta, Canada, with a link to the outbreak in Mexico. The pigs are suspected to have caught this new strain of virus from a farm worker who recently returned from Mexico, then showed symptoms of an influenza-like illness. One can easily state that neo-liberal ideology, the free market approach and resultant globalisation and migration have caused the transmission of infection across national borders.

Until now swine flu has not normally infected humans, but the latest form has shown that medical science clearly has limitations in its knowledge regarding cross-infection to humans. Indeed experts scrambled to develop a vaccine due to concern at the potential for a pandemic to affect people globally. Outbreaks in humans are now occurring from human-to-human transmission. Although the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) have reaffirmed that influenza viruses are not known to be transmissible to people through eating processed pork or other food products derived from pigs, and although influenza A viruses are inactivated by heating, nevertheless some countries banned import and sale of pork products as a precaution against swine flu. The Egyptian government also decreed that 300,000 pigs in the country had to be slaughtered as a precaution against the spread swine flu despite the fact that no cases of the swine flu virus have been reported there, bearing in mind that it is spread by people, not pigs. Not only has there been a lack of understanding on how to respond to the crisis, but culling of livestock has somewhat impacted on the economic status of poor farmers. The WHO confirmed that the virus was being passed from human to human but said it had not rapidly spread from infected individuals to their surrounding communities. Nevertheless, from December 2005 through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza were confirmed. All but one person had contact with pigs. However, there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission in those cases.

Contemporary swine flu impacts
The virus, to which people have limited natural immunity, spread too many countries. The outbreak was first detected in Mexico City, where surveillance began picking up a surge in cases of influenza-like illness during the month of March 2009. Initially, in Mexico, swine flu killed at least sixteen people and raised fears of a possible pandemic; while the WHO stated that the flu had killed about sixty Mexicans. However, a recent media report in April 2009 noted that the WHO stated that at least eighty-one people had died from severe pneumonia caused by the illness in Mexico, and tests on suspected cases were also taking place in Scotland, France and Spain. Swine flu cases worldwide as of 20 May 2009 were noted to have soared past 10,000, as confirmed by laboratories. The WHO has confirmed that swine flu has sickened more than 11,000 people in 41 countries and killed 85. Mexico has reported seventy-five deaths, the United States ten, and one in both Canada and Costa Rica as on 21 May 2009. The Utah Health Department reported 122 cases of swine flu in Utah, with first death of a twenty-nine-year-old man with swine flu. Reports were also noted of the Swine flu claiming its first death of a fifty-five-year-old man in New York on the 17 May, with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stating on 15th May that there have been 4,714 confirmed or probable cases in the United States. Despite a somewhat decline in deaths resulting from swine flu, precautions are still been taken by many countries. Eight states had previously closed in Texas affecting 53,000 students, while President Barack Obama stated that school closings might be necessary to keep crowds from spreading the flu. Mexico had already closed schools nationwide until 6 May. Japan joined New York in reporting increasing swine flu cases among students and shutting schools.

Swine flu and Africa
Although swine flu has not been confirmed in Africa as yet, fear is also rife amongst African civil society and governments with African nations scrambling to prevent swine flu impacting on a continent already hostile with the burden of AIDS and malaria. There is fear that if the virus hits the African continent it could wreak much more devastation than in North America or Europe. The WHO warned the virus would have a bigger impact on Africa than it has had anywhere else should it break out on the continent. The WHO also noted that the virus poses a high pandemic risk. While Africa at the moment appears not to be affected, the continent is highly vulnerable according to the United Nations. In Algeria, Ghana and Togo, health authorities were closely observing the development of the disease and had increased health checks. In South Africa, two suspected cases of mild swine flu were detected in people who had visited Mexico. Despite these two suspected cases, the Africa Regional Office of the WHO (AFRO) noted that so far no cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 have been reported in Africa, although programmes to combat the potential spread to Africa of the swine flu were officially reported in nine countries. Some African countries like Niger have not ruled out an outbreak of swine flu, with the Niger’s minister for Livestock and Animal Industries Issiad Ag Khato stating that there was still a risk of swine flu infection.

Transmission and symptoms of swine flu in pigs and humans
Transmission of swine flu can occur between animals (i.e. pigs), from animals to humans, and between humans. The main route of transmission is through direct contact between infected and uninfected animals. These close contacts are particularly common during animal transport. Pigs raised in close proximity to each other via intensive farming may also increase the risk of transmission. The direct transfer of the virus probably occurs either by pigs touching noses or through dried mucus. Airborne transmission produced by pigs coughing or sneezing is also a means of infection. The virus usually spreads quickly through a herd, infecting all the pigs within just a few days. When infected people cough or sneeze, infected droplets get on their hands, drop onto surfaces, or are dispersed into the air. Another person can breathe in contaminated air, or touch infected hands or surfaces, and be exposed. People who work with pigs, especially people with intense exposures, are at increased risk of catching swine flu. The meat of the animal poses no risk of transmitting the virus when properly cooked, so the possibly of infection is there. Symptoms of swine flu in humans appear to be similar to those produced by standard, seasonal flu. These include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue. Other symptoms include headaches, muscle and joint pain, runny nose, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhoea. Seasonal flu often poses a serious threat to public health and each year it kills 250,000 – 500,000 around the world. So far, most cases of swine flu around the world appear to be mild, albeit with diarrhoea more common than it is with seasonal flu. The WHO has noted that so far most people who develop symptoms of infection have not needed drugs to make a full recovery. However, around one in ten needs hospital treatment.

Although the majority (about 90%-95%) of people that get the disease feel terrible (as noted in symptoms above), they recover with no problems, as seen in patients in both Mexico and the U.S. However, caution must be taken as the swine flu is still spreading and may become a pandemic. So far, young adults have not done well, and in Mexico, this group currently has the highest mortality rate, but this data could quickly change. The first traceable case in Mexico, termed “patient zero,” was a 5-year-old child in Veracruz who has completely recovered. Investigators noted that large pig farms were located close to the boy’s home. The first death in the U.S. occurred in a 23-month-old child who was visiting Texas from Mexico but apparently caught the disease in Mexico.

Prevention
Although vaccines are available for pigs to prevent the swine influenza, none so far exists to protect humans, although scientists are working on a formula, but there are ways that people can help prevent the spread of infection.

What the public and communities can do?
Anyone with flu-like symptoms who might have been in contact with the swine virus such as those living or travelling in the areas of Mexico that have been affected should seek medical advice. But patients should not go into doctor surgeries in order to minimise the risk of spreading the disease to others. Patients should rather stay at home and call their healthcare provider for advice. Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell and who have fever and cough. General infection control practices and good hygiene can help to reduce transmission of all viruses, including the human swine influenza.

Further steps that can be taken as a precaution to safeguard against swine flu:
• Wash hands constantly whenever in contact with someone, at work, or even at home. This is one of the biggest and easiest steps to do in order to prevent from contracting any sickness via human contact.
• Disinfect desks, tables, keyboards, counters, furniture, playpens, toys, work areas, bathrooms, and everywhere else in your house. This will help prevent viruses & germs from living on tabletops and toys. This will also prevent individuals and children from contracting the swine flu and any other types of viruses.
• Try to avoid sick people unless it is someone that needs taking care of. However, people must take self-precautions for protection, as the flu is transmitted through any type of human contact. When dealing with someone who is sick, you should wash your hands, and wear some gloves to reduce the risk of transmission.
• Parents should protect their children and be involved in what is happening in their children’s school. Parents will need to know if the school is on alert for any type of sickness. The school environment is one of the easiest ways to contract any virus. Children will need to wash their hands and avoid sharing lunches with other kids to prevent contracting a sickness.
• Wearing an optional surgical mask will help decrease the likeliness of being infected. According to WHO, Patients and caregivers should be trained to wear and dispose of masks during the infectious period of the patient, if supplies are available. Where supplies are limited, it is more important in the home that the patient wears the mask than the caregiver. The mask need not be worn all day and only when close contact (within approximately 1m) with the caregiver or others are anticipated. Masks should be disposed of safely if wet with secretions. Tightly-fitting scarves or a reusable mask made of cloth covering the mouth and nose could be used if masks are unavailable. They should be changed if wet and washed with soap and water.
• Children and elders are at high risk of contracting and dying from the swine flu because of their weak immune systems so they should be given priority protection.
• It is also recommended that people maintain healthful habits such as getting ample sleep and exercise, drink fluids and eating well.
• Sick people must stay at home from work, school or other public activities to avoid the spread of infection. However, according to the WHO, home confinement of ill people in crowded settings may not be practicable. If however there is no option, restricting contact with others should be encouraged as much as possible. Adequate supervision within the household of the ill person should be ensured with preferably only one caregiver to limit potential exposure.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze. And immediately dispose of the tissue after use.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth as the flu virus can enter your body that way.
• Avoid direct contact with pigs.

What governments and other stakeholders can do?
It is imperative that national governments are prepared for any potential events related to swine flu and implement proper measures in place to effectively deal with any threats. In addition, there need to be proper communications between government departments, health authorities, hospitals and airports to help contain any potential outbreaks. For example, local authorities in Shanghai have stepped up monitoring at hospitals and airports to guard against the arrival of a disease that seems to be spreading around the world. Hospitals were ordered to enhance vigilance in their fever clinics and remain on the lookout for sick people who either recently visited the countries where swine flu had been reported or people have been in who had been in contact with pigs. The WHO has produced numerous publications and reports for National Focal Points for the International Health Regulations and competent national public health authorities at points of entry, as well as airport operators, aircraft operators, airport personnel, crew members and other stakeholders involved in air transport.

Some of the important national government African responses have been the formation of inter-ministerial crisis committees and development of plans for action, media coverage to inform citizens, screening arriving and departing passengers (especially passengers coming from risk areas), banning or suspending pork imports from European countries, educating passengers at cross borders, and setting up quarantine facilities to monitoring visitors entering through airports and other border points who may come from infected areas such as from the United States, Canada, Israel, Spain and UK. Unfortunately, these measures are not uniform across Africa and some countries have not as yet taken any precautions (i.e. Burkina Faso, Chad, Mozambique, Niger, and Somali). Egypt, Gabon and Ghana have either slaughtered pigs or banned/suspended imports of pork into their countries, which may not be totally effective. However, with most countries, national governments need to strengthen education and support for local communities on what citizens can do if a pandemic had to occur in their local communities (as described above).

What hospitals and health-care facilities can do?
It is essential that health care facilities implement proper protocols at their institutions to prevent and minimise infectious cases. The WHO recommends basic procedures that hospitals and clinics, especially in low resourced areas, can take to limit infection, a few of which include the following:

• Staff need to separate patients with respiratory symptoms from those presenting with other symptoms at both the outpatient and inpatient levels
• Confinement in a separate respiratory ward for patients admitted with suspected pandemic influenza;
• Maximum separation of beds and head-to-toe positioning of patients in inpatient wards if space is limited;
• Ensure good ventilation of outpatient and inpatient areas;
• Inpatient treatment in low resource settings should include: treatment of dehydration with IV or oral rehydration fluids; supplemental oxygen therapy (if available) by face mask rather than nasal prongs; antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections; non-aspirin antipyretics for pain and fever;
• Nutritional supplementation must be supplied as needed.
• Antiviral use should be prioritised for treatment of sick health-care and other essential staff; and treatment of sick individuals from the community.

Steps airlines and airports can take to prevent spread of identified and suspected cases?
There are steps that airlines and cabin crew members can take for suspected traveller/s with swine flu. The WHO recommends measures that crew members during flight can take to help prevent or isolate a case (refer to Box 1 below). Although airlines are allowing passengers to change ticket destination which were booked to risk countries such as Mexico, they have not cancelled flights to these countries where swine flu has been detected. This suggests that airlines and their cabin crew members need to be more aware and trained in procedures to combat swine flu. Cruise lines on the other hand have been nervously cancelling some Mexican ports of call. They are normally familiar in handling outbreaks on board, and have plenty of antibacterial hand wash dispensers installed all over the ship.

Recommended procedures for airline cabin crew members to contain swine flu
1. If medical support from the ground is available, contact ground support immediately and/or page for medical assistance on board (as per company policy).
2. If medical ground support and/or an on‐board health professional is available, crew should follow their medical advice accordingly.
3. If no medical support is available:
a) Relocate the ill traveller to a more isolated area, if appropriate, and space is available. If the ill traveller is relocated, make sure that the cleaning crew at destination will be advised to clean both locations. (All surfaces potentially contaminated by the ill traveller should be cleaned and disinfected according to the WHO Guide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation) .
b) Designate one cabin crew member to look after the ill traveller, preferably the cabin crew member who has already been dealing with this traveller. More than one cabin crew member may be necessary if more care is required.
c) When possible, designate a specific lavatory for the exclusive use of the ill traveller. If not possible, the commonly touched surfaces of the lavatories (faucet, door handles, waste‐bin cover, counter top, etc.) must be cleaned and disinfected after each use by the ill traveller.
d) If the ill traveller is coughing, request him/her to follow respiratory etiquette:
i. Provide tissues and the advice to use the tissues to cover the mouth and nose when speaking, sneezing or coughing.
ii. Advise the ill traveller to practice proper hand hygiene. If the hands become visibly soiled, they must be washed with soap and water.
iii. Provide an air‐sick bag to be used for the safe disposal of tissues.
e) If available on aircraft and tolerated by the ill traveller, a medical (surgical or procedure) mask should be, and the ill traveller asked to wear it. If a mask is used, replace with a new mask as soon as it becomes damp / humid. After touching a used mask, (e.g. for disposal), proper hand hygiene must be practised immediately. Single masks should not be reused and must be disposed safely after use.
f) If there is a risk of direct contact with body fluids, the crew member should wear disposable gloves. Gloves are not intended to replace proper hand hygiene. Gloves should be carefully removed and safely disposed. After the removal of gloves, hands should preferably be washed with soap and water or, if the hands are not visibly soiled, cleansed with an alcohol‐based hand rub.
g) If the ill traveller cannot tolerate a mask, the designated cabin crew member(s) or any other person in close contact (less than 1 metre) with the ill person should wear a medical (surgical or procedure) mask. The airline should ensure that the cabin crew member has adequate training in its use to ensure that risk is not increased (for example by more frequent hand‐face contact or adjusting and removing the mask).
h) Store soiled items (used tissues, disposable masks, oxygen mask and tubing, linen, pillows, blankets, seat pocket items, etc.) in a biohazard bag if one is available. If not, use a sealed plastic bag and label it “biohazard”.
i) Ask accompanying traveller(s) (spouse, children, friends, etc.) if they have any similar symptoms. The same procedure should be followed for all ill travellers.
j) Ensure that hand‐carried cabin baggage is removed along with the ill traveller, and comply with any public health authority requests.
4. As soon as possible, advise the captain of the situation.
5. Unless stated otherwise by ground medical support or public health officials, ask all travellers seated in the same row, and two rows in front and two rows behind the ill traveller (i.e. a total of five rows) to complete a passenger locator card if such cards are available on the aircraft. If not available on board, this action should be taken immediately upon the arrival of the aircraft at next airport.

The pilot of an aircraft must also inform air traffic control, as early as possible before arrival, of any cases of illness indicative of a disease of an infectious nature or evidence of a public health risk on board. This information must be relayed immediately/as soon as possible by air traffic control to the competent authority for the destination airport. The relevant competent health authority shall take action according to the national public health surveillance and response procedures, the airport emergency plan regarding public health events and international requirements. Some of these actions may include coordinating with the airport operator/airport authority to provide a parking area for the aircraft, facilitating and supervising agreements with appropriate agencies, health care units, airport authorities, airlines and service providers, for the management of arriving traveller(s) displaying symptoms of infection, including coordination for customs and immigration clearance. There should also be the availability of appropriate transport for travellers suspected of having an illness to a designated facility for further evaluation, quarantine, isolation and treatment as necessary. Infected travellers must be treated in accordance with national law and international requirements – including the WHO International Health Regulations of 2005.

Conclusion
For countries to be effective at combating swine flu will require co-operation between all levels of government and with service and tourism providers, airlines, healthcare centres, communities and civil society generally (and other identified stakeholders). It is difficult to say how dangerous swine flu really is, but many people have already died in Mexico. The exact causes of deaths have not been precisely verified. Mexicans who died may have sought treatment at a much later stage, compared to those in other countries. All of the other countries so far are highly developed industrialized countries. Living conditions and nutritional standards of those who died in Mexico may have been lower, compared with those who survived in Mexico and abroad. Due to the uncertainty of swine flu impacts, it is even more essential that nations and their governments take precautions to prevent the spread of swine flu. The WHO has warned that the outbreak may have a pandemic potential and countries are advised to step up surveillance and preparation in case the infection spreads rapidly. Therefore, government organizations must also focus on getting the message out to local communities about how to respond to the threat of influenza through education and awareness campaigns.

Leonard, L. (2009) Swine flu: Cause and epidemiology – What governments/community and other stakeholders can do to stop the spread. Ugandan Parliamentary briefing, Royal African Society, United Kingdom, 25 May

The environmental and human health impacts of Waste: Responses towards environmental justice for Africa Research Series – Part 2

This paper is the second part of a three-part research series exploring toxic waste and transboundary movement of toxic waste from developed to developing countries. Research Series Part 1 traced some of the reasons for the movement of toxic waste from northern to southern countries, focusing especially on waste imports into the African continent. This second part research examines some of the environmental and human health effects of transboundary waste movements and disposal in Africa. It looks at two African case studies to highlight the impacts of waste disposal, especially on local communities. These include Ashanti Goldfields and Anglo American gold mining operations in Tanzania and Thor Chemicals in South Africa. It also examines some civil society responses to achieve local environmental justice in the case of Thor Chemicals. The paper finally examines the impacts of e-waste for African communities in general before concluding. This paper together with Research Series Part 1 builds on Part 3, which will explore solutions to eliminate the production of toxic waste and waste trafficking.

