Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA)

Environmental Situation in Africa

- By:

Courtesy of Courtesy of Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA)



The economic and social needs of Africa depends more on its environmental resources but these natural resources are seriously declining and that is really effecting the entire region. Sustainable development in this rapidly changing region has become an imperative, and must take place in the complex context of a diverse and changing ecosystem, political transition and evolution toward market economies.

The region is heading towards integrating environmental components into sectors like agriculture, infrastructure, urban management and transportation, and needs help finding environmental solution which move beyond national boundaries. All of the Environmental projects are funded through NGO's, governmental firms, The worldbank as well as community based organizations so Africa is working extremely hard to blance its critical social and environmental needs for the future.

Middle East

The economic growth during the 60's and 70's was extremely fast in the Middle East , primarily because of the oil exports . but by the 80's , as international oil prices slumped because of global overproduction , these economic gains became unsustainable and the region's countries witnessed slow or even negative per capita growth rates .

By the 90's many governments in the region began economic reform programs to improve resources efficiency and a spur in the private sector growth. In the process, however, the region came face to face with the environmental legacy of its earlier development strategy, with its unsustainable use of natural resources and widespread environmental degradation.

Role of Egypt (as an example of a country in the region ) in the environmental markets : Egypt is a window into the Middle East and Africa, as the largest Arab Country and one of the first countries of the region to implement environmental laws. The government has allocated US$2.6B to execute its environmental action plan through to the year 2007.

Africa depends more on its environmental resource base for its economic and social needs than any other region in the world. But with the natural resource base seriously declining, the entire region, rural and urban, is being profoundly affected.

Two-thirds of the region’s people live in rural areas and depend primarily on agriculture and other natural resources for income; to them, the region’s severe environmental problems like soil erosion and declining soil fertility, deforestation, pollution of water supplies, and biodiversity loss are everyday, real and critical concerns.

With the world's fastest growing population, averaging about 3% a year, the region will be home to more than a billion people by the year 2025. With rampant migration and urbanization, an estimated 700 million of these people will be living in urban areas, facing health consequences which occur if infrastructure and services fail to keep up to pace with urban growth.

Meeting the Challenges

Sustainable development in this rapidly changing region has become an imperative, and must take place in the complex context of diverse and changing ecosystems, political transitions and evolution toward market economies. Last August, the Bank’s regional team collaborated with a broad spectrum of participants from African countries to develop Toward Environmentally Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa – A World Bank Perspective1, an agenda for action which builds the Bank’s assistance strategy around the region’s major environmental challenges: achieving food security through sustainable agricultural intensification; facilitating a demographic transition to a more stable population level; influencing migration toward a better population distribution, especially in sensitive areas; making urbanization sustainable by improving planning and services; managing energy, water, and other natural resources in an integrated fashion; and hastening Africa’s development of modern education, information, and communication systems.

In the region’s environmental portfolio, projects focused on helping countries increase their environmental management capacity, especially through National Environmental Action Plans (NEAPs) and Environmental Support Programs (ESPs). In the regular investment portfolio, the region helped integrate environmental components into sectors like agriculture, infrastructure, urban management and transportation, and helped find environmental solutions which move beyond national boundaries.

This year, the region’s environmental portfolio has expanded to include two new projects, in Nigeria and Uganda. The Nigerian Natural Resources Management Project is designed to encourage sustainable agricultural production and growth while improving rural living conditions. The project will also address building capacity for environmental management through improved national policies and strategies, strengthening institutions and, at a local level, training rural communities and funding for small resource management projects.

The Uganda Environmental Management Project supports the first 5-year phase of a longer-term program to build capacity for environmental management at the national, district, and community levels through a National Environmental Management Authority, and to initiate a process in which communities can address their local natural resource degradation problems. One of the key objectives of the first phase is to establish the building-blocks for participatory environmental management.

Environmental Components in the Investment Portfolio

In the past year, the region has made great progress in incorporating environmental components into projects in its investment portfolio, particularly in extension and education projects and in agricultural research projects through soil conservation, soil fertility management, agro-forestry and integrated pest management components. Several countries, recognizing the need for projects which are environmentally and socially as well as economically sustainable, supplemented their borrowing with improved environmental management training.

