There are so many problems affecting the East African people. Among these are overty, prolonged droughts, food crises, water shortage and so many others. Surprisingly, people have not yet realized the typical causative of the above phenomenon.
One of the tremendous causes of East Africa’s problem is none other than Deforestation.
In East Africa, woodland covers 13%. Kenya is the most forested country with 30% percent of its land covered with forest. Uganda comes second with 21% forest land, Rwanda with 12.4% while Burundi is covered by 3.7% woodland.
World conservationists have long recognized the role of forests in supporting indigenous peoples’ livelihood in developing countries. In Africa, research indicates that more than 70% of African people immensely depend on forest resources.
Forests provide direct economic benefits like food, natural medicine, timbers, energy, building materials. Not only that, forests also help in moderating air temperature, controlling water flow, generating rainfall, mitigation of floods as well as earning revenue to governments.
This in turn contributes a lot to elevating many a country’s economy.
It’s quite absurd that people have forgotten the forests’ positive contribution towards the promotion of people’s standards of living. People have instead resorted to destroying the forests in search of short term benefits disregarding the damage to the ecosystem.
It’s estimated that change in forest cover in east Africa is 0.51% per year with Burundi leading others in experiencing forest decline with 9%, Rwanda 3.9%, Uganda 2% and Kenya 0.5%.
Tropical forests are being destroyed to make way for agriculture which I don’t think will eliminate Africa’s problems like water shortage especially tropical rain fall which is brought by tropical forests.
Yes, we know that agriculture is the backbone of Africa’s economy but without forests, effective agriculture can exist.
Deforestation can easily adjust soil dynamics and increase soil erosion. If deforestation exists in a region, rainfall will automatically diminish hence perilous drought which reduces food production and affects animal health in different forests, national parks, and all species living in water resources.
Research indicates that deforestation emits around one fifth of global carbon. So if sustainable forest management practices are not immediately adopted, forests and woodland may deteriorate rapidly by 2020.
Therefore, the East African Community governments should wakeup and exert tough mechanisms to all deforestation practitioners in order to curb all problems caused by destruction of forests.
They should also put much emphasis on aforestation as well as re-forestation in order to effectively acquire the opportunities offered by forests.
Governments should also engage their citizens through massive campaigns such as tree planting.
This way, there should be a sense of ownership developed which will in turn inhibit people from taking forests for granted.
The writer is a researcher and journalist.