Introduction
The potential for adverse human health and environmental effects of transboundary dumping of toxic (and other) waste in Africa cannot be overemphasised. The solution for industrialised countries for many years has been to export their waste to third world countries which are in greater need of funds and where concern for the health of the population is minimum or non-existent. As noted in Research Series Part 1, developing countries usually have lax environmental regulations. In addition, developing countries are unlikely to have in place standards for the proper design of hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities. The tendency, therefore, is that these wastes will not be disposed of in an environmentally-safe manner. There is, therefore, potential for devastating impacts of hazardous waste on human health and the environment. Despite sixteen years of the Basel Convention (Refer to Research Series Part 1 for more information on the Basel Convention), import of toxic waste especially electronic waste and old ships has actually increased in developing countries. At the ninth Conference of Parties (COP 9) in Bali 2008, the President of the Basel Convention, Rachmat Nadi Witoelar Kartaadipoetra, State Minister for the Environment of Indonesia noted, regarding the negative impacts of hazardous wastes on people and nature, the illegal traffic of such wastes has shown no sign of decreasing and that their generation was actually increasing. As Research Series Part 1 noted, global waste generation was about 12.7 billion tonnes in 2000 and is expected to rise to about 19.0 billion tonnes in 2025 and to about 27.0 billion tonnes in 2050.

Impacts on human health and the environment as a result of transboundary movement of waste, especially toxic waste, continue to be widespread in Africa. The dumping of waste in 2006 by a Dutch company around the port city of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, resulted in the death of 10 people and the hospitalisation of 69 others. Several thousand more suffer lingering effects on their health, their livelihoods and their personal environments. Due to the hazardous and nuclear dumping in Somalia by European companies in 1997, the public faces unfamiliar diseases with an alarming increase of cancer patients, deformed births and other illnesses. Large quantities of obsolete computers, televisions, mobile phones, and other used electronic equipment exported from the United States and Europe to Lagos, Nigeria for “re-use and repair” are dumped and burned near residences in empty lots, roadsides and in swamps creating serious health and environmental contamination from the toxic leachate and smoke. In 2001 in Ghana, multinational Goldfields Ghana Limited, spewed thousands of cubic metres of wastewater contaminated with cyanide and heavy metals into the Asuman River, the main source of drinking water for the Abekoase community and Huni Village and several other hamlets along the river. The river was awash with a large amount of dead fish stock, crabs and other aquatic life floating on the water. Cyanide is known to be lethal to humans in very small quantities, with only a teaspoon of two percent cyanide solution causing death. Because of the number of cyanide spills and accidents, cyanide leach gold mining using large quantities of cyanide to remove gold from ore or crushed rock is creating much controversy. There is growing concern about both the environmental impacts and human health risks of using cyanide as a processing agent.

Ashanti Goldfields and Anglo American gold mining:
The case of health and environmental impacts in Tanzania
Tanzania is blessed with an abundance of mineral resources. In gold alone, Tanzania is estimated to be sitting on top of a US$39 billion treasure and is the third-biggest producer of gold in Africa. Despite this, not only is the country one of the poorest in the world, but local communities living next to multinational mining giants are exposed to the toxic waste spewed from gold mining production. In 2001 in Tanzania, the Geita gold mine a joint venture between Ashanti Goldfields of Ghana (as above) and South Africa’s Anglo-American leaked toxic chemicals (i.e. cyanide) used to extract gold into the local drinking water supply. Villagers noted that pollution from the mines was killing people, livestock, and wildlife due to water contamination. A family of four died after eating a dying rabbit they had caught near the tailings dam. A number of women were also reported to have had miscarriages. In total, about 857 people were displaced by the incident with no compensation. According to preliminary research findings by the Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT), residents in the district are being afflicted by unidentified diseases with unfamiliar symptoms because of the increasing pollutants. Plants that the farmers raise contain up to 9000 times the maximum limit for heavy metals determined by UN agencies. The soil is supposedly more than 6000 times as toxic as the maximum level. Heavy rains also caused mining waste to overflow from the eighty-two-hectare dam into nearby streams. The company made clear it accepted no responsibility for any deaths but ironically wanted to be a good neighbour. More than 4000 people had to leave their homes when the mining operations were started in 2000. However, the pollution caused by Geita gold mine is not an isolated incident in Tanzania. Similar incidents have also occurred for the Bulyanhulu mine which is operated by Barrick Gold Tanzania Limited, which has impacted on the Nyamongo village community.

The devastating impacts of gold mining on Tanzania communities and environment (as above) was also noted in a 2008 Tanzanian report by a Special Rapporteur to the United Nations, Human Rights Council on ‘the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights.’ In accordance with the Resolution of the Commission on Human Rights the appointment of a Special Rapporteur is mandated to carry out field missions with a view to assisting the Governments concerned in finding appropriate solutions to deal with the illicit traffic and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, especially in African and other developing countries. In addition, the report noted with concern the large volume of unregulated small-scale mining that is taking place around the country.

It was noted that both gold and diamonds were using chemicals such as mercury and other dangerous products during the extraction process without the use of proper safety equipment (potentially impacting on workers health). Of concern was that substantial amounts of mercury were obtained by small-scale miners from “unofficial” sources outside the control of the government. Miners also did not have adequate information about the impact mercury could have on their health, including the dangers of the improper disposal of tailings and their effect on their livelihood and the environment. In a number of areas, land, water, plants and livestock were noted to possibly be at a high risk of contamination from mercury and other dangerous wastes. In other cases, a limited number of small-scale miners had some awareness of the dangers of using mercury and other chemicals in the extraction process. However, due to poverty, inadequate information and the lack of a suitable alternative, the miners continued to use mercury and other dangerous products without appropriate safety measures, endangering both the environment and their own health. Large scale gold mining companies did not conduct adequate awareness campaigns to sensitise villagers in their areas about the dangers posed by contact with wastes from their operations, particularly cyanide. The case study above shows how multinationals that set up operations in Africa; dump their toxic by-products of their industrial processes onto local populations who have to suffer the consequences of local resources extraction. Unfortunately, this extracted wealth leaves the local communities who rightfully own local resources. The only things left behind by multinationals for communities are externality costs (i.e. degraded environments and human health effects for present and future generations).

Britain’s Thor Chemicals waste trafficking: The case of South Africa
Background and history
Thor Chemicals Inc of Great Britain (now known as Guernica Chemicals), a mercury processing plant established in 1963, had been accused in 1987 of poisoning workers and putting surrounding South African black communities at risk from mercury exposure. The industry relocated its United Kingdom mercury recycling operation to Cato Ridge in 1987. The risks created by Thor were situated in the Umgeni catchment at Cato Ridge in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The company activity included the production of mercury-based products for local and export markets. Thor engaged in the manufacture and marketing of biocides, textile auxiliaries and metallic organic soaps. The company received mercury waste shipments mainly from the United States, but also from Britain, Singapore and Indonesia. Other areas included Brazil and Italy. As one of the only facilities in the world to form a large-scale mercury reclaiming process, Thor quickly became a target for many international companies facing the predicament of what to do with mercury waste. These exports and pollution caused by Thor were disclosed as part of an investigation of toxic waste trafficking. Thor was receiving shipments as part of their mercury recovery (recycling) program, which included the importation of mercury waste to recover mercury. The company accumulated mercury waste because of increased production of mercuric compounds and spent catalyst waste returned by its customers after use.

Thor committed numerous offences, including the relocation of operations to South Africa to escape health and safety criticisms from United Kingdom authorities. The company neglected to protect workers from the occupational health hazards associated with mercury. Management disregarding company urinary monitoring results that repeatedly indicated excessive levels of mercury in workers and failed to inform workers about the occupational health hazards associated with mercury. Thor also employed casual and untrained workers who were laid off or ‘recycled’ once they became ill. Other offences committed by Thor included environmental racism, contamination of local groundwater and surface water supplies, stockpiling of mercury waste, sludge, and treated waste. The company also exceeded atmospheric emissions beyond existing regulations and used incineration for disposal despite it being abandoned in most countries in the late 1980s. This was due to organic generating air releases (i.e. polychlorinated biphenyl’s and dioxin) and toxic ash disposal. The industry was incinerating hazardous waste without a license. The incinerator did not meet required standards as set out by different government departments, and despite the shutdowns, Thor continued accepting waste which accumulated. The mercury Thor received contained high levels of dangerous organic compounds. At the time there were five mercury-recycling plants in the United States but not one of them would touch waste with an organic content higher than 3%. The mercury waste containing organic contents received by Thor was said to be between 30 and 40% by volume. TCH had been aware of the poor operations of its plant since 1978. In 1987 TCH was issued with an ultimatum by United Kingdom authorities to clean up or face court action and was forced to close its United Kingdom operations. Despite this TCH continued its mercury operations in South Africa. In 1990 even though the then Minister of Environmental Affairs announced that: ‘South Africa will under no circumstances allow that other countries export their hazardous waste to South Africa’, the Minister of Environment bowed to multinational pressure within two months of the first announcement. In a letter addressed to the Managing Director of Thor Chemicals, South Africa, the Minister rescinded the ban placed on the importation of hazardous waste, provided Thor did not accept spent chemicals for recycling, other than those originating from its other subsidiaries.

Environmental and health impacts
The people most affected were workers directly handling mercury. It was reported that they were suffering from a severe nervous disorder induced by mercury poisoning. In 1990 South African NGO Earth Life Africa (ELA) received reports of workers ‘going mad’ at Thor. Many workers died after being exposed to massive quantities of mercury. In April 1990, 29 workers at the Cato Ridge Thor site presented psychiatric and neurological signs and symptoms. Subsequent medical examinations revealed that workers’ had severe mercury poisoning and subsequently three workers died from mercury poisoning. An investigation by the Industrial Health Unit into 80 medical records revealed that 87% of workers had mercury levels that were above the safe limit. In 1992, an Industrial Health Unit report stated that 28% of workers were in danger of permanent health damage due to poisoning. In 1992 a government report revealed that 29 workers had suffered mercury poisoning. In 1998 it was shown that workers had been exposed to mercury levels up to 12 times higher than World Health Organisation (WHO) regulations. Workers were exposed to high mercury levels during employment and suffered symptoms including sexual dysfunction, tiredness, quick tempers and severe memory loss. Mercury was also found 15 kilometers downstream from the plant. Water samples, taken from the Mngeweni River behind Thor and analysed for mercury, were found to contain 1.5 million parts per billion. This was 1500 times higher than the United States limit for “sediment to be declared toxic.” In 1990 samples taken by Greenpeace and local activists revealed equally high levels of mercury. Cattle died due to mercury exposure from drinking water. The stockpiled waste had also contaminated groundwater and soil. Thor exposed the downstream communities that relied on this river for drinking and fishing with mercury poisoning. Rats in the vicinity were found by a zoologist to have seven times more mercury in their bodies than a control group away from the plant.

Responses towards environmental injustice
Early protest in 1990 against Thor Chemicals was brought together by a heterogeneous group of people including black peasant farmers, ecologists, students, unionised workers and the traditional Zulu chief. The South African Chemical Worker’s Industrial Unit (SACWIU) General Secretary noted that the demonstration signalled a powerful ‘rainbow coalition’ between green groups and the trade union movement in South Africa. Publicity both nationally and internationally was employed. The first indication of injustice was revealed when Greenpeace, ELA and the South African NGO Environmental Justice Networking Forum (EJNF) exposed a dispatched shipment of 160 barrels of toxic mercury from its Louisiana plant to South Africa. In South Africa, ELA, EJNF and protesters held vigils at the Cato Ridge plant on 21 February 1993. Similar protests were held at the Borden plant in Louisiana. Such actions had a strong international component with workers and concerned citizens in two countries thousands of miles apart combining forces to send a clear message to multinationals and the international toxic waste trade, that they would not go unchallenged. Worldwide attention focused on the international shipping of toxic waste. The pressure was applied on government by the South African environmental organisations to ban further imports of toxic waste according to the Basel convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. ELA and Greenpeace began compiling information on Thor activities and transgressions and began building a case study against Thor and the SA government. Following the deaths of two workers in 1992 and months of investigation, Thor was criminally charged in Great Britain for culpable homicide and violations of machinery and Occupational Safety Act. In 1994, a claim was filed against Thor in the High Court in London on behalf of the first three victims.

On 24 March 1995, after public outcry of mercury waste poisoning, the government appointed a Commission of Inquiry into Thor Chemicals. The purpose of the commission was to investigate the history as well as the background of the acquisition of the mercury stockpiles on the Thor premises and to report on further utilisation. The formal Department of Manpower inquiry revealed gross negligence. A total of 41 former workers sued Thor for compensation for mercury poisoning. The cases were ultimately settled out of court. Court proceedings against Thor took place from 1992 to 1995. All charges of homicide against three employees were dropped by the State Prosecutor. In the 1990s, compensation claims against the parent company of Thor Chemicals commenced in the English High Court on behalf of 20 workers affected by mercury poisoning. The claims alleged that the English parent company was liable because of its negligent design, transfer, set-up, operation, and supervision and monitoring of an intrinsically hazardous process. In 1997, the claim was settled for £1.3 million. A further 21 claims were commenced by workers from the same factory and settled on the first day of trial. Evidence from abroad against Thor was said to be important for successful outcomes of litigations.

In 1994, after seven workers died at the plant, the South African government prohibited the plant from operating. Since then stockpiled mercury waste has been sitting on the property and has leaked chemicals into the environment. Thor closed it mercury-recycling operations in 1997 but did not remove the stored mercury stored on-site. In 2003, the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs handed over a directive to clean up to the management of Thor. In terms of the directive, Thor would have to take specific steps within a specific time to properly and safely store the waste and to clean up all traces of mercury contamination in the surrounding community.

In June 2004, the national Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) commissioned consultants to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Treatment and Disposal of Mercury Waste and Decontamination of the Thor Chemical Site in Cato Ridge. NGOs gW and ELA questioned whether incineration would be used in the final disposal phase. According to gW, the wheels of justice with regard to holding Thor accountable and protecting the health of people and the environment has been slow. In 1994 the National Department of Health closed Thor’s recovery plant after tests revealed unacceptable levels of mercury in emissions from the incinerator. In the same year, imports of mercury-containing waste ceased to be imported into the Cato Ridge plant. However, the Cato Ridge site still houses over 3,500 tonnes of mercury-containing waste endangering surrounding communities and the environment. Environmental justice has not been fuller achieved.

Unknown impacts of e-waste on human health and the environment
According to the European Environmental Agency, e-waste is growing faster than any other type of waste, with an annual volume close to 40 million metric tonnes globally. Unfortunately, many communities and workers exposed to toxic waste in developing countries do not know the extent of the impacts of toxic waste to human health and their surrounding environments. A Greenpeace analysis of soil and sediment were taken from two electronic wastes scrap yards in Ghana in 2008 revealed severe contamination with hazardous chemicals. The report ‘Chemical contamination at e-waste recycling and disposal sites in Ghana’, noted with concern the extent of environmental contamination caused by recycling and disposal of e-waste in Ghana from Europe, the United States and Japan. Some of the samples contained toxic metals including lead in quantities as much as one hundred times above levels found in uncontaminated soil and sediment samples. Other chemicals such as phthalates, some which are known to interfere with sexual reproduction, were found in most of the test samples. One sample also contained a high level of chlorinated dioxins, known to promote cancer. There was a concern for Ghanian children’s developmental and reproductive systems, as well as brain development and nervous system impacts.

Other activities that have the potential for impacting on handlers of e-waste include children playing amid heaps of toxic ash from burned electronic waste, unprotected workers brushing cancer-causing carbon black from computer printer cartridges, labourers opening cathode ray tubes containing toxic lead and barium, and widespread burning of plastics that produce dioxins. Other activities include handlers whose work involves sitting by small fires, heating up computer circuit boards to melt the lead-and-tin solder, producing toxic fumes they cannot help but inhale.

Conclusion
Unfortunately, the impacts of toxic waste are usually borne by poor people, whom in addition to already experiencing high levels of poverty that impact on their health; have to deal with added chemical and toxic exposures that further reduce their quality of life. Hazardous waste disposal sites generally expose large populations to toxins. Communities exposed to such toxins are almost always required to also provide evidence for the burdens they are exposed to even though impacts on health may or may not be clearly visible. In fact, many of the impacts to health may take years to fully materialise due to the bioaccumulatory nature of toxic chemicals exposure. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights notes that toxic waste affects the human right to health, both physical and mental, and the human rights to clean water, food, adequate housing and work. Unfortunately, poor communities in Africa do not have the resources to fight against multinational corruption and dumping of toxic waste into communities. It is ultimately up to civil society organisations and governments who must provide the necessary education to inform people about impacts of toxic waste on human health and the environment. In addition, the global community must stop toxic waste and illegal toxic waste disposal. However, what are the solutions to eliminate the production of toxic waste and waste trafficking and disposal for Africa? This will be addressed in final Part 3 of this research series.

Leonard, L. (2009) The environmental and human health impacts of Waste: Responses towards environmental justice for Africa, Research Series – Part 2, Ugandan Parliamentary Briefing, United Kingdom, 13 March.

The environmental and human health impacts of Waste: Responses towards environmental justice for Africa

This paper is the second part of a three-part research series exploring toxic waste and transboundary movement of toxic waste from developed to developing countries. Research Series Part 1 traced some of the reasons for the movement of toxic waste from northern to southern countries, focusing especially on waste imports into the African continent. This second part research examines some of the environmental and human health effects of transboundary waste movements and disposal in Africa. It looks at two African case studies to highlight the impacts of waste disposal, especially on local communities. These include Ashanti Goldfields and Anglo American gold mining operations in Tanzania and Thor Chemicals in South Africa. It also examines some civil society responses to achieve local environmental justice in the case of Thor Chemicals. The paper finally examines the impacts of e-waste for African communities in general before concluding. This paper together with Research Series Part 1 builds on Part 3, which will explore solutions to eliminate the production of toxic waste and waste trafficking.