By the year 2000, nearly 300 million Africans will live in a water-scarce environment. About 65% of rural inhabitants and one-fourth of the people in cities are now without adequate water; 73% of the rural and 43% of the urban population are without proper sanitation.

The region's forests also continue to be non-sustainably exploited. The threat of deforestation during the next century extands to massive ecosystems like the Congo Basin primary forest, which makes up over 90% of the remaining primary forests in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This year, the Eritrea Community Development Fund Project will finance community-based sub-projects to improve poor households’ income-generating capacity, such as environmental conservation and rehabilitation activities like check-dams, hillside terraces and tree planting in areas affected by soil erosion and deforestation. The Guinea National Agricultural Services Project aims to improve the Ministry of Agriculture’s capacity to arrest environmental degradation and strengthen agricultural extension’s adoption of sustainable technologies and approaches. The Guinea Mining Sector Investment Promotion Project aims to improve mining-related environmental laws and regulations and to protect water resources from pollution caused by mining. The Madagascar Energy Sector Development Project is creating a program for energy conservation which includes pilot projects in fuelwood supplies, and will explore options for similar programs in the transport sector. The Ghana Urban Environmental Sanitation Project aims to provide safe and adequate water supply, sanitation and solid waste services in lower income neighborhoods in the country’s major cities. Similar projects were also approved in Tanzania. The environmental review process required by the Bank present an opportunity to improve the environmental and social context for development projects, particularly through sectoral or regional Environmental Assessments (EAs). In the transport sector this past year, projects being prepared in Zambia and Ethiopia have included sectoral EAs, which will establish criteria for road construction, rehabilitation or maintenance sub-projects.

Training programs in Eritrea and Namibia continue to build EA capacity, with guidance emerging from the Bank’s Workshop on Environmental Assessment in Durban, South Africa in June 1995.

Preparatory work has also continued on the GEF Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project. The project will address the major threats facing the Lake’s ecosystem, especially over-fishing, eutrophication, and the effects of introduced exotic fish and plant species.

The region has given high priority to environmental monitoring, reflected in the Regional Environmental Information Management Project (REIMP) for the Congo Basin’s six countries. The multi-donor project is designing a demand-driven satellite information database for central Africa’s tropical forest region to build capacity for environmental monitoring and land use planning. The complementary proposed Congo Basin Initiative, now in its early stages of development, aims to develop long-term sustainable management of the Congo’s internationally important tropical forest ecosystems.

The Challenges Ahead

As Sub-Saharan Africa works to balance its critical social and environmental needs in the future, it must foster stronger ownership by building capacity for environmental planning and management, using participatory approaches at the national and local levels. The challenge will be to promote implementation of NEAPs by focusing on Local Environmental Action Plans (LEAPs) and continuing to promote national ESPs, building on the experience and best practices from the first generation of ESPs.

Developing institutional capacity will continue to be a high priority. As national environmental agencies are developed, they need to be complemented by sectoral-level capacity and capacity to manage cross-sectoral programs such as integrated coastal zone management or transboundary watershed management. In parallel, increasing capacity for Environmental Assessment in the region, particularly for strategic Environmental Assessment encompassing sectoral and regional approaches, represents a significant challenge for the region's future.

In the 1960s and 70s, economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa was the highest in the world, primarily because of oil exports. During these years, in a drive for self-sufficiency, the region embarked on a strategy of industrial and agricultural protectionism supported by trade barriers, a strategy encouraged by publicly subsidized energy, water and agrochemicals.

But by the 1980s, as international oil prices slumped in the wake of global overproduction, these economic gains became unsustainable and the region’s countries witnessed slow or even negative per capita growth rates. By the 1990s, the ‘lost decade’ of the 80s prompted many governments in the region to begin economic reform programs to improve resource efficiency and spur private sector growth. In the process, however, the region came face to face with the environmental legacy of its earlier development strategy, with its unsustainable use of natural resources and widespread environmental degradation.

The region now faces four major environmental challenges: 60 million people are exposed to urban air pollution of particulates, lead, and sulfur dioxide. This could increase to 160 million in ten years. 45 million people lack safe drinking water and 85 million lack safe sanitation, mostly in rural areas. 18 of the region’s countries already consume more freshwater resources than can be renewed, relying on depletion of non-renewable aquifers and/or expensive desalinization of seawater. Land, pasture and forest degradation is threatening the livelihoods of millions of rural poor people who depend on surroundings for their sustance.