Introduction
The potential for adverse human health and environmental effects of transboundary dumping of toxic (and other) waste in Africa cannot be overemphasised. The solution for industrialised countries for many years has been to export their waste to third world countries which are in greater need of funds and where concern for the health of the population is minimum or non-existent. As noted in Research Series Part 1, developing countries usually have lax environmental regulations. In addition, developing countries are unlikely to have in place standards for the proper design of hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities. The tendency, therefore, is that these wastes will not be disposed of in an environmentally-safe manner. There is, therefore, potential for devastating impacts of hazardous waste on human health and the environment. Despite sixteen years of the Basel Convention (Refer to Research Series Part 1 for more information on the Basel Convention), import of toxic waste especially electronic waste and old ships has actually increased in developing countries. At the ninth Conference of Parties (COP 9) in Bali 2008, the President of the Basel Convention, Rachmat Nadi Witoelar Kartaadipoetra, State Minister for the Environment of Indonesia noted, regarding the negative impacts of hazardous wastes on people and nature, the illegal traffic of such wastes has shown no sign of decreasing and that their generation was actually increasing. As Research Series Part 1 noted, global waste generation was about 12.7 billion tonnes in 2000 and is expected to rise to about 19.0 billion tonnes in 2025 and to about 27.0 billion tonnes in 2050.

Impacts on human health and the environment as a result of transboundary movement of waste, especially toxic waste, continue to be widespread in Africa. The dumping of waste in 2006 by a Dutch company around the port city of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, resulted in the death of 10 people and the hospitalisation of 69 others. Several thousand more suffer lingering effects on their health, their livelihoods and their personal environments. Due to the hazardous and nuclear dumping in Somalia by European companies in 1997, the public faces unfamiliar diseases with an alarming increase of cancer patients, deformed births and other illnesses. Large quantities of obsolete computers, televisions, mobile phones, and other used electronic equipment exported from the United States and Europe to Lagos, Nigeria for “re-use and repair” are dumped and burned near residences in empty lots, roadsides and in swamps creating serious health and environmental contamination from the toxic leachate and smoke. In 2001 in Ghana, multinational Goldfields Ghana Limited, spewed thousands of cubic metres of wastewater contaminated with cyanide and heavy metals into the Asuman River, the main source of drinking water for the Abekoase community and Huni Village and several other hamlets along the river. The river was awash with a large amount of dead fish stock, crabs and other aquatic life floating on the water. Cyanide is known to be lethal to humans in very small quantities, with only a teaspoon of two percent cyanide solution causing death. Because of the number of cyanide spills and accidents, cyanide leach gold mining using large quantities of cyanide to remove gold from ore or crushed rock is creating much controversy. There is growing concern about both the environmental impacts and human health risks of using cyanide as a processing agent.

Ashanti Goldfields and Anglo American gold mining:
The case of health and environmental impacts in Tanzania
Tanzania is blessed with an abundance of mineral resources. In gold alone, Tanzania is estimated to be sitting on top of a US$39 billion treasure and is the third-biggest producer of gold in Africa. Despite this, not only is the country one of the poorest in the world, but local communities living next to multinational mining giants are exposed to the toxic waste spewed from gold mining production. In 2001 in Tanzania, the Geita gold mine a joint venture between Ashanti Goldfields of Ghana (as above) and South Africa’s Anglo-American leaked toxic chemicals (i.e. cyanide) used to extract gold into the local drinking water supply. Villagers noted that pollution from the mines was killing people, livestock, and wildlife due to water contamination. A family of four died after eating a dying rabbit they had caught near the tailings dam. A number of women were also reported to have had miscarriages. In total, about 857 people were displaced by the incident with no compensation. According to preliminary research findings by the Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT), residents in the district are being afflicted by unidentified diseases with unfamiliar symptoms because of the increasing pollutants. Plants that the farmers raise contain up to 9000 times the maximum limit for heavy metals determined by UN agencies. The soil is supposedly more than 6000 times as toxic as the maximum level. Heavy rains also caused mining waste to overflow from the eighty-two-hectare dam into nearby streams. The company made clear it accepted no responsibility for any deaths but ironically wanted to be a good neighbour. More than 4000 people had to leave their homes when the mining operations were started in 2000. However, the pollution caused by Geita gold mine is not an isolated incident in Tanzania. Similar incidents have also occurred for the Bulyanhulu mine which is operated by Barrick Gold Tanzania Limited, which has impacted on the Nyamongo village community.

The devastating impacts of gold mining on Tanzania communities and environment (as above) was also noted in a 2008 Tanzanian report by a Special Rapporteur to the United Nations, Human Rights Council on ‘the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights.’ In accordance with the Resolution of the Commission on Human Rights the appointment of a Special Rapporteur is mandated to carry out field missions with a view to assisting the Governments concerned in finding appropriate solutions to deal with the illicit traffic and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, especially in African and other developing countries. In addition, the report noted with concern the large volume of unregulated small-scale mining that is taking place around the country.

It was noted that both gold and diamonds were using chemicals such as mercury and other dangerous products during the extraction process without the use of proper safety equipment (potentially impacting on workers health). Of concern was that substantial amounts of mercury were obtained by small-scale miners from “unofficial” sources outside the control of the government. Miners also did not have adequate information about the impact mercury could have on their health, including the dangers of the improper disposal of tailings and their effect on their livelihood and the environment. In a number of areas, land, water, plants and livestock were noted to possibly be at a high risk of contamination from mercury and other dangerous wastes. In other cases, a limited number of small-scale miners had some awareness of the dangers of using mercury and other chemicals in the extraction process. However, due to poverty, inadequate information and the lack of a suitable alternative, the miners continued to use mercury and other dangerous products without appropriate safety measures, endangering both the environment and their own health. Large scale gold mining companies did not conduct adequate awareness campaigns to sensitise villagers in their areas about the dangers posed by contact with wastes from their operations, particularly cyanide. The case study above shows how multinationals that set up operations in Africa; dump their toxic by-products of their industrial processes onto local populations who have to suffer the consequences of local resources extraction. Unfortunately, this extracted wealth leaves the local communities who rightfully own local resources. The only things left behind by multinationals for communities are externality costs (i.e. degraded environments and human health effects for present and future generations).

Britain’s Thor Chemicals waste trafficking: The case of South Africa
Background and history
Thor Chemicals Inc of Great Britain (now known as Guernica Chemicals), a mercury processing plant established in 1963, had been accused in 1987 of poisoning workers and putting surrounding South African black communities at risk from mercury exposure. The industry relocated its United Kingdom mercury recycling operation to Cato Ridge in 1987. The risks created by Thor were situated in the Umgeni catchment at Cato Ridge in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The company activity included the production of mercury-based products for local and export markets. Thor engaged in the manufacture and marketing of biocides, textile auxiliaries and metallic organic soaps. The company received mercury waste shipments mainly from the United States, but also from Britain, Singapore and Indonesia. Other areas included Brazil and Italy. As one of the only facilities in the world to form a large-scale mercury reclaiming process, Thor quickly became a target for many international companies facing the predicament of what to do with mercury waste. These exports and pollution caused by Thor were disclosed as part of an investigation of toxic waste trafficking. Thor was receiving shipments as part of their mercury recovery (recycling) program, which included the importation of mercury waste to recover mercury. The company accumulated mercury waste because of increased production of mercuric compounds and spent catalyst waste returned by its customers after use.

Thor committed numerous offences, including the relocation of operations to South Africa to escape health and safety criticisms from United Kingdom authorities. The company neglected to protect workers from the occupational health hazards associated with mercury. Management disregarding company urinary monitoring results that repeatedly indicated excessive levels of mercury in workers and failed to inform workers about the occupational health hazards associated with mercury. Thor also employed casual and untrained workers who were laid off or ‘recycled’ once they became ill. Other offences committed by Thor included environmental racism, contamination of local groundwater and surface water supplies, stockpiling of mercury waste, sludge, and treated waste. The company also exceeded atmospheric emissions beyond existing regulations and used incineration for disposal despite it being abandoned in most countries in the late 1980s. This was due to organic generating air releases (i.e. polychlorinated biphenyl’s and dioxin) and toxic ash disposal. The industry was incinerating hazardous waste without a license. The incinerator did not meet required standards as set out by different government departments, and despite the shutdowns, Thor continued accepting waste which accumulated. The mercury Thor received contained high levels of dangerous organic compounds. At the time there were five mercury-recycling plants in the United States but not one of them would touch waste with an organic content higher than 3%. The mercury waste containing organic contents received by Thor was said to be between 30 and 40% by volume. TCH had been aware of the poor operations of its plant since 1978. In 1987 TCH was issued with an ultimatum by United Kingdom authorities to clean up or face court action and was forced to close its United Kingdom operations. Despite this TCH continued its mercury operations in South Africa. In 1990 even though the then Minister of Environmental Affairs announced that: ‘South Africa will under no circumstances allow that other countries export their hazardous waste to South Africa’, the Minister of Environment bowed to multinational pressure within two months of the first announcement. In a letter addressed to the Managing Director of Thor Chemicals, South Africa, the Minister rescinded the ban placed on the importation of hazardous waste, provided Thor did not accept spent chemicals for recycling, other than those originating from its other subsidiaries.

Environmental and health impacts
The people most affected were workers directly handling mercury. It was reported that they were suffering from a severe nervous disorder induced by mercury poisoning. In 1990 South African NGO Earth Life Africa (ELA) received reports of workers ‘going mad’ at Thor. Many workers died after being exposed to massive quantities of mercury. In April 1990, 29 workers at the Cato Ridge Thor site presented psychiatric and neurological signs and symptoms. Subsequent medical examinations revealed that workers’ had severe mercury poisoning and subsequently three workers died from mercury poisoning. An investigation by the Industrial Health Unit into 80 medical records revealed that 87% of workers had mercury levels that were above the safe limit. In 1992, an Industrial Health Unit report stated that 28% of workers were in danger of permanent health damage due to poisoning. In 1992 a government report revealed that 29 workers had suffered mercury poisoning. In 1998 it was shown that workers had been exposed to mercury levels up to 12 times higher than World Health Organisation (WHO) regulations. Workers were exposed to high mercury levels during employment and suffered symptoms including sexual dysfunction, tiredness, quick tempers and severe memory loss. Mercury was also found 15 kilometers downstream from the plant. Water samples, taken from the Mngeweni River behind Thor and analysed for mercury, were found to contain 1.5 million parts per billion. This was 1500 times higher than the United States limit for “sediment to be declared toxic.” In 1990 samples taken by Greenpeace and local activists revealed equally high levels of mercury. Cattle died due to mercury exposure from drinking water. The stockpiled waste had also contaminated groundwater and soil. Thor exposed the downstream communities that relied on this river for drinking and fishing with mercury poisoning. Rats in the vicinity were found by a zoologist to have seven times more mercury in their bodies than a control group away from the plant.

Responses towards environmental injustice
Early protest in 1990 against Thor Chemicals was brought together by a heterogeneous group of people including black peasant farmers, ecologists, students, unionised workers and the traditional Zulu chief. The South African Chemical Worker’s Industrial Unit (SACWIU) General Secretary noted that the demonstration signalled a powerful ‘rainbow coalition’ between green groups and the trade union movement in South Africa. Publicity both nationally and internationally was employed. The first indication of injustice was revealed when Greenpeace, ELA and the South African NGO Environmental Justice Networking Forum (EJNF) exposed a dispatched shipment of 160 barrels of toxic mercury from its Louisiana plant to South Africa. In South Africa, ELA, EJNF and protesters held vigils at the Cato Ridge plant on 21 February 1993. Similar protests were held at the Borden plant in Louisiana. Such actions had a strong international component with workers and concerned citizens in two countries thousands of miles apart combining forces to send a clear message to multinationals and the international toxic waste trade, that they would not go unchallenged. Worldwide attention focused on the international shipping of toxic waste. The pressure was applied on government by the South African environmental organisations to ban further imports of toxic waste according to the Basel convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. ELA and Greenpeace began compiling information on Thor activities and transgressions and began building a case study against Thor and the SA government. Following the deaths of two workers in 1992 and months of investigation, Thor was criminally charged in Great Britain for culpable homicide and violations of machinery and Occupational Safety Act. In 1994, a claim was filed against Thor in the High Court in London on behalf of the first three victims.

On 24 March 1995, after public outcry of mercury waste poisoning, the government appointed a Commission of Inquiry into Thor Chemicals. The purpose of the commission was to investigate the history as well as the background of the acquisition of the mercury stockpiles on the Thor premises and to report on further utilisation. The formal Department of Manpower inquiry revealed gross negligence. A total of 41 former workers sued Thor for compensation for mercury poisoning. The cases were ultimately settled out of court. Court proceedings against Thor took place from 1992 to 1995. All charges of homicide against three employees were dropped by the State Prosecutor. In the 1990s, compensation claims against the parent company of Thor Chemicals commenced in the English High Court on behalf of 20 workers affected by mercury poisoning. The claims alleged that the English parent company was liable because of its negligent design, transfer, set-up, operation, and supervision and monitoring of an intrinsically hazardous process. In 1997, the claim was settled for £1.3 million. A further 21 claims were commenced by workers from the same factory and settled on the first day of trial. Evidence from abroad against Thor was said to be important for successful outcomes of litigations.

In 1994, after seven workers died at the plant, the South African government prohibited the plant from operating. Since then stockpiled mercury waste has been sitting on the property and has leaked chemicals into the environment. Thor closed it mercury-recycling operations in 1997 but did not remove the stored mercury stored on-site. In 2003, the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs handed over a directive to clean up to the management of Thor. In terms of the directive, Thor would have to take specific steps within a specific time to properly and safely store the waste and to clean up all traces of mercury contamination in the surrounding community.

In June 2004, the national Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) commissioned consultants to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Treatment and Disposal of Mercury Waste and Decontamination of the Thor Chemical Site in Cato Ridge. NGOs gW and ELA questioned whether incineration would be used in the final disposal phase. According to gW, the wheels of justice with regard to holding Thor accountable and protecting the health of people and the environment has been slow. In 1994 the National Department of Health closed Thor’s recovery plant after tests revealed unacceptable levels of mercury in emissions from the incinerator. In the same year, imports of mercury-containing waste ceased to be imported into the Cato Ridge plant. However, the Cato Ridge site still houses over 3,500 tonnes of mercury-containing waste endangering surrounding communities and the environment. Environmental justice has not been fuller achieved.

Unknown impacts of e-waste on human health and the environment
According to the European Environmental Agency, e-waste is growing faster than any other type of waste, with an annual volume close to 40 million metric tonnes globally. Unfortunately, many communities and workers exposed to toxic waste in developing countries do not know the extent of the impacts of toxic waste to human health and their surrounding environments. A Greenpeace analysis of soil and sediment were taken from two electronic wastes scrap yards in Ghana in 2008 revealed severe contamination with hazardous chemicals. The report ‘Chemical contamination at e-waste recycling and disposal sites in Ghana’, noted with concern the extent of environmental contamination caused by recycling and disposal of e-waste in Ghana from Europe, the United States and Japan. Some of the samples contained toxic metals including lead in quantities as much as one hundred times above levels found in uncontaminated soil and sediment samples. Other chemicals such as phthalates, some which are known to interfere with sexual reproduction, were found in most of the test samples. One sample also contained a high level of chlorinated dioxins, known to promote cancer. There was a concern for Ghanian children’s developmental and reproductive systems, as well as brain development and nervous system impacts.

Other activities that have the potential for impacting on handlers of e-waste include children playing amid heaps of toxic ash from burned electronic waste, unprotected workers brushing cancer-causing carbon black from computer printer cartridges, labourers opening cathode ray tubes containing toxic lead and barium, and widespread burning of plastics that produce dioxins. Other activities include handlers whose work involves sitting by small fires, heating up computer circuit boards to melt the lead-and-tin solder, producing toxic fumes they cannot help but inhale.

Conclusion
Unfortunately, the impacts of toxic waste are usually borne by poor people, whom in addition to already experiencing high levels of poverty that impact on their health; have to deal with added chemical and toxic exposures that further reduce their quality of life. Hazardous waste disposal sites generally expose large populations to toxins. Communities exposed to such toxins are almost always required to also provide evidence for the burdens they are exposed to even though impacts on health may or may not be clearly visible. In fact, many of the impacts to health may take years to fully materialise due to the bioaccumulatory nature of toxic chemicals exposure. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights notes that toxic waste affects the human right to health, both physical and mental, and the human rights to clean water, food, adequate housing and work. Unfortunately, poor communities in Africa do not have the resources to fight against multinational corruption and dumping of toxic waste into communities. It is ultimately up to civil society organisations and governments who must provide the necessary education to inform people about impacts of toxic waste on human health and the environment. In addition, the global community must stop toxic waste and illegal toxic waste disposal. However, what are the solutions to eliminate the production of toxic waste and waste trafficking and disposal for Africa? This will be addressed in final Part 3 of this research series.

Leonard, L. (2009) The environmental and human health impacts of Waste: Responses towards environmental justice for Africa, Research Series – Part 2, Ugandan Parliamentary Briefing, United Kingdom, 13 March.

The politics of waste and transboundary movement of waste into Africa Research Series: Part 1

This paper is one of a three-part research series exploring the transboundary movement of toxic waste from developed to developing countries. This first part research series traces some of the reasons for the movement of toxic waste from northern to southern countries, focusing especially on waste imports into the African continent. International and regional African policy efforts to help control the shipment of toxic waste across nation states are highlighted (i.e. Basel and Bamako Conventions). The failure of some of these political responses to control transboundary movement of waste is examined. Those factors that serve as an incentive for the transboundary shipment of waste are discussed (i.e. reduced costs for developed nations, weak enforcement and corruption in developing countries, globalisation and criminal networks). This paper builds on research series parts two and three which will explore the impacts of toxic waste trafficking on human health and the environment (Part 2), as well as proposed solutions to eliminate the production of toxic waste and waste trafficking (Part 3).

Introduction
As developed countries increasingly submerge under the pressure of growing consumer waste, developing countries will continue to be used as a dumping ground for the waste of industrialised nations. From 1968 to 1988 alone, more than 3.6 million tonnes of toxic waste solvents, acetone, cobalt, cadmium, chemical and pharmaceutical waste, and perhaps some low-level radioactive waste were shipped to less developed nations. Records of dumping have been recorded since the early 1970’s. Strong environmental movements, the Not-in-My-Backyard (NIMBY) syndrome, and strong legislative responses to hazardous waste disposal in developed countries have drastically increased the costs of hazardous waste management for industry, making the exports of industrial wastes quite attractive. As environmentalism and public opposition to waste siting increased in industrialised countries, cross-national trade in hazardous waste became a common practice in the 1970s and escalated between the 1980s and the 1990s.

Unfortunately, Africa like many other developing nations has been the target for imported waste. Some examples of early imports of hazardous waste into Africa have included the shipment in 1987 of 18,000 barrels of hazardous waste (i.e. polychlorinated biphenyls) into Nigeria from the Italian companies Ecomar and Jelly Wax, which agreed to pay a local farmer $100 per month for storage. Thor Chemicals Inc of Great Britain, a mercury processing plant, which relocated to South Africa in the late 1970’s was also accused in 1987 of importing waste into Durban, resulting in severe human health and environmental impacts. (Refer to research Series Part 2: Case study on Thor Chemicals for human health and environmental impacts). In 1997, a few European companies’ dumped 10 million tonnes of toxic waste in Southern Somalia in exchange for $80 million. The alleged perpetrators were Italian and Swiss firms who supposedly entered into a contract with the Somali government during the civil war to dump waste in the war-ravaged African nation. For the past 15 years, the coast of Somalia has been used as an illegal dumping ground for several European companies who have dumped their most toxic substances including nuclear and chemical wastes into Somalia’s waters.

Developed countries produce more toxic waste than they are willing to handle and the price of unsustainable development is being paid by the poorest populations on the globe. Most of the hazardous waste produced in the world has been from developed countries. Commonly exported hazardous wastes include acids, asbestos, automobile scrap, computer/electronic scrap, banned pesticides and agrochemicals, hospital waste, dioxins containing wastes from fossil fuel electric power stations, scrap tires, scrap PVCs, mercury waste, lead acid batteries, and metallic and galvanic sludge’s, all known to be lethal. Other wastes imported to developing countries include raw sewage, sludge, incinerated ashes, and contaminated oils, chemical substances, acids, poisonous solvents ejected by chemical, pharmaceutical, and fertiliser producing plants. The United States generates 85% of the world’s hazardous wastes, while European Union countries generate about 10% of the world total, amounting to a staggering 95% of the world’s hazardous wastes produced by industrialised nations. Annually, more than 50 percent of the officially acknowledged volume of exported hazardous waste is channelled to less developed nations. The number of countries involved in export and import schemes, volume of trade, and properties of materials involved are often difficult to establish due to the covert and criminal nature of the transactions. This illegal dumping represents an enormous source of profits for criminal organisations, corrupt politicians and unscrupulous businessmen, both in African and developed countries. However, in recent years, the remuneration for firms in industrialised countries has increased even further, as they have been able to sell toxic waste to African countries under the label of ‘second-hand goods.’

Waste Politics:
International and African efforts to control transboundary movement of waste
The problem of transboundary movements of waste into Africa has become a major international environmental and trade issue. This prompted a number of political attempts to regulate and monitor the international transport of hazardous waste. The Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (1989) is the first global attempt to regulate and monitor the transboundary movement of hazardous waste. The Convention entered into force on 5 May 1992. At the Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention, the global community agreed by consensus to forbid developing countries from importing hazardous wastes. On March 25, 1994, the Basel Convention took an unprecedented and historic step and adopted consensus on a global ban on the export of hazardous wastes from the wealthiest and high waste producing countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to all other countries. Unfortunately, of 168 signatory states of the Basel Convention, only 68 countries have ratified the convention. A key player, the United States which produces 85% of hazardous waste has still not ratified the convention (Figure 1). This inevitably strikes a blow at its universal character. However ratification by some of the most waste intensive producing countries is not the only problem to the importation of toxic waste into Africa, a key loophole in the Basel Convention is that it allows waste to be exported to the less industrialised countries if the waste is destined for ‘recycling’ (i.e. dumping), with much waste trade involving some false pretext of recycling. Despite the efforts of the Basel Convention some participatory countries have continued to export toxic waste to less developed countries.

An African effort to control the movement of hazardous waste into Africa has been the Bamako Convention on the Ban of import into Africa and the control of transboundary movement and management of hazardous waste within Africa (1991). This Convention actually emerged during the negotiation of the Basel Convention when the African states represented by the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) adopted the Bamako Convention, as they were of the view that Basel was not strict enough regarding the total ban on exporting hazardous wastes into Africa and other relevant regional aspects. The Bamako Convention later went into force in 1996. The Bamako Convention has helped to stem partially toxic waste flowing into Africa. In the early 1980s, Africa was regarded as an easy target for the dumping of a whole range of hazardous materials, including industrial, pharmaceutical and radioactive wastes, as well as banned pesticides and toxic incinerator ash. Since African countries entered the Bamako agreement banning all waste imports, the international toxic traders have directed most of their efforts elsewhere (i.e. Since 1990, Australian, North American and European countries have shipped over 5 million tonnes of toxic wastes to Asia, mostly “scrap metal”, but also including large quantities of plastic and lead wastes, cadmium, aluminium, copper, tin, nickel, zinc, ash and residues, medical wastes, electronic-waste and other hazardous and radioactive wastes.) Nevertheless, the importation of waste into Africa continues to be a major problem.

Despite these significant attempts to curb the transboundary movement of waste (as above), the market for toxic waste has continued to treat Africa like a dump. This calls into question the efficacy of the current legal frameworks to tackle problems. Other recent global policy initiatives related to the transboundary movement of hazardous waste include the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) adopted in 2001, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, and the the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) adopted in 2006. SAICM is a policy framework to foster the sound management of chemicals and to ensure that by the year 2020, ensuring chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimise significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health. It remains to be seen if these new initiatives will help stem the flow of hazardous waste imports into Africa, considering that previous global agreements have not been adhered to by some countries (i.e. In 2000 South Africa imported hazardous wastes from Australia in defiance of Basel Convention against such exports). And while initiatives such as SAICM are welcome, this policy tool is a non-binding agreement. Since even ratifying parties to the binding Basel have previously defied this agreement, one needs to questions if non-binding agreements will make any difference to help stem waste trafficking. However, the objective of SAICM which is to change how chemicals are produced and used in order to minimise harmful effects on human health and the environment is a fresh approach to help curb the production of toxic waste. These and other initiatives to help reduce toxic waste production will be discussed more in part three of this research series.

Despite efforts such as the Basel and Bamako Convention to stop toxic waste trafficking, toxic waste disposal still occurs in Africa. Reports in 2006 highlighted tonnes of poisonous chemical sludge dumped at various sites around the port city of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire when waste was offloaded from the Probo Koala, a tanker registered in Panama that had been chartered by a Dutch-based oil trader. A joint undercover investigation by Greenpeace, The Independent, and Sky News, revealed in February 2009, that tonnes of toxic electronic wastes such as computers and televisions from British municipal dumps are being illegally shipped to Nigeria despite the European Union’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EU WEE) directive which calls for safe disposal of such waste. According to The independent, hundreds of thousands of discarded items, which under British law must be dismantled or recycled by specialist contractors, are being packaged into cargo containers and shipped to countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, where they are stripped of their raw metals by young men between 15 and 20 years and children working on poisoned waste dumps.

Under WEEE, IT manufacturers are legally responsible for the safe disposal of their products and are obliged to ensure all products are disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner themselves or sign up with a government-approved waste-handling firm. Experts claim the legislation “lacks teeth” and its enforcement body, the Environment Agency, is badly underfunded. The Environment Agency has no staff to oversee those who knowingly flout the WEEE directive. This further highlights WEEE weaknesses in controlling imports of waste into Africa. Unfortunately, obsolete computers, mobile phones and electronic appliances containing toxic substances have been sold by industries claiming to promote the “digitalization” of Africa. The large majority of these devices, however, are no longer usable when they reach the continent and end up in open-air dumping sites, where waste-pickers burn them to extract metals such as copper or aluminium. In Nigeria, 75 % of the imported second-hand computing equipment are neither economically repairable nor saleable. Then, having been dismantled to extract precious metals, these types of equipment join unchecked discharges where they are burned.

Reduced costs for developed nations: An easy way out
African nations have been used as the dumping sites for hazardous toxic waste materials from developed countries that are out to reduce the costs of disposing or recycling these by-products of industries. Caught in a stranglehold by economic hardship, many African nations have been lured by the potential financial gains, which in some cases have exceeded the GDP of many poor countries, of importing hazardous waste from the West. Although they lack adequate installations of dangerous waste treatment, numerous African countries (Benin, Congo-Brazzaville, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Nigeria, Togo, Somalia and others) imported whole cargoes of toxic (industrial sludge, cyanides, solvents, pesticides, pharmaceutical waste) and even nuclear waste at very low prices of between 2.5 and 40 dollars a ton against about 75 – 300 dollars, the cost of elimination in industrial nations. In 2001 it was estimated by a United States government official that it would cost from $250 to $300 a tonne to dispose of toxic wastes within the country, whereas some developing countries would accept the same wastes for as little as $40 per tonne. The US frequently exports waste to developing countries, allowing producers and consumers to take advantage of very low labour costs and less stringent environmental and occupational regulations. Reports showed that as of April 2006, 500 loads of computer equipment were arriving in Lagos, Nigeria each month. As much as 75 percent of the incoming equipment mostly from governmental entities in the United States is unusable and are simply dumped. Unfortunately, industries dump hazardous electronic waste in Africa under the guise of charity.

Weak enforcement and corruption in developing countries
Strong legislative and enforcement in responses to hazardous waste disposal in developed countries have drastically increased the costs of waste disposal for the northern industry. Weak legislation and enforcement, as well as corrupt government officials in some southern countries, has resulted in northern industries exporting their waste to these countries for disposal. The level of corruption was noted during the report on poisonous chemical sludge dumped at various sites around the port city of Abidjan (as above). The report into the dumping points an accusatory finger at corrupt and indifferent officials, and the local company contracted to handle the waste. The government-appointed commission of inquiry also charged top officials with negligence and divided responsibility all along the administrative chain of command down to the level of local authorities. Abidjan port management also was noted to have ‘displayed notorious complicity’ with the polluters. The Ivorian company called Tommy agreed to dispose of the waste for under $20,000 (€15,000), which was sixteen times cheaper than officials in the Netherlands were going to charge the polluters. Officials from African countries may also be unlikely to address waste disposal problems as they must often turn a blind eye to environmental abuses to successfully compete for foreign investment. The complicity of some government officials may sometimes be bought by bribery. Since southern countries are passive, powerless or negligible actors in global environmental policy formulation and implementation, environmental burdens are continuously channelled to the Third World with a path of least or no resistance. Another factor that makes the current pattern of toxic waste dumping quite prevalent and attractive to multinational corporations (MNCs) is poverty or desperation to accept pollution for cash in many poor countries. Unfortunately, the short-term economic gains by both MNCs and the hosts generally overshadow the long-term adverse environmental and public health consequences.

Globalisation and criminal networks
Criminal networks have benefited from the toxic waste trade and have helped accelerate waste imports into Africa. Criminal networks are increasingly free of geographic constraints. Globalisation has not only expanded illegal markets and boosted the size and the resources of criminal networks but it has also imposed more burdens on governments. In Italy, the transportation and illegal trafficking of toxic waste is widely acknowledged. The word ’eco-mafia’ was created to describe organised criminal networks that profit from dumping or illegally disposing of commercial, industrial or radioactive waste. The ‘ecomafia’ sometimes hide behind a legal front in the waste treatment industry. From emission to final disposal this trade involves many other players, including shipping agents and brokers. Waste may pass through several countries, making it all the more difficult to pinpoint responsibilities. The prime victims are developing countries and conflict zones. In Italy, an estimated 30% of the special waste processing business is thought to be owned by the ‘ecomafia’ who win contracts quite legally and take care of waste by dumping it mainly in Africa. Eco-crime in Italy involves 202 organised groups, with €22.4 thousand million revenue in 2005. Though profit is the main incentive, the limited risks are also attractive. Environmental offences are not a priority and police pressure is consequently lower. Clearly, a much more united international effort is needed to combat criminal networks that deal in toxic waste trading that impact on developing nations like Africa.

Conclusion
Unfortunately, Africa like many other developing countries will continue to be used as a dumping ground for the increased consumerism waste of developed nations. This is considering that global waste generation was about 12.7 billion tonnes in 2000, and is expected to rise to about 19.0 billion tonnes in 2025 and to about 27.0 billion tonnes in 2050. The world’s consumption of primary energy (and hence waste production) is forecast to increase by around 50 percent between the years 2003 to 2030. As long as world leaders, especially in developed nations, continue to ignore important agreements to control the production of waste and the control of transboundary waste flows, import of waste into Africa and other developed countries will continue for decades to come. It will be important that African leaders through the OAU create an international voice for themselves and apply pressure on developed nations such as the US, which produces most of the toxic waste globally, to ratify the Basel Convention and its Ban Amendment. African leaders should not allow the importation of toxic waste into Africa since the continent should not be used as a dumping ground for the waste of developed economies that further trap poor nations into economic, health and environmental hardships. This must also include a process whereby a national task force is put in place to root out corruption and opportunism in African countries that help facilitate toxic waste trafficking, impacting on the health and environment for local populations. However, what are the problems for human health and the environment for transboundary movements of toxic waste in developing nations? This will be addressed in part 2 of this research series.

Leonard, L. (2009) The politics of waste and the transboundary movement of waste into Africa, Research Series – Part 1, Ugandan Parliamentary Briefing, Royal African Society, United Kingdom, 6 March.

Solutions towards eliminating waste and the transboundary movement of toxic waste Research Series: Part 3

This paper is the final part of a three-part research series exploring the transboundary movement of toxic waste from developed to developing countries and waste disposal. Part one highlighted some of the reasons for the movement of toxic waste from northern to southern countries, focusing especially on waste imports into the African continent. Part two examined some of the environmental and human health effects of transboundary waste movements and disposal in Africa. This final paper looks at some solutions towards eliminating waste and its impacts on people and the environment. If focuses on some international policy efforts to stem the producing of toxic waste, including complementary initiatives such as the Africa Stockpile Programme (ASP) aimed at cleaning up hazardous waste previously dumped in Africa. It also examines technological disposal treatments for toxic waste including comparing both thermal and non-thermal treatment options. The paper finally examines cleaner production (CP) and life cycle assessment (LCA) techniques, which can be used by industry to eliminate toxic waste at source. Recommendations for African governments are highlighted.

Introduction
Northern countries generate an enormous volume of toxic waste, which is either impossible or extremely costly to recycle. As noted in research series part one, the United States generates 85% of the world’s hazardous wastes, while European Union countries generate about 10% of the world total, amounting to a staggering 95% of the world’s hazardous wastes produced by industrialised nations. This has resulted in large amounts of toxic waste being shipped illegally to third world countries, especially Africa. This practice has resulted in enormous amounts of destruction to both human health and the environment. This illegal dumping has resulted in enormous sources of profits for criminal organisations (e.g. Italian ‘ecomafia’), corrupt politicians and unscrupulous businessmen, both in African and developed countries. This environmental injustice, especially on the poorest populations in Africa cannot go on without end. The prohibition on toxic waste exports involves reducing toxic waste generation to a minimum and ensuring that the disposal of any waste produced is done in an environmentally sound way, and as near as possible to the source of generation. This will also require adhering to agreements and restrictions imposed on toxic waste production and exports/imports, and commitments from governments globally to work together to limit and eventually eliminate the impacts imposed by waste and waste trafficking.

International efforts to alleviate waste impacts on people and the environment
Recognition of the risks that hazardous waste poses to the human health and the environment has led to significant progress at the international level to address problems. In addition to the Basel and Bamako Convention outlined in Research Series: Part 1, there have also been other initiatives to limit the impact of toxic waste on human health and the environment. The Rotterdam Convention (1998) on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade entered into force in 2004. The aim of the convention is to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties regarding the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm. The convention also aims to contribute to the environmentally sound use of hazardous chemicals, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, and by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties. The convention creates legally binding obligations for the implementation of the PIC procedure and covers pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted for health or environmental reasons by Parties, and which have been notified by Parties for inclusion in the PIC procedure.

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is also a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods. The Stockholm Convention (2001) entered into force 2004 and requires Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. However, as research series part 1 noted, despite significant policy attempts to curb the transboundary movement of waste, the market for toxic waste has continued to treat Africa like a dump, calling into question the efficacy of the current legal frameworks to tackle problems. Some of the most polluting industrial countries (i.e. the US) responsible for producing most toxic waste impacting on Africa have also not ratified some of these important conventions. (Refer to research series part two for recent examples of transboundary movement of waste into Africa and impacts on human health and the environment).

Programmes to rid Africa of toxic waste
The Africa Stockpiles Programme (ASP)
An initiative to rid Africa of toxic waste through identification, containment, treatment and disposal has been the ASP. The ASP’s has a dual goal of removing stockpiles of hazardous waste, especially obsolete pesticides from Africa while investing in systems to prevent a recurrence of the problem. The ASP was initiated in 2000 by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) at the same time negotiations for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) (above) were coming to a close. The ASP aims to address the accumulation of obsolete pesticide stockpiles across the African continent. The ASP was initiated to clean up stockpiled pesticides and pesticide-contaminated waste (e.g. containers and equipment) in Africa in an environmentally sound manner; catalyse the development of prevention measures; and provide capacity building and institutional strengthening on important chemicals-related issues. Africa’s stockpiles of poisonous chemicals have been accumulating over the past 40 years and longer. The problem has been spurred by poor training, weak controls, and aggressive marketing by chemical manufacturers, who sold (and dumped on) African countries more pesticides than they needed. The chemicals mainly include brands such as Dieldron, DDT, and a range of organophosphate pesticides used mainly for crop protection. Stocks of obsolete pesticides currently in Africa are estimated at 50,000 tonnes. Due to the serious threat to the health of both rural and urban populations, especially the poorest of the poor and environmental degradation, African countries were requesting assistance with their pesticides. The ASP started with seven initial countries (i.e. Ethiopia, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Tunisia). A multi-stakeholder partnership was established bringing together skills and expertise of multinational organisations, international non-governmental organisations, governments and industry. Mali and South Africa hold the largest stocks of obsolete pesticides in Africa. In South Africa, this is related to the activities of the Apartheid regime while for Mali, government authorities had allowed foreign companies to keep large stocks of these products in their country.

Disposal of Obsolete stocks – a move away from incineration in Africa
In January 2003 the author attended a workshop held by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) for the development of a National Implementation Plan (NIP) for the management of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and strategies to clean up and prevent future accumulation of unwanted stocks of pesticides under the ASP. Of concern was that under the section “Disposal Phase”, non-burn technologies were not included as an option, with incinerator vendors present at the meeting and given an opportunity to market their combustion treatment. From the very beginning of the ASP, civil society groups (internationally and in Africa) have voiced concern about the burning of wastes in incinerators, since incinerators contribute substantially to global pollution by producing deadly poisons such as dioxins and furans. Health effects of incineration as a disposal technology include transferring toxic metals into the human blood stream by inhalation, deposition and absorption, and producing cancer-causing toxins (i.e. dioxins and furans) putting human health and the environment at risks. It would be tragic if Africa was left standing with a new legacy of polluting incinerators (waste itself) set up to destroy an earlier legacy caused by hazardous waste dumped on Africa by aid and trade organisations.

The ASP organised a Stakeholders Forum in Rabat, Morroco, October 17-18, 2007 to discuss progress and expansion of the continent-wide effort aimed at eliminating existing stockpiles of obsolete pesticides and preventing their future accumulation. The Rabat Programme of Action agreed on certain principles (Refer to figure 1). One of the points of agreement was that obsolete stocks would be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. Since incineration is not an environmentally sound option for disposal of hazardous waste; it, therefore, cannot be an option for disposal in Africa. The ASP aims to dispose of pesticides and associated wastes in an ‘environmentally sound’ manner in accordance with national and international laws, including the Stockholm Convention. It will require proof that a candidate disposal facility operates in compliance with these standards. Due to the pollution emitted from incinerators especially in Africa due to lack of strong enforcement and regulation, the toxic ash requiring special containment and disposal in special landfill sites, as well as conventions like Stockholm that recognise incineration as a principle source of cancer-causing dioxin formation makes incineration as a disposal technology unfeasible.

Because of human health and environmental concerns of incineration, there has been a move away from incineration internationally. This is true for countries such as USA, India, Greece, Germany, France, Turkey, Japan, The Netherlands, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Philippines. However, within Africa there have been cases where governments and civil society has refused international efforts to shift this polluting technology into Africa. In 2001, private company, Peacock Bay Environmental Services (PBES) and the United States based company Roy F. Weston proposed to construct a hazardous waste incinerator in Sasolburg, in the Free State Province, South Africa. The incinerator was the largest hazardous waste incinerator proposed in Southern Africa. Due to pressure from civil society, the Free State Department of Environment, Tourism and Economic Affairs rejected the application by PBES on health and procedural grounds. Similarly, a previous Danish Aid Agency, DANIDA proposed to build a permanent hazardous waste incinerator to address Mozambique’s obsolete pesticide problem, was rejected by the Mozambique Ministry of Environment in the early 1990’s. The provincial government Department of Health (DOH) in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban, South Africa also took a policy decision in 2003 to phase out incineration in provincial state hospitals due to civil society concerns over incineration and after successful attempts by a national environmental justice NGO groundWork to help two rural hospitals implement waste reduction programmes, which resulted in impressive cost savings for disposal. One of the largest medical waste incinerators has since been shut down. It is hoped that other African governments will learn from these examples and follow suit to ensure that Africa does not continue to be used as a dumping ground for toxic waste, including obsolete technologies.

Alternative non-combustion technologies
A number of commercialised ‘no-burn’ technologies can destroy POPs, however, non-combustion facilities have not yet bid to handle waste from the stockpiles of hazardous waste under the ASP. This has been due to their current inability to cope with the state of the toxic waste and their inability to offer a service to collect and transport the waste such as are offered by companies running high-temperature incinerators and weakness of the non-combustion waste treatment industry. This suggests a need for more incentive from the government to invest in these types of non-combustion technologies. However, if toxic waste under the ASP is to be disposed off immediately via incineration until non-thermal technologies are strengthened (instead of eventually leaking into the ground), the waste would need to be exported for safe destruction in a developed country such as Europe, which has the resources and strong regulations in place for disposal via incineration. This has also been the position advocated by international environmental organisations during the ASP. However, incineration should only be used to ‘one-off’ dispose of ASP waste and should not create an incentive for other waste to be incinerated. However, three ‘no-burn technologies’ which governments worldwide should support politically include:

Gas phase chemical reduction (GPCR)
The process includes hydrogen reacting with the wastes at 800-900 degrees and at low pressure. This converts the waste to methane, hydrogen chloride and some light hydrocarbons. This takes places in an oxygen-free environment reducing the likelihood of cancer-causing dioxin production. Any dioxin present in the waste should also be destroyed. In tests, this process has been effective at destroying at least 99.999% of the POPs. This process has been in use for the destruction of pesticides and POPs waste for several years and can be used for solid and liquid waste. Because hydrogen is used, rather than oxygen (as in incineration processes), there is no risk of forming dioxins and furans during the GPCR reactions. This technology is currently permitted for use in Canada (Ontario), the United States, Japan and Australia.

Based catalysed decomposition (BCD)
This technology is commonly used for liquid waste. Waste is heated to 300-350 degrees in a nitrogen atmosphere at a normal pressure in the presence of a hydrocarbon mixture. Hydrogen given off by the heated mixture decomposes the pesticides/POPs forming inorganic salts, inert residue and water. Old BCD plants discharged measurable amounts of organochlorines and dioxins to air. The new BCD plants can destroy and remove over 99.99999% of input POPs/pesticides/dioxins and emissions can be captured for reprocessing if necessary.

Sodium reduction (SR)
In this process chlorine from PCBs is completely removed by alkali metal reduction with dispersed sodium in mineral oil. This takes place in a dry nitrogen atmosphere at normal pressure. Currently, there is insufficient data on the efficiency of this process at destroying POPs/pesticides, although the process has met regulatory criteria in the USA, EU, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Japan. This technology has been used for several years to treat PCB-contaminated transformer oil, with mobile plants available.

Greening industry and reducing waste at source:
Clean production (CP) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) techniques
If toxic waste trafficking to developing countries and impacts on human health and the environment are to be avoided then industries and governments globally need to stop the production of toxic waste at source. One of the ways for industry to eliminate toxic waste is to ensure that industries adopt sustainable development principles into existing operations. Sustainable development means adopting business strategies and activities that meet the needs of the enterprise and its stakeholders today while protecting, sustaining and enhancing the human and natural resources that will be needed now and in the future. CP techniques are a way for industries to integrate sustainable business practices, while also remaining competitive. CP is the continuous application of an integrated preventative environmental strategy to processes, products and services to increase overall efficiency. This leads to improved environmental performance, cost savings, and the reduction of risk to humans and the environment. CP should not be considered only as an environmental strategy since it also relates to economic considerations. In this context, waste is considered to be a product with negative economic value. Each action to reduce consumption of raw materials and energy, and reduce waste generation, increases productivity and brings financial benefits to the industry. Much of today’s environmental protection focuses on what to do with wastes and emissions that have already been created, focusing on ‘end-of-pipe’ treatment. As opposed to this notion, the ultimate goal of CP is to avoid generating pollution in the first place.

Pollution prevention approach implementation (i.e. CP) focuses on finding the source of waste and emissions, performing environmental monitoring on site and identifying the cause of pollution and the consumption of other resources used for waste and emission treatment and reduction of operational costs. While Environmental Management Systems such as ISO 14001 are popular, they provide no guarantee that industries will apply pollution prevention approaches. This can be solved by incorporating principles and methods of pollution prevention into Environmental Management System (EMS) structures. This will stimulate any industry to continue searching for preventative improvements and provides opportunities to manage environmental risks in cost effective ways. LCA which is part of CP allows industry to track the environmental impact of products, services throughout their life and to identify areas of environmental damage. In such way, the redesigning of products, production and distribution methods will reduce environmental damage. Thus greening industry can reduce waste at source and avoid waste trafficking into Africa and other developed countries.

For the greening of industry to occur, this must be based on the incorporation of market-based incentives, a broad commitment to public environmental information, and targeted assistance to industries who are trying to improve environmental performance. This will also require partnerships with community representatives taking their place at the negotiating table along with government, industry and civil society generally. Such partnerships will give policymakers more options in solving the toxic waste production crisis. Governments will also need to improve existing legislation and impose new responsibilities for monitoring factories’ environmental performance and enforcing regulations. All of these will require a fundamental shift in attitudes and changing industrial procedures.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
There is also a need for identified toxic waste to be returned to the producer (if identifiable) which is in line with the principle of EPR. EPR imposes accountability over the entire lifecycle of products and packaging introduced on the market. Firms, which manufacture, import and/or sell products and packaging, are required to be financially or physically responsible for such products after their useful life. They must either take back spent products and manage them through reuse and recycling or dispose of them with limited impact to human health and the environment. The producer may also delegate this responsibility to a third party, paid by the producer for spent product management. In this way, EPR shifts responsibility for waste from government and civil society to the private industry, obliging producers, importers and/or sellers to internalise waste management costs in their product prices. However, for EPR to work requires incentive from governments to implement EPR mechanisms and enforced governance and requires governments globally to work together to eventually reduce and eliminate waste.

Benefits of toxic use reduction legislation – the case of Massachusetts, United States
Massachusetts in the US has achieved a significant reduction of hazardous waste through mandatory company planning. This legislation and training programme has become a model for pollution prevention activities around the world. The Toxic Use Reduction Act (TURA) was passed in 1989. The goal of the legislation is to develop toxics use reduction as its primary tool for industrial pollution control while enhancing the competitive position of Massachusetts enterprises. The first goal was to reduce toxic waste generation by 50 percent through toxics use reduction over a 10 year period (1987-1997). Under the TURA, firms that use any of a list of approximately 800 chemicals in quantities that annually cross a minimum threshold, must annually report publicly on the amount of chemical used and released; pay an annual fee and prepare a plan (updated every two years) on how to reduce or eliminate the use of those chemicals. The chemicals must be certified by a licensed Toxics Use Reduction Planner. Between 1990 and 1993 all firms cut their toxic waste by 14.5 percent and planned to generate 23 percent less waste in 1998, with the total volume of listed toxic chemicals in the state dropping by 6 percent within the first three years. Together, the twenty-nine firms applying for awards in toxics use reduction had eliminated the use of 2,870 tonnes of toxic chemicals, reduced 750 tonnes of hazardous wastes and saved US$44 million per year.

Conclusion
To halt the importation of toxic waste into Africa, African governments will need to place the interest of local populations and the environment above the economic interest of multinational corporations who dump waste in African countries. African governments and local industries will need to stem out corruption and self-interests if this is to be successful. As noted in research series part one, national task forces must be put in place in African countries to root out corruption and opportunism and that also help facilitate toxic waste trafficking, impacting on the health and environment. It is essential that governments adhere to international and African efforts to control toxic waste production and eventual elimination (i.e. Basel, Bamako, and Stockholm Convention) including parallel efforts designed to reduce and eliminate waste (i.e. SAICM, ASP). Despite the increase in toxic waste trafficking since the introduction of many international policy efforts, there is still a need for governments globally to respect efforts to stem toxic waste production and trafficking. It is only through collectively following national and international agreements to reduce, halt and eliminate waste that the problems of toxic waste can be solved. African leaders through the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) must create an international voice and apply pressure on developed nations such as the US, which produces most of the toxic waste globally, to ratify the Basel Convention and its Ban Amendment.

African governments must also ensure that incineration is not allowed as an option for disposal of toxic waste and waste generally in Africa, rather there is a need to move towards non-thermal treatment techniques which will require political and policy incentives. African governments should refuse any attempts for obsolete technological shifts from northern to southern countries. Rather there is a need to go to the root of toxic waste problems and design national legislation to reduce waste at source and compel multinationals operating in their countries (and local industry) to introduce and demonstrate sustainable business strategies. Northern governments will also need to hold industry to account and compel industry to reduce and eliminate toxic waste in production processes. However, this will also require market-based incentives, and increased partnerships and transparency between industry, government and civil society. Such partnerships will give governments and policymakers more options in solving the toxic waste and pollution crisis impacting on human health and the environment. However, governments will need to improve governance structures through improved monitoring of factories’ for environmental performance and by enforcing regulations.

Civil society organisations and governments (and industry) must provide education to inform people about the impacts of toxic waste on human health and the environment to help reduce impacts and identify potential risks. Whether toxic waste trafficking will be eliminated in the future remains to be seen, but as long as there is a lack of altruistic values and attitudes towards human society and nature we will continue to witness toxic waste production and trafficking. As American environmentalist, Aldo Leopold noted, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect”. Ultimately, in addition to international policy efforts there is a need for many behavioural changes by industries to implement cleaner production and life cycle assessment techniques that aim to reduce and eliminate waste and toxic waste impacts to humans and the environment, or else it may be too late for the environment and humanity at large. As previous Secretary General of the U.N – U. Thant stated in 1970, “…we must ask ourselves seriously whether we really wish some future universal historian on another planet to say about us: “With all their genius and with all their skill, they ran out of foresight and air and food and water and ideas,” or, “They went on playing politics until their world collapsed around them.””

Leonard, L. (2009) Solutions towards eliminating the impacts of waste and transboundary movement of waste: Cases from the Africa continent, Research Series – Part 3, Ugandan Parliamentary Briefing, United Kingdom, 17 March.

The 2008 financial crisis: Implications for developing economies

This paper examines the 2008 financial crisis and implications for developing countries, especially for Africa. It examines some of the causes of the financial crisis especially in the United States where the dilemma originated. Implications for a global recession and impacts for Africa are highlighted. However, the implications of the financial crisis for the African continent cannot be addressed in detail in this paper; rather this paper will focus on a few key examples of the financial crisis and its impacts on a few African countries for understanding. The paper ends with recommendations and ways forward for African governments to combat the current and future financial impacts.

Introduction
The term financial crisis is applied broadly to a variety of situations in which some financial institutions or assets suddenly lose a large part of their value. Situations that are often called financial crises include stock market crashes (i.e. a sudden dramatic decline of stock prices) and the bursting of other financial bubbles (i.e. trading in high volumes at prices that are considerably at variance with the value of a property of a good or a commodity), and currency crises (i.e. when the value of a currency changes quickly, undermining its ability to serve as a medium of exchange) to name a few. Examples of commodities include crude oil, wheat, precious metals, property as well as currencies which are the unit of exchange that facilitates the transfer of goods and/or services. The world financial system is a complex collection of institutions established with the intention of bringing together people who want to borrow and those who want to lend to ensure and enhance the transfer of funds. The world financial crisis could thus be viewed as a systematic meltdown of the various institutions as well as constituents of the world’s complex financial system. The 2008 financial crisis was mostly related to flawed regulatory regimes and sub-prime mortgage lending, especially in the United States. However, the developing world in general and Africa in particularly has always been most affected by almost every other global economic crisis that has occurred in recent history, although the 2008 financial crisis has so far, not had such an immediate impact on the developing countries, including those in Africa.

Much has been reported on the 2008 financial crisis which was stated by many to be the worst since the Great Depression in 1929. The Great Depression was an economic slump in North America, Europe, and other industrialised areas of the world that began in 1929 and lasted until 1939. It began with a catastrophic collapse of stock-market prices on the New York Stock Exchange and during the next three years, stock prices in the United States continued to fall. By late 1932 prices had dropped to only about 20 percent of their value in 1929. By 1933, 11,000 of the United States’ 25,000 banks had closed. The failure of so many banks, combined with a general and nationwide loss of confidence in the economy, led to much-reduced levels of spending and demand and hence of production, thus aggravating the downward spiral. The Depression hit hardest those nations that were most deeply indebted to the United States (i.e. Germany and Great Britain). In Germany, unemployment rose sharply beginning in late 1929 and by early 1932 it had reached 6 million workers or 25 percent of the workforce. Britain was less severely affected, but its industrial and export sectors remained seriously depressed until World War II. Many other countries had been affected by the slump by 1931. Developing countries that were dependent on the export of primary products, such as those in Latin America, were already suffering a depression in the late 1920s. More efficient farming methods and technological changes meant that the supply of agricultural products was rising faster than demand, and prices were falling as a consequence. Initially, the governments of the producer countries stockpiled their products, but this depended on loans from the USA and Europe. When these were recalled, the stockpiles were released onto the market, causing prices to collapse and the income of the primary producing countries to fall drastically. Clearly, with the 2008 financial crisis, world governments (especially the industrialised nations) did not learn lessons from the Great Depression. However, the current financial crisis is not necessarily following the pattern of the Great Depression, since the two disasters are very different, although lessons could have been learnt from this incident.

Causes of the 2008 financial crisis?
It is clear that the United States as during the Great Depression is indisputably undergoing a financial crisis and is perhaps headed for a deep recession, but what caused the financial crisis of 2008? The answer to this question is multi-fold including the introduction of trade liberalisation policies by the global elite, financial speculation and personal greed by many individuals and organisations. Firstly, financial liberalisation was implemented by global elite states across the world to assist corporations to find new ways of making money, which has contributed to the financial crisis. By the 1970s, profits in the manufacturing sector were declining, the economy was stagnating, and the elite wanted more profitable ways to make money that didn’t require hiring much workforce. A need to reduce investments in manufacturing for profit gain was required. With declining profits, capital reacted by promoting economic restructuring with the aim of increasing profit margins at the expense of workers’ wages, reduced social welfare spending, squeezing underdeveloped countries with the help of the IMF. Elites begin speculating on anything, including commodities and gambled on the fluctuations in stock, bond and currency values. Banks and corporations ran up trillions in debt and then resold this debt onto investors to reduce risk. Indeed, debt drove the whole system and without it, there would not have been the explosion in the financial sector. Manufacturing companies also restructured and, in a sense, became investment and financial institutions in their own right. Blind greed, arrogance and short-sightedness drove this system and a handful of people made trillions.

Another reason for the financial crisis was precipitated by government manipulations and greed by lenders. From January 2001 to June 2004, the Federal Reserve System (i.e. Fed) sharply lowered the interest rate for federal funds. In response, mortgage rates plummeted from almost 8 percent in 2002 to 4-6 percent in 2006. Hence, banks issued mortgages to all kinds of buyers and speculators, some of whom were allowed to put down no collateral for risky home loans. Mortgage lenders were happy to lend money to people who couldn’t afford their mortgages. A mortgage is a secured loan used to purchase property and is financially agreed between the lender and borrower. One of the largest mortgage lenders in the US, Countrywide, founded in 1969 offered exotic mortgages to borrowers with a questionable ability to repay them. Generally, lenders who approved these loans absolved themselves of responsibility by packaging these bad mortgages with other mortgages and reselling them as “investments.” Lenders had no reason not to sell homes as they made a cut on the sale, then packaged the mortgage with a group of other mortgages and erased all personal responsibility of the loan. Thousands of people took out loans larger than they could afford in the hopes that they could either make a profit from the house or refinance later at a lower rate. A lot of people got rich quickly and people wanted more. Lenders lent money regardless because there was supposedly no risk to them, and were able to charge higher interest rates and make more money on sub-prime loans. If the borrower’s default, they simply seized the house and put it back on the market. On top of that, they were able to pass the risk off to a mortgage insurer or package these mortgages as mortgage-backed securities. Higher house values mean that lenders could lend out even bigger mortgages, and it also gave lenders some protection against foreclosures. All of this translates into more money for the lenders, insurers, and investors. When too many buyers couldn’t afford to make their payments, it causes these lenders to suffer from liquidity issues and to sit on more foreclosures than they could sell.

However, the US economy is more complex than made out to be, so blame should not fall only on a single sector. The problem is one of layered irresponsibility between many parties. Those alleged to be at fault include the following: The US Federal Reserve (as above), which slashed interest rates making credit cheap; Home buyers, who took advantage of easy credit to bid up the prices of homes excessively; Congress, which continues to support a mortgage tax deduction that gives consumers a tax incentive to buy more expensive houses; Real estate agents, most of whom work for the sellers rather than the buyers and who earned higher commissions from selling more expensive homes; The Clinton administration, which pushed for less stringent credit and down payment requirements for working and middle-class families; Mortgage brokers, who offered less-credit-worthy home buyers subprime, adjustable rate loans with low initial payments, but exploding interest rates; Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who in 2004, near the peak of the housing bubble, encouraged Americans to take out adjustable rate mortgages; Wall Street firms, who paid too little attention to the quality of the risky loans that they bundled into Mortgage Backed Securities, and issued bonds using those securities as collateral; The then Bush administration, which failed to provide needed government oversight of the increasingly dicey mortgage-backed securities market; An obscure accounting rule called mark-to-market, which can have the paradoxical result of making assets be worth less on paper than they are in reality during times of panic; Collective delusion, or a belief on the part of all parties that home prices would keep rising forever, no matter how high or how fast they had already gone up. However, not to divert from the root cause of the problem which has been the functionality of the financial and banking system, along with the roles of the US capitalist government in this functionality. Unfortunately, in the UK and US government is using tax payer’s money to help out greedy bankers. Example, the US government also agreed that the Federal Reserve would supply $85 billion to bail out American International Group (AIG), the world’s largest insurance company. Since mortgage lenders have made substantial sums of money leading to the crisis, does this mean that they will get away? Why should taxpayers have to pay for somebody else’s mess? Do developing countries such as in Africa also indirectly pay for the failings of banks?

Impacts on developing countries
What began as a slump in the US housing sector is now a global crisis, spreading to both developed and developing economies. The poorest countries, including many in Africa, will be significantly affected by the crisis even though the channels of transmission are likely quite different from those operating in emerging markets. Financial sectors in low-income countries are less integrated into global financial markets; as a result, the direct impact of the crisis is likely to be more limited. However, this does not mean that they will not be affected.

As Dadush (2008), Director of Development Prospects Group noted:
“The direct impact of the crisis is less dramatic in the financial sectors of the poorest countries…but they will be hit nevertheless by slower export growth. Global trade is expected to decline by 2.5 percent in 2009 reduced remittances by migrant workers, and lower commodity prices that will affect commodity-exporting countries.”

Developing countries at first sheltered from the worst elements of the turmoil are now much more vulnerable, with dwindling capital flows, huge withdrawals of capital leading to losses in equity markets, and towering interest rates. GDP growth in developing countries only recently expected to increase by 6.4 percent in 2009 is now likely to be only 4.5 percent, according to economists at the World Bank. The poorest countries will be harmed through slower export growth (e.g. Cameroon’s exports of wood to the US have collapsed, putting over 40,000 jobs at risk). Other impacts for developing countries include reduced remittances, and lower commodity prices (which will reduce incomes in commodity exporters). The crisis may also lead to a reduction in private investment flows, making weak economies even less able to cope with internal vulnerabilities and development needs. According to the World Bank, the effects of financial crisis on the African continent could manifest through drying up of liquidity and capital inflows, aids programmes and trade. Many African banks that may be planning to seek funds from the developed economies may not be able to source capital. Some developing countries will be hit much harder than the average experiencing growth which is negative in per capita or even absolute terms. Sharply tighter credit conditions and weaker growth are likely to cut into African government revenues and governments’ ability to invest to meet education, health and gender goals to name a few. The poor will be hit hardest. Current estimates suggest that a one percent decline in developing country economic growth rates traps an additional 20 million people into poverty. Already 100 million people have been driven into poverty as a result of high food and fuel prices. Of the 20 developing countries whose economies have reacted most sharply to the deterioration in conditions (as measured by exchange rate depreciation, increase in spreads, equity market declines and large current account deficits), seven come from Europe and Central Asia, and eight from Latin America. Africa, however, is still very vulnerable to the economic crisis being one of the poorest continents in the world.

Food, fuel and job insecurity in Africa
High food prices from 2007 through mid-2008 also had serious implications for food and nutrition security, macroeconomic stability, and political security. The global financial crisis and economic slowdown have pushed food prices to lower levels by decreasing demand for agricultural commodities for food, feed, and fuel. The availability of capital has also decreased at a time when accelerated investment in agriculture is urgently needed. The food and financial crises have strong and long-lasting effects on emerging economies and poor people. As capital becomes scarcer and more expensive, the expansion of agricultural production to address the food crisis has been cut short. Africa is on the receiving end of food tariffs and subsidies by the US, EU and Japan and this has distorted the economics of its food production and caused some viable crops not to be grown locally. The price of petrol has roughly doubled in the past year and in addition to the direct effects on the cost of travel, there are knock-on effects on the price of products, such as food, which need to be transported. The world financial crisis has pushed aside the attention of policymakers from the threat of rising food prices. Across the developing world, the purchasing power of poor and middle-income families has declined with slowing economic growth. The collapse of the financial system which held the wealth of individuals and corporations meant an overnight sharp fall in different kinds of incomes, particularly permanent income. These developments resulted in sharp fall in demand (as demand even depends more on permanent income) and corresponding fall in supply and hence production. Cuts in production necessitated cuts in employment as well as income and hence demand. All these have dynamic implications for Africa.

The global financial crisis and the resultant job and food insecurities have affected bushman poaching in Africa due to food shortages. People have turned to wildlife as their source of food because other food sources become inaccessible. Due to the global financial crisis, the logging companies in Cameroon are now retrenching their workers and which has intensified poaching. The spiral of unemployment so created has led the jobless to turn to poaching as an alternative means to survive. The shrinking of demand in richer economies suggests a cut in production levels at plants that are located in Africa, potentially reducing consumption of fuel, metallic and other primary products. Hence, the earnings of African companies (and it’s people – if included in wealth production) will decline.

The global food price crisis in 2007-08
Nigeria and the financial crisis
The persisting global financial meltdown is adversely affecting Nigeria to the extent that the nation’s economy is now in deep crisis. With a sharp drop in market capitalisation on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, this has plummeted government revenues. Nigerian representatives who attended the sixty-third General Assembly, Second Committee 24th Meeting of the United Nations on the 4 November 2008, noted that the financial crisis had compounded matters by inducing fears over aid delivery. The unprecedented fall by 40 per cent in the international prices of oil, attendant of the global financial crunch compounded by the persistent Niger Delta Crisis of Nigeria, signals that, if the global financial meltdown persists, Nigeria could suffer a major setback. The effects of the crises on agricultural and rural development and the economy of Nigeria may contribute to a lack of foreign investments arising from the cash crunch; decaying infrastructures likely to weaken the supply side of the nation’s food market, food unavailability, low rate of domestic food supplies and imports; with reduced foreign exchange earnings from oil, the prospects of the government to invest in agricultural programmes within the next four years is bleak. In addition, there could be the collapse of infrastructures (energy, water, communication and transportation) due to funding inadequacy. Bad economic conditions and high international food prices might result in worsening market conditions in the coming months. There is no doubt that Nigeria’s integration into the world economy and markets due to its oil reserves has placed the country into difficulties. Had Nigeria rather nationalised its natural resources (i.e. oil), the country would have been in a more stable position. The impact of the recession is not uniform across the continent and is dependent on country respective levels of integration into the global economy and position in the international division of labour.

Way forward
Although the financial crisis is affecting African countries, there are some measures that African governments can take to limit future impacts on their nations. There is no doubt that developing country budgets will need to adjust to a new fiscal reality. Therefore it is essential that African governments exercise caution and invest in their countries. Governments need to increase budgets for social development and public expenditure rather than decrease budgets. This will be essential for restoring high-quality economic growth over the longer term. However, in order for this to occur, we need good governance in Africa. This will also be important in developing African responses and solutions that meet the demands of African people instead of corrupt African officials and the interests of western economies. African governments must, therefore, build capacity and fast-track the movement towards the economic and political integration of the continent.

The dependence on commodity export earnings (i.e. oil, agriculture) and potential volatility through global economic instability means that Africa’s approach to the current volatile state of the world’s major economies should be more visionary. Example, benefits of its oil reserves such as in Nigeria and recently Uganda must be secured for the interest of citizens through nationalisation, similar to countries such as Venezuela which has reduced the power of international corporations from extracting resources from the country that do not benefit locals. Similarly for food, instead of Africa being on the receiving end of food tariffs and subsidies by the US, EU and Japan and which has distorted the economics of its food production. It is essential that African government create subsidies for local farmers so that viable crops can be grown locally for people. There must be an explicit recognition of the basic right to sustain food production and promote food sovereignty at the local level through re-nationalisation of agricultural produce and the end to trade-distorting subsidies in developed countries. However, pressure on developed countries for financial assistant and aid must continue due to decades of western corporate resources plundering and increased African poverty, since these finances rightfully belong to Africa and should not be seen as a ‘donation’ from the west. In addition, any debt that African countries are said to own to developed countries through previous loans must be cancelled.

Finally, unlike the United States and other western nations who did not learn from their mistakes of the Great Depression, African governments can learn from the mistakes of the west. If there is a bank failure, government intervention should be via preference shares and loans and not via tax payer’s money that should rightfully be used for the interest of nationals and poverty alleviation. It is essential that African governments increase co-operation within Africa and ensure the development of its people rather that relying on subsidies and trade with western nations under western rules (i.e. IMF/WTO) that pose a risk to national interests. Not to say that there are no benefits that can arise from economic globalisation, but the problem is that when political interest are involved, this can be damaging for poor nations. As Nelson Mandela noted, on November 16, 2000, during a lecture at the British Museum, “…if globalisation is to create real peace and stability across the world, it must be a process benefiting all. It must not allow the most economically and politically powerful countries to dominate and submerge the countries of the weaker and peripheral regions. It should not be allowed to drain the wealth of smaller countries towards the larger ones, or to increase inequality between richer and poorer regions.” Unfortunately, globalisation currently is failing as can be seen from the financial crisis of 2008 as individuals are motivated by self-interest and greed expressed best through the pursuit of financial gains. Globalisation is also failing as signalled through the concerns from citizens globally against an unequal playing field and in the interest of the finance community. It is, therefore, essential that governments look towards African solutions for African problems and listen to its people if the continent is limit the impact of global insecurities and prosper for the interests of its own people.

Leonard, L. (2009) The 2008 financial crisis: Implications for developing economies, Ugandan Parliamentary Briefing, Royal African Society, United Kingdom, 26 February

Emerging trends in regard to Global Warming: Any effective interventions in place or just rhetoric debates / workshops / seminars?

This paper briefly reviews some of the emerging trends regarding global warming, especially implications for the African continent. It then explores some of the meetings and discourses taking place internationally and within Africa on global warming and climate change that aim to tackle the crisis. It critically examines if the two largest international interventions on climate change (e.g. annual conferences/ meetings such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conferences of the Parties (COP) and the Annual G8 summits) have had any effective impacts and interventions in tackling the crisis of global warming. The paper also explores weak African representation at climate change meetings in Africa, as well as domestic political interests (nationally and internationally) that weaken negotiations to combat climate change. Ways forward to strengthen meetings for African governments to move ahead in tackling the crisis are provided.

Introduction
Global warming in Africa
Global warming refers to an average increase in the Earth’s temperature, which in turn causes climatic changes. A warmer Earth may lead to changes in rainfall patterns, a rise in sea level, and a wide range of impacts on plants, wildlife, and humans. The world ocean has experienced a net warming of 0.06 degrees Celsius from the sea surface to a depth of 3000 meters over the past 35-45 years. More than half of the increase in heat content has occurred in the upper 300 meters, which has warmed by 0.31 degrees Celsius. Warming is occurring in all ocean basins and at much deeper depths than previously thought. Scientists predict that the oceans are taking up the excess heat as the atmosphere warms. Unfortunately, Africa is the continent that will suffer most under climate change and global warming. The continent of Africa warmed by 0.5 degrees Celsius during the past century, and the five warmest years in Africa has all occurred since 1988. In addition to developed industrialised nations such as the United States continuing to spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the penetration of multinational corporations from these developed nations into Africa due to rapid economic globalisation have also set up operations and extracted the continents fossil fuels and wealth while simultaneously emitting further greenhouse gases. The tragedy is that Africa has played virtually no role in global warming with the problem caused mainly by the economic activity of the rich northern industrial countries. For example, Africa’s carbon dioxide emissions, predominantly from the energy and transport industries, amount to approximately 650 million tonnes per annum, which is even less than Germany, which emits approximately 800 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The main sources are power generation from coal in South Africa (approximately 350 million tonnes) and gas flaring in the Niger Delta (approximately 100 million tonnes). The majority of African countries emit only minimal quantities of 0.1-0.3 tonnes of CO2 per inhabitant. The US produces 24% of the world’s CO2 emissions yet has only 4.5% of the world’s population.

The impacts of global warming on the African continent are widespread and have varied in African countries to experience either extreme rainfall or extreme drought. Southern Africa experienced its warmest and driest decade on record from 1985-1995. Average temperature increased almost 0.5 degrees Celsius over the past century. Extreme rains and floods have also made for a very wet summer in Africa. Since June 2007, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya have had hundreds of thousands of people uprooted from their homes, with many having died. West Africa has seen its worst floods in years since 2007, with 300,000 fleeing the earth-coloured waters of northern Ghana. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that the effects of global warming are already being felt in Africa. The IPCC’s has predicted a minimum 2.5-degree centigrade increase in the continent’s temperature by 2030.

Impacts of global warming around Africa have been devastating. Cairo, Egypt witnessed heat waves and periods of unusually warm weather in 1998. Senegal has also experienced coastal flooding due to ocean warming and sea-level rise, which is causing the loss of coastal land at Rufisque, on the South Coast of Senegal. In Lake Chad, Nigeria, the surface area of the lake has decreased from 9,650 square miles (25,000 km2) in 1963 to 521 (1,350 km2) today. Modelling studies indicate the severe reduction results from a combination of reduced rainfall and increased demand for water for agricultural irrigation and other human needs. Since the 1990’s, in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda, the glacier area has decreased by about 75%. The ice caps on the Rwenzori Mountains have receded to 40 percent of their 1955 recorded cover and are set to disappear within the next two decades, affecting wildlife species and increasing the erosive power of River Semliki. The warming of mountainous areas will drastically affect wildlife species. The Mountain Gorilla is under threat. Equally endangered are the Rwenzori leopard and the Rwenzori Red Duiker, which usually live at altitudes above 3,000 meters, corresponding with colder climates. The dwindling of wildlife will affect tourism. Mt. Kenya’s largest glacier is disappearing with ninety-two percent of the Lewis Glacier having melted in the past 100 years. Ice on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, is predicted by scientists to disappear by 2020 with 82 percent of Kilimanjaro’s ice having disappeared since 1912, with about one-third melting in just the last dozen years. At this rate, all of the ice will be gone in about 15 years.

Kenya in 2001 saw the worst drought in sixty years, with over four million people affected by a severely reduced harvest, weakened livestock, and poor sanitary conditions. In the summer of 1997, Kenya also witnessed a deadly malaria outbreak. Hundreds of people died in the Kenyan highlands where the population had previously been unexposed. Around almost the same time in Tanzania, higher annual temperatures in the Usambara Mountains were linked to expanding malaria transmission. In Uganda, the highlands, which were malaria free, are now invaded by the disease. There has also been an increase in malaria cases of 43 percent in Ntungamo, 51 percent in Kabale and 135 percent in Mbarara.

In January 2000, South Africa witnessed one of the driest Decembers on record and temperatures over forty degrees fuelled extensive fires along the coast in the Western Cape Province. The intensity of the fires was exacerbated by the presence of invasive vegetation species, some of which give off 300 percent more heat when burned compared to natural vegetation. Coral reef bleaching due to global warming has already occurred in the Seychelles, Kenya, Reunion, Mauritius, Somalia, Madagascar, Maldives, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Gulf of Thailand (Siam), Andaman Islands, Malaysia, Oman, India, and Cambodia. Corals are very sensitive to temperature changes and thrive within a narrow band of heat and cold. A temperature increase of one degree Celsius can trigger them to bleach. After severe bleaching, they often die. In addition to the stress of warming ocean temperatures, oceans are becoming more acidic, thus slowing coral growth and hindering the ability of corals to build their skeletons. As the ocean takes up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, water becomes more acidic. Global warming, therefore, has the potential to impact on tourism in Africa.

(For more information on climate change and implications for Africa (i.e. conflict and human rights abuse, drought, violence over scarce resources, rising temperatures and increased diseases, food insecurity and species extinction) refer to previous Ugandan parliamentary briefing: Climate change in Africa and implications for Uganda)

Meetings and Conferences – effective or rhetorical debating?
Kyoto treaty and United Nations Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conferences
Neglecting African’s interest
Africa has been largely overlooked in much of the global discourse and policy development relating to global warming and climate change. Africa as a continent itself has no official mention in the UNFCCC or in the Kyoto Protocol, the two principal documents formulated by the United Nations to tackle global climate change. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. The treaty is aimed at stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The Kyoto Protocol the principle update has become much better known than the UNFCCC itself. With the UNFCCC Conferences of Parties (COP) meetings, the assumption is that Africa’s interests are covered as part of the wider group of developing countries. Africa’s interests, for example, were hardly noticeable in the world climate negotiations (COP13) in December 2007 in Bali. Indigenous expertise has also been neglected and normally gets little political attention. African heads of state admitted recently that the consequences of climate change increasingly need to be put onto the national and international agenda, and in Bali, they demanded a large share of the funds made available for adaptation to climate change.

In addition, while the industrialised countries have numerous experts attending meetings, African delegations are made up of one to a maximum of ten members. This has hindered African representation and presence in the numerous working and contact groups, such as in Bali and so to effectively combat climate change. If Africa is the continent that will be hardest hit due to climate changes, it would be common sense to increase African representation at meetings. Even when African governments may try to prepare for climate change meetings and debates to combat climate change, insufficient capacities remain a decisive problem. Unfortunately, there are also weaknesses in African governments making sufficient use of the African scientists’ and civil society organisations’ expertise. These two groups have now acquired more knowledge on climate policy than ever before. Unfortunately, the US one of the main contributors to climate change did not join the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 but proposed a plan with incentives for U.S. businesses to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This sets no binding agreements that would force US industry to reduce emissions, but continue with business as usual.

Climate change protests: An unfair deal
There have been numerous protests due to a lack of partnerships and strong measures to tackle climate change, with an international civil society expressing failures of climate change meetings to tackle the crisis effectively. The 12th annual global summit of the UNFCCC (COP12) in 2006 held for the first time in Africa saw 2000 people protesting outside the meeting from across Kenya. Protestors also included a group of Maasai herders, marching and demonstrating against climate change, and specifically against local impacts of drought, loss of livelihood and conflict over resources. Other concerns included climate change endangering centuries old cultures and traditional ways of life. Protestors also slammed Kenya’s environmental minister for not extracting anything meaningful from the talks and stated that delegates to the conference had failed to agree on urgent measures to address the problem of global warming.

The Annual G8 Summit
The Group of Eight (G8) is a forum for governments of eight nations of the northern hemisphere. These include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Largely echoing the 2005 G8 summit in Scotland 2005 where the summit’s outcomes were always likely to fall foul of the realpolitik of the leaders’ domestic agendas, the annual G8 summit 2007 in Heiligendamm ended in a series of meaningless statements on climate change and aid to Africa. The G8 members were also divided on political positions. The G8 has been criticised by environmental groups for failing to take serious measures to address global warming. The G8 statements are said to be non-binding, with countries like the US only ‘considering’ steps taken by other countries to reduce emissions. Not surprisingly, protests were witnessed at the summit due to frustrations to tackle global warming. Protests targeted both the G8 and capitalism. Protesters blockaded the summit for two days, forcing delegates to enter via helicopter. Protests in solidarity were also held in cities of Portland, Chicago and San Francisco. The US-led climate talks in Hawaii in January 2008 also opened amid protests pointing out Hawaii’s vulnerability to climate change.

All of these protests also signal a failure of meetings to effectively come up with concrete measures to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, G8 summit meetings have not been opportunities to generate additional momentum for solving problems at the other multilateral conferences that meet throughout the year. The G8 summit sets the stage for what needs to be done and establishes an idea of how to do it. The summit also deals with a range of complex and inter-related issues and does not specifically aim to tackle issues of climate change. The G8 continues to be sites for protests by the anti-globalisation movement opposed to the unregulated political power of multi-national corporations, and the powers exercised through trade agreements, which contribute to climate change.

Weak African representation at climate change meetings within Africa
A roundtable meeting in West Africa on sustainable finance, May 2008 hosted by the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), conducted a panel discussion on climate change and carbon financing in Africa. The session discussed opportunities and challenges arising from climate change. Although the panel meeting agreed that climate change contributes to global warming, which impacts ecosystems and human health, no effective interventions were made to tackle the climate crisis (e.g. the need to place pressure on northern countries to reduce emissions to tackle the problem effectively, Africa’s adaptation to climate change, local economic development opportunities, renewable energy as opposed to polluting industries, etc). Participation was limited to international bankers, asset managers, government officials and academics with no input from civil society representatives. Solutions to the climate crisis were thus limited to finance opportunities to achieve adaptation and mitigation. The meeting noted that The Kyoto Protocol facilitates the transfer of finance, technology, and development to counteract climate change through the mechanisms of Joint Implementation, and the Promotion of Clean Development Mechanisms. Unfortunately, the disadvantage of carbon trading is that it continues to allow developed nations to pollute without tackling the root problems of the climate crisis. The outcome is not sustainable, as most countries will benefit from free riding on other countries emission reductions. If the aim of meetings and conferences are to reduce climatic change, then CDM’s do not present an optimistic solution.

Divergent African and international interests weaken partnerships to combat climate change at meetings
Disputes over environmental discourses such as global warming and climate change should also not be underestimated. Since discourses reflect power there are many struggles for control over discourses. Discourse is a site for struggle when people get together and stakeholders (i.e. world leaders, business) can easily slip into a rhetorical mode when debating environmental discourses with no real effective interventions to solve environmental problems.

African governments have worked through a number of regional and global institutions to strengthen their responses to climate change, having attended many conferences at the African level (e.g. African Ministerial Conference on the Environment – AMCEN, New Partnership for African Development – NEPAD) as well as international level (e.g. Kyoto Protocol and UNFCCC). Besides the weaknesses of some of these initiatives, within Africa, there may be weaknesses in a united African position at national and international meetings. Within Africa, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Egypt play leading roles, but even within this small group, it is evident that the interests differ considerably. Only little is known in concrete terms about the divergences in political interests. South Africa assumes the function of a bridge between industrialised and developing countries and thereby plays a constructive role in the North-South negotiations on reduction commitments. The first reactions to the latest South African energy crisis, mining had to be reduced by up to 20 percent, indicate that more renewable energy will be employed. However, massive investments in nuclear energy and national coal production are being undertaken. Other African countries may also have different interests, e.g. with Uganda’s newfound oil reserves, Uganda has become a new focus for China to secure oil deals threatening US domination. The United States War on terror also provided justification for the invasion of Iraq, with oil said by many to be the reason behind the motive. All of these unknowing and divergent individual interests weakening commitments to combat climate change during meetings and conferences. Thus, participants may attend meetings and conferences with divergent individual (i.e. domestic) interests rather than more altruistic (i.e. global) interests creating unequal international climate negotiations. The fact that climate change is a global problem and that solutions require cooperation amongst all stakeholders means that transparency and fairness must be the cornerstone to tackle global warming.

As Kenyan Maasai leader of Practical Action, Sharon Loorrmeta noted in 2006 at the 12th Conference of the Parties (COP12) of the UNFCCC, referring to diplomats negotiations over what to do about global warming in Nairobi and ineffective measures in tackling the crisis,

“…Climate change tourists…You come here to look at some climate impacts and some poor people suffering, and then climb on your airplanes and head home”

Although the previous Bush administration refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, it is not until the US supports the treaty that international negotiations can move forward to really tackle global warming and impacts on Africa. At the US climate meeting in Montreal, 2005, the US agreed to launch a ‘dialogue’ on climate change that would specifically not involve negotiations and partnerships. However, newly elected president Barak Obama did pledge to act on climate change, and after eight years of American obstructionism, “re-engage” with the international negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, Obama has since shifted his position in global warming and will not commit the US to meet the emissions target, a cut to 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. Instead, his goal is to get back down to 1990 levels by 2020. Obama has since embraced the coal industry as part of his quest for state wide office. When he ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, he was flanked by mineworkers to proclaim that “there’s always going to be a role for coal” in Illinois. Employees of coal companies and electric utilities contributed $539,597 to Obama’s U.S. Senate and presidential campaign. Nevertheless, for any solution to climatic change, the US needs to be part of the talks and an equal partner to avoid impacts of climate change. Unfortunately, continued domestic US interest may see further challenges between world leaders in being able to effectively combat climate change and shape political discourse at meetings.

Options for governments to consider strengthening meetings:
Ways forward to tackle global warming
African nations must not be swayed by developed countries like Australia, the US and Japan to name a few who are normally stronger on not committing to reduce emission in their own countries due to domestic interest, and who normally push for non-binding agreements at meetings. Under the Kyoto Protocol, only developed countries are legally obliged to reduce their emissions. If climate change is to be truly tackled African nations who suffer the most from climatic change need to force heavily industrialised nations to commit to emission reductions. Developing countries must therefore strongly push for new binding commitments at meetings and should not be swayed to implement CDM’s which present no real solution to the climate crisis.

African governments must push developed nations to address problems of adaptation to climate change in Africa and bring local expertise to meetings. Africa is likely to suffer some of the greatest impacts of climate change despite its people having contributed among the least to the human impact on climate. At meetings it is essential that African countries push for concrete strategies that could practically help learn more about what “adaptation” means, and how to strengthen local capacity to cope in ways which brings positive rewards to local people. For this governments need to also include civil society and external experts in meetings and who have built up a wealth of knowledge on adaptation techniques and local livelihood strategies. Rather than government excluding representation, NGOs and other civil society groups can play a major role to support local action and bring knowledge to meetings by way of alternative expertise. Local representation and expertise must be included in climate change meetings.

African nations must push for renewable energy and financial assistance from developed nations at meetings to tackle climate change. African countries (and especially the developing countries under the Group of 77 and China) must push for rich countries to meet their commitment, made 16 years ago, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, with the signing of the UNFCCC to get finance and technology to the poorer countries, enabling them to act against climate change. The promised help has not yet materialised. Developing countries cannot take climate action and at the same time maintain economic development without this assistance, so finance and renewable technology must be pushed for at meetings by African leaders and civil society. The best way of stopping global warming is to gradually reduce the amount of coal and other non-renewable energy sources that we burn. The energy sector (in both developed and developing nations) needs to adopt renewable sources of power such as the use of biomass, methane and solid waste as fuel, solar power, wind power, geothermal energy and wave power. This multi-faceted approach will allow each region to meet its own power needs, with surplus energy fed back into the power grid and coal left safely in the ground. Projects fixated on carbon trading are protecting the market system of capitalism and are profit driven that serve the interest of a few. Carbon trading encourages the industries most dependent on coal, oil and gas to delay shifting away from fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developed nations. There is little incentive for redefining production processes and questioning the need for such facilities but rather a continuation of pollution via the right to pollute. The apathy of some African authorities such as in Nigeria to implement effective solutions to tackle global warming is due to government corruption and global economic opportunities (i.e. via oil infrastructure and resources). African nations need to focus on local economic development at meetings that will help the continent adapt to climate change. This will also require stemming out greed, corruption and self interested leaders.

Finally, all stakeholders need to move away from continued ‘talk-shops’ that are rhetorical in nature to actually implement positive changes (as above) that will effectively tackle global warming. Time frames must be added to meeting agreements and implemented effectively. However, this will require co-operation and equal partnerships to combat the crisis of climate change. Nation states (especially developed countries) will need to move beyond domestic interest for national profits and power, to implement internal procedures to reduce emissions, and agree to provide the necessary support at meetings to help the African continent adapt to climate change. It will be up to African governments to agree on a common framework to place pressure on the international world leaders at gatherings.

Leonard, L (2009) Emerging trends in Global Warming: Any effective interventions in place or just rhetoric debates/workshops/seminars? Ugandan Parliamentary briefing, Royal African Society, United Kingdom, 16 February.

High Commodity Prices: Implications and way out for developing countries like Uganda

This paper evaluates the impact of high commodity prices due to trade liberalisation for developing countries in Africa. Implications of high commodity prices (i.e. macroeconomic instability and loss of state power, unemployment, and poverty and food crisis) are explored focusing mostly on the agricultural sector. Recommendations on how governments may reduce impacts of trade liberalisation and contribute to national stability are provided.

Introduction
Globalisation represents a geographical reformulation of the progressive universalization of capitalist commodification and accumulation. Commodification is the transformation of common goods and services (or things that may not normally be regarded as goods or services such as basic resources like water or products such as crude oil, coal, salt, sugar, coffee beans, soybeans and wheat, gold and silver) into a commodity. One of the characteristics of a commodity good is that its price is determined as a function of its market as a whole. The price of the commodity is subject to supply and demand. For example, a farmer risks the cost of producing a product ready for market at some time in the future as he doesn’t know what the selling price will be. The commodified nature of life has meant that the relative positions of the wealthy and the impoverished have come more pronounced in terms of who has the means to purchase the services on offer. This has especially become problematic with the emergence of new security markets throughout the world, and the situation is exacerbated when these security markets begin to infiltrate weak, failing and transitional states.

Commodity price volatility problems are well documented. These include high revenues that tend to distort fiscal responsibility and monetary policy and encourage rampant corruption. A fall in prices can also lead to a reduction in government and producer revenues, including unemployment and a decline in government spending on education, health and other basic amenities. While developed country producers are supported by subsidies and social safety nets, developing countries and smallholder producers (like Uganda) feel the effects of commodity price volatility much more directly. In the early stages of a countries development, policymakers exploit agriculture through export taxes and overvalued exchange rates. In contrast, agricultural policy in advanced industrial countries has strongly protected domestic producers by means of trade restrictions, direct price or income supports, and public investment. A recently released joint Action Aid – South Centre report entitled “Commodity Dependence and Development: Suggestions to tackle the commodities problem” also explains how dependence on a few primary products seals and perpetuates poverty. It draws attention to three features of commodity markets that will keep those that are dependent on commodities poor forever. These include the unpredictability of international prices; the belief that over the long term, prices of primary commodities go down (in relation to prices of finished goods or goods to which value has been added); and there is a tendency towards concentration of production in just a few hands, internationally.

The price of commodities produced in Uganda, especially food crops, is also connected to increased fuel prices. With increased fuel prices, transportation costs for goods have gone up with urban dwellers feeling the effects of the increased prices more than rural people. For imported commodities, the increase affects everyone. Fuel prices have gone up, with a litre of petrol costing USh3,000 (US$1.50), up from Sh2,800 ($1.40) while a litre of diesel now goes for Sh2,800 from Sh2,600 ($1.30). With the fuel shortage beginning to take effect, commodity and transport charges have gone up across the region. The recent discovery of oil reserves in the country may not alleviate the situation since the Ugandan President announced progressive co-operation and granted explorative rights for many international countries and multinationals, which may not decrease local fuel costs and commodity prices.

Implications for high commodity prices in Africa
Macroeconomic instability and loss of state power
Commodity price volatilities lead to macroeconomic instability, which is detrimental to economic development. There is now macroeconomic instability all over Africa. One of the biggest offences of the neo-liberal paradigm was to advise African countries to do away with their state marketing boards, with market power transferred to private hands of a few. This has resulted in market concentration. In countries where these marketing boards have now been abolished in the names of structural adjustment, liberalisation and fair trade, we are seeing a worrying picture. Producers are weak and have been left without state protection and are defenceless in international markets, which favour the strong. Countries like Senegal which liberalised their groundnuts sector are facing a crisis of overdependence on a narrow band of commodities. Many Asian countries managed to avoid the crisis currently facing African agriculturalists because they did not fall into the debt and structural adjustment trap, and because the state refused to withdraw from taking the lead in development. The situation is much different in West Africa where states have not taken the lead in development. West Africa accounts for two-thirds of the world’s cocoa production. Until the 1980’s the region’s cocoa was produced and marketed under state control, but in the mid-1980’s and 1990’s several West African cocoa-producing countries (i.e. Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire) began reforming their cocoa marketing and pricing systems. The rapid reforms have weakened functions that were the responsibilities of the state.

Unemployment and poverty
In Africa, agriculture remains an important sector for unemployment. The commodification of the agricultural sector can impact negatively on a country’s development and increase poverty. The latter has in fact been the result of the last twenty years of structural adjustment policies in many African countries. From being net food exporters in the 1970s, the liberalisation policies of the 1980s and 1990s led to only small increases in the growth of exports, but exponential growth in terms of Africa’s imports of food products. Whilst 72 percent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa or 286 million were living under $2 a day in 1981, the figure is 72.2 percent in 2007, or 551 million. Lower tariffs essentially led to an overflow of food imports, with, for example, subsidised tomato paste from Italy destroying Ghana and Senegal tomato producers. Not only are the imports increasing unemployment, the poor developing countries’ food import bills are also escalating. The deficit in 2001 of US$11 billion is predicted to rise to US$50 billion by 2030. If food prices remain high, this figure could easily be doubled. The key notable effect of liberalisation in Uganda since 1987 has been the collapse of the cooperative movement and system which has affected productivity and contributed to worsening rural poverty. Although gains have been achieved in the areas of economic growth and stability as well as government revenue, it is clear that liberalisation of the economy has achieved marginally in terms of the international competitiveness of domestic production especially in agriculture. The poor households have also not benefited in terms of income growth and better prices. Rapid liberalisation has greatly increased the overall exposure of the economy to global markets. Consequently, the vulnerability of the poor households, particularly farming households has greatly increased.

Policies promoted by the World Bank, IMF, and WTO systematically discouraged food self-sufficiency and encouraged food importation by destroying the local productive base of smallholder agriculture. Hunger and famine have become widespread with the last three years alone seeing food emergencies break out in Africa. Agriculture is in deep crisis with one of the major explanation being the phasing out of government controls and support mechanisms under the structural adjustment programmes to which most African countries were subjected as the price for getting IMF and World Bank assistance to service their external debt. Instead of triggering a virtuous spiral of growth and prosperity, structural adjustment saddled Africa with low investment, increased unemployment, reduced social spending, reduced consumption, and low output, all combining to create a vicious cycle of stagnation and decline. A disastrous free market neo-liberal restructuring of agricultural land promoted by supranational institutions has created a global crisis in food production through import liberalization, elimination of tariffs, a dependency on cash crops, GMO seeds and fertilizers, and all other measures that work in favour of agribusiness and against the millions of small-scale farmers struggling against poverty and hunger. World commodity prices have risen strongly in the last few years, driven primarily by the surge in oil prices to record highs. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has recently warned that surging prices for basic food imports such as wheat, corn and milk had the “potential for social tension, leading to social reactions and eventually even political problems.

Ugandan food crisis
Currently, Ugandan urban citizens grapple with soaring commodity prices, with analysts predicting that the urban poor will be even under greater strain if regional markets remain competitive. The prices of most food items, including those locally produced, have more than doubled since the start of 2008, raising fears that the country could be headed for a food crisis. Bananas, potatoes, beans, beef and vegetables are exported to foreign markets in South Sudan, eastern DRC and Rwanda, where growing (and competitive) markets must be satisfied. About 15 per cent of Uganda’s 30 million people lives in urban areas, where the soaring prices are most upsetting. The effect of world prices is the major cause of high commodity prices. A 2001 study by the Britain’s University of Nottingham by the Centre for Research in Economic Development and International Trade showed that if the policy of trade liberalisation was carried out in developing countries like Uganda without adequate checks, international trade could affect prices of commodities in Uganda 10-fold. Food prices are likely to increase more than export crop prices Uganda’s export earnings soared 40 percent last year on higher prices for most of the country’s main commodities.

Effects on Uganda’s coffee earnings
High commodity prices have also impacted on Uganda’s coffee earnings. Uganda is a leading African and international coffee producer and exporter. It is Africa’s second largest producer of coffee after Ethiopia and the 7th largest coffee producer in the world. The Ugandan coffee sector is renowned for the high quality of its Robusta. The sector has a large geographic and socio-economic footprint. In the 25 years to 2005 coffee contributed an average of US$ 245 million a year to Uganda’s export earnings. Over the last 5 years, Coffee earnings have accounted for just less than 20% of export earnings. Unfortunately, a decline in world prices of most of Uganda’s traditional exports (coffee, cotton, tea and tobacco) have contributed to a fall in export earnings despite an upward trend in the share of non-traditional exports resulting from diversification efforts. Overall, agriculture still accounts for the bulk of Uganda’s exports contributing over 70% of the value of the total merchandise exports.

Recommendations
Secure national food production and food sovereignty
There must be an explicit recognition of the basic right to sustain food production and promote food sovereignty in developing countries. There is a need for re-nationalisation of agricultural produce and the end to trade-distorting subsidies in developed countries. For the poorest and for the commodity-dependent nations at the moment this will also entail national policies and international cooperation to foster agricultural production and productivity. Until the re-nationalisation of common goods, the alternative trade networks in organic and fair trade and the opportunities for strengthening the brand of Ugandan products can offer farmers an opportunity for price premiums. This will in turn help producer’s withstand declines in international prices. Further efforts should also be put into both ensuring that the Ugandan Robusta coffee brand continues to lead in both quality and price and that the country increases its output of organic and fair trade products to match the global average. Uganda’s Robusta coffee already enjoys a strong reputation built on higher quality beans, ensuring that it earns a premium price. There is a need for Uganda to implement agricultural policies that provide incentives to local farmers and facilitate increased production so that an increase in world prices need not disadvantage Uganda because the country has the potential to displace more expensive imports with increased domestic production.

Finally, to reduce the impact of high commodity prices due to an increase in fuel prices, the Ugandan government needs to ensure that benefits of its oil reserves are secured for citizens through nationalisation. For example, Venezuela is among a small but growing number of resource-rich countries to put the squeeze on international corporations from extracting resources from the country that do not benefit locals. To the resource-rich developing states involved in such moves, it is an important signal of sovereignty in an age of globalisation where the state is losing power. National interest must also direct popular governments to take shelter behind democratic pressure and act in a manner which sacrifices the WTO rules on globalisation (which disadvantages citizens with high commodity prices). History provides us ample examples when nations abandoned free trade and embraced protectionist policies to further their interests and stay in power.

Leonard, L. (2008) High commodity prices: Implications for developing countries like Uganda, Ugandan Parliamentary briefing, Royal African Society, United Kingdom, 3 December.

Sharing of Wealth from Natural Resources: Experience of Developing Countries

This paper provides an overview of the sharing of wealth from natural resources in Africa. It explores the implications of this sharing of wealth especially for local communities who live next to or own these resources. It examines wealth sharing for both renewable and non-renewable natural resources. Due to the diversity of natural resources, it is not possible to cover all areas; rather this paper will explore selected examples (i.e. parks and conservation areas, forests and trees, fossil fuels and minerals). Suggestions on how African governments and local communities, as well as local and international civil society, can improve the sharing of natural resources for citizens are provided.

Introduction
Africa is unarguably rich in natural resources. Natural resources are naturally occurring substances that are considered valuable in their relatively unmodified (natural) form. A natural resource’s value rests in the amount and extractability of the material available and the demand for it. Natural resources are mostly classified into renewable (e.g. trees and forests) and non-renewable resources (e.g. oil, coal, natural gas, diamonds). Some non-renewable resources can be renewable but take an extremely long time to renew. Fossil fuels and minerals, for example, take millions of years to form and so are not practically considered ‘renewable’ and for this paper are considered non-renewable.

Dozens of experts and interested parties, nearly all African, attended the sixth African Resource Bank meeting in November 2008 to focus on the important question of why Africa, blessed with rich natural resources, has failed in most of the continent to turn that advantage into wealth and increase living standards for its people. The tendency of African governments to tightly control natural resources for generating wealth serves to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of government and those who control and therefore facilitates corruption. It also fundamentally weakens the political process. Despite its vast natural resources (Refer to Figures 1 and 2 for some of Africa natural resources), people in Africa are characterised and battered by endemic hunger, genocides, wars, corruption, massive underdevelopment and all sorts of untold sufferings. For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the share of people living below US$1.25 remained static at around 50 percent between 1981 and 2005. Despite a 4.7 percentage point decline in the share of people in extreme poverty between 1999 and 2004, some 31 percent of Africans will still be living in extreme poverty by 2015. This is a far higher proportion than the Millennium Development Goal target of 23 percent. The number of people living under the US$1.25 line has almost doubled during the same period, from around 200 million to 380 million. Improving economic growth and access to basic services to enable the poor to participate in the growth process in Africa will be necessary if its rate of poverty reduction is to be brought in line with the rest of the world.

Other reasons for Africa’s underdevelopment despite natural resources are because African leaders have failed to tap their natural resources for the benefit of the general public. African governments have failed to come up with a constructive reform powerful enough to shape a better and prosperous future for Africans. The dormant international community cannot be left out of the responsibility for Africa’s underdevelopment and suffering due to historical and contemporary issues of natural resource extraction. Although Africa is rich in natural resources the overwhelming problem lies in the nature of exploitation of resources, especially by developing countries. Foreign corporations and investors make deals with repressive regimes in the country to share the wealth with an elite powerful few, thereby entrenching the dictatorships and autocratic government, or failed corrupt democracies. These rulers, their families’ friends and military supporters are enriched with guarantees of wealth in foreign accounts. However, the vast impoverished populations of these countries remain in a cycle of poverty with a lack of sharing of wealth with nationals.

Natural resources are important aspects of a nation’s power. Africa as a whole has a vast amount of resources compared with other continents and these can allow Africa to be a major force in the international arena if natural resources are properly utilised in a sustainable way. African governments are still unaware that the natural resources of each African state are a source of power for its international relations. If they even are aware of this, then their corruptive tendencies override their national interests. Rather than exploit their natural resources to solve their country problems, African leaders have opted for foreign aid that has plunged the continent in abhorrent debts. This has in most cases not resulted in the sharing of resources with the local communities who live next to and own these natural resources.

The African experience of sharing of wealth from natural resources
Renewable natural resources:

Parks and conservations areas
The history of renewable natural resource plundering by developed countries continues to exhibit impacts today on African nations by tourist operates and African governments who advertise parks and conservation areas for tourism. These have had no benefit for locals even today. For example, in 1905, the native African populations in Tanzania living in the Selous area were forced by colonial masters from their homes and villages were burnt down. About a third of the local population (300 000) died, and as a result, the groundwork was laid for the creation of the Selous Game Reserve. Images of nature in Africa have been crafted to appeal to European preconceptions of Africa as a virtual ‘Garden of Eden’, innocent of the ills of modern civilisation, rather than as a complex and changing environment in which people have actually had to live. To the present day, Africa is still presented in such Edenic terms of its parks. Parks such as the Selous, Serengeti and Arusha in Tanzania are marketed to western tourists as nature in its ‘true’ form. For example, the Selous Game Reserve is promoted by safari operators as being undamaged and unspoilt. Besides serving the interest of the safari operator and the revenue goals of the Tanzanian national government, it has nothing to do with the Selous history. If the Selous, like many other reserves and parks, appears to be ‘wild Africa’, it is the product of extermination and removal of its people by deliberate European strategy in the twentieth century. Unfortunately, the profits generated from these marketed game reserve’s are not shared with local populations who once lived on these lands, which belong to them. Even London-based travel to Tanzania tourism company, Tanzania Odyssey, market the country’s parks as Edenic and generate profit while the locals receive nothing in return. Wildlife authorities and conservationists also seldom consider the cultural significance of natural resources locked within Africa’s sprawling game parks and reserves prior to enforcing laws that exclude indigenous communities from them. Sacred forest shrines and animal totems of immense value to the Samburu, Maasai and Taveta peoples of Kenya are fenced off and access is limited to the hordes of insensitive tourists who frequent the country’s parks.

Forests and trees
Due to climate change in developed nations, this is leading to an increase in exploitation of renewable natural resources and abuse of the local populations which own them. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) contains the world’s second largest tropical rainforest expanse. International economic forces have placed a growing demand for natural resources. Unfortunately, widespread regional poverty is still common. This lack of sharing of wealth from the rainforest is, in turn, putting poverty stricken communities to place further pressures on the forests, wildlife and freshwater areas of the Congo Basin. Current patterns of resource exploitation and infrastructure development across the region could result in as much as 70% of remaining forest being lost by 2040. Wealth extraction from renewable natural resources and a lack of sharing with locals are also on the increase as developed countries aim to secure carbon credits due to their pollution and contribution to climate change. Example, a new World Rainforest Movement report entitled ‘A funny place to store carbon’ documents human rights abuses at Mount Elgon National Park in east Uganda, where the Dutch Face Foundation has been planting carbon ‘offset’ trees since 1994. The report exposes how villagers living along the boundary of the park have been beaten and shot at, have been barred from their land and have seen their livestock confiscated by armed park rangers guarding the ‘carbon trees’ inside the National Park. Clearly, a lack of transparency, partnerships and accountability to locals will not result in equitable sharing of wealth, but exploitation of African environments and human rights abuses.

Non-renewable natural resources
Fossil fuels and minerals
The demand for non-renewable natural resources (i.e. fossil fuels and minerals) is high worldwide due to its scarcity. With the peak in the world’s oil resources fast approaching the risks of competing fossil fuel exploitation and depletion are set to exacerbate inequalities within Africa nation-states and between developed nations and Africa. Natural non-renewable resources exploitation has been a problem in African countries leading to human rights abuse of local populations and a lack of equitable resource wealth distribution. For example, Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta region has witnessed repeated armed clashes amongst local residents, dissident groups, the military and police. Fighting over wealth from natural resources in the region has claimed many lives. Shell (i.e. Royal Dutch Shell Group) and the Nigerian military government are united in their continuing violent assault of indigenous peoples (i.e. the Ogoni people) and the environment. Considering that oil reserves have also been discovered in Uganda’s Lake Albert region, it is it is questionable whether benefits of this natural resource will be shared with locals, considering that recent reports indicate that the Ugandan government has asked Nigeria for assistance in developing the countries oil industry.

Other non-renewable natural resource discoveries such as diamonds in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa have also not been shared with locals, with rebel faction groups controlling a large open-pit diamond mine in the town of Seguela. It is one of several producing diamonds estimated to be worth more than $20 million that have been smuggled into Mali and Ghana to help fund arms purchases, in violation of UN sanctions. Many central governments are unable to fully control the behaviour of their own officials and employees. With large sums of money involved, armed factions and smugglers can often pay off ministers, licensing authorities, customs officers and border guards. This leads to a lack of sharing the wealth with local populations living next to natural resources. Mbuji-Mayi in central DRC is sometimes called the “diamond capital of the world.” But the city itself is little more than a slum. Its province, Kasai Oriental, has high rates of illiteracy and infant mortality, it lacks electricity and 60 percent of its children under five suffer malnutrition. Meanwhile, a few Congolese and foreign diamond merchants display unimaginable wealth. Such inequities contribute greatly to social and political tensions across Africa, and make it easier for armed groups to mobilise local supporters. Alluvial diamonds are seen as an especially strong risk factor in predicting civil war. As documented by numerous journalistic reports and scholarly case studies, alluvial diamonds have indeed played a central role in some of the most high-profile civil wars in contemporary Africa (e.g. Sierra Leone, Angola, Congo, and Liberia). Moreover, a recent comparative study found that countries that produce alluvial diamonds had the highest civil war rate in the 1990s among resource-rich countries. Because of their strong association with civil war, alluvial diamonds have been vividly described as “blood diamonds” and the “ultimate loot.” Unfortunately, sharing of wealth from non-renewable fossil fuels extraction has been less successful than renewable natural resource wealth sharing.

Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM): The case of Namibia renewable resources
To ensure equitable distribution of natural resources, a CBNRM strategy is important for equal sharing of resources. CBNRM is based on the recognition that local people must have the power to decide over their natural resources in order to encourage sustainable development. Namibia’s National CBNRM Programme is a joint venture between Government and non-government institutions, communities, community-based organisations and development partners. The programme aims to provide incentives to communities to manage and use wildlife and other natural resources in sustainable and productive ways. It does this by promoting three closely related approaches which include a natural resource management and conservation program, a rural development program which creates opportunities for enterprise development and income generation for locals, and an empowerment and capacity building programme to assist communities and local institutions to develop skills and experience for sustainable develop and pro-actively pilot their own futures. The idea of a national CBNRM support structure emerged in the early 1990s, through the efforts of the Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE) Programme. Several partners, including the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as lead agent, NGOs, donors, local and traditional authorities and communities, agreed to initiate a CBNRM programme. According to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on CBNRM, in 2000, $3.5 million was generated through CBNRM activities, with the largest amount earned from community owned tourism. However, CBNRM is not unique to Namibia. There are CBNRM programmes in most southern African countries, including CAMPFIRE in Zimbabwe and ADMADE in Zambia. Although each country has worked out its own model for CBNRM, all of them are based on the idea that a resource is likely to be used in a sustainable manner if it is seen as valuable, and if landholders have the exclusive rights to use, benefit from and manage the resource.

Ways forward to improve sharing of natural resources in Africa
Africans and their international partners are focusing increasingly on ways to break the links between conflict and natural wealth. Experts from representatives of African governments, the UN and other regional and international organisations, civil society groups, academics and the private sector met in Cairo, Egypt, in June 2006 to discuss natural resource conflicts. The group recommended measures to strengthen international and national controls to prevent natural resources from financing military factions. They suggested steps to reduce domestic conflicts over access to natural wealth, including “responsible, just and economically productive resource management” by African governments, with “equitable distribution of wealth to all stakeholders, in particular, local communities.” Even if governments are able to manage their natural resources more transparently and effectively, that will have only a limited impact if the benefits are not also shared more widely within African societies. Paradoxically, many areas that have plentiful oil, diamonds or other minerals are also extremely impoverished. The group strongly urged African governments and extraction industries to ensure that a greater share of natural resource wealth is used for social services and development programmes nationally, as well as to directly benefit local communities.

The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service has made a number of recommendations for redressing the imbalances associated with natural resources exploitation that does not benefit locals. Some of these have included reparations for lost resources, with former imperial and colonial powers providing compensation for the natural resources that were mined, looted and forcibly wrested from Africa (i.e. minerals, tropical timber, ivory, game trophies and products of Africa’s once-rich soils). It is insensible to talk of sustainable development in a region whose resource base has been mined to unsustainable levels by insatiable external powers. African peoples, NGOs, governments and the international NGO community should institute legal proceedings in the International Court of Justice to seek redress and compensation for these stolen resources. There is also a need to control of resource exploitation, with African countries forming Natural Resource Cartels to control and manage the exploitation of Africa’s resources and to ensure the protection of Africa’s interests via resisting attempts to globalise Africa’s biological resources.

There is also a need to review policies and laws for governing the conservation, utilisation and management of natural resources in Africa. This must include discarding those that inhibit and prohibit the control and participation of local communities in the conservation, management and utilisation of natural resources, and protecting the cultural norms of Africa’s ethnic nationalities that pertain to the conservation and management of natural resources in the region. There also needs to be a strong need for the local management of resources. NGOs and development agencies working in Africa must identify and promote community-based strategies that integrate local indigenous knowledge into natural resources conservation and management. Local people, the ultimate owners and guardians of natural resources, must be the direct beneficiaries of the income that accrues from the exploitation of resources by, sharing collected revenues from wildlife reserves through tourism; integrating them into resource management and control committees at local and national levels; eliminating middlemen and processes that reduce income from the exploitation of natural resources.

Finally, it is important that African countries rich in natural resources introduce Natural Wealth Accounts and move away from Natural Resource Rents. Natural resources generate what economists term ‘rents’ meaning profits that are much higher than the minimum level needed to keep the activity going. Natural resource rents are a ‘honey pot’ where politics comes to be about the contest for control of these revenues. This produces a politics of corruption, aided and abetted by foreign corporate behaviour and sometimes directly a politics of violence. Natural resource rents increase the risk of war is through the detachment of government because resource-rich governments do not need significant other tax revenues they become detached from their electorates. In most societies, because electors have to pay high taxes, they scrutinise the government to see how it uses their money. Natural Wealth Accounts is a system in which the income from natural resources exploitation is given directly to citizens, and which is then only partially collected by the government in the form of individual taxes. While natural resource rents seem to have corrosive effects on government, tax revenues do not. The information effect is that the proposed system equips the public with a better understanding of the government’s revenue stream from natural resources. The potential benefits of this income effect are great, especially for the poor, who would immediately enjoy a much larger disposable income.

Leonard, L. (2008) Sharing of wealth from natural resources: Experience from developing countries, Ugandan Parliamentary briefing, Royal African Society, United Kingdom, 27 November.