These problems now cost almost $15 billion a year, 3% of GDP, in impaired health, premature deaths, lost natural resources, and tourism losses.

Meeting the Challenges

The World Bank has supported this strategy through projects in its environmental portfolio, environmental components in projects in its regular investment portfolio, and programs and projects beyond national boundaries, including METAP-financed activities.

METAP, the Mediterranean Environment Technical Assistance Program, is a program designed to strengthen the link between northern and southern rim countries as they deal with their common environmental problems, giving priority to water resource management, solid and hazardous waste management, integrated coastal zone management and coastal and marine pollution.

The Environmental Project Portfolio As of today, the world Bank actively supports 12 environmental projects in Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen (in addition to 7 GEF and 4 MP projects). The portfolio’s pollution and urban environmental management projects aim to address environmental and public health issues related to solid waste, domestic effluent and industrial pollution. The natural resources and rural environmental management projects deal with sustainably managing forests, soils and water, and building capacity for managing environmental protection. The overall Bank contribution to these projects is $645 million out of a total project cost of $1.7 billion.

This fiscal year, the Bank approved two industrial sector pollution projects, in Algeria and Egypt. The Algeria Industrial Pollution Control Project is designed to strengthen the country’s institutional and legal framework by increasing national and local capacities to design, monitor, and enforce policies and regulations, and to help finance investments aimed at pollution reduction and prevention in two industrial plants—an iron and steel complex and a fertilizer complex with several sulfuric and phosphoric acid plants.

Causes of the Region’s Environmental Problems

The causes of the current environmental situation, rooted in past policies and incomplete reforms, are: energy policies with no accountability, that continue to supply fuel oil with high sulfur content and leaded gasoline; high energy consumption in relation to economic output caused by low energy prices; highly polluting public enterprises still responsible for the bulk of industrial air and water pollution; old, fuel inefficient and highly polluting vehicle fleets, replacement of which is discouraged by high import barriers; lack of cost recovery for water and sanitation services, which has constraint finances available for extending and improving service provision; massive abstraction and inefficient use of water for irrigation, encouraged by low or no-cost water and a lack of incentives for conservation and allocation to higher value uses; lack of adequate natural resources tenure rights and protection, coupled with rapid population growth.

A number of newly approved projects in the Bank’s investment portfolio for the region are designed to address this problem by creating employment opportunities while they maximize environmental benefits. The Egypt Second Social Fund Project supports job creation through community infrastructure works (small scale wastewater treatment, rural roads, community centers), and small and micro-enterprise development, with environmental considerations built into the project. Public works in agriculture and water, sewerage and road maintenance financed by the Algeria Social Safety Net Support Projects include control of soil erosion in vulnerable areas in two provinces and maintenance of watershed infrastructure in Bourmedes. The Yemen Public Works Project aims to promote community participation in small works such as irrigation improvement and soil conservation.

Two projects approved in FY96 support infrastructure to improve environmental and public health conditions. The Morocco Second Sewerage and Water Re-Use Project will improve sewerage and wastewater services in Fez by rehabilitating and expanding the sewerage collection system and providing wastewater treatment and quality control.

The project will also finance sanitary education campaigns, water quality control and credit lines for house connections to sewers in low income neighborhoods. The West Bank and Gaza Municipal Infrastructure Development Project also aims to improve sewerage collection, treatment and disposal systems and conserve water resources through wastewater re-use and leakage control from irrigation systems.

* Global Environment Facility

** Montreal Protocol (includes several sub-projects)

Projects with components to strengthen environmental management capacity include the Jordan Export Development Project, designed to build the banking sector’s capacity for ‘clean’ private sector development and growth and enhance the country’s export competitiveness; and the Tunisia Industry Support Institutions Upgrading Project, designed to develop information and research on clean technologies, upstream waste minimization and reduction, economies in the use of raw material, energy, water and hazardous substances, waste recovery and recycling, training in best practices, and environmental audits.

This past fiscal year, the world Bank also helped prepare environmental strategies for Jordan and Lebanon, and completed a pollution load assessment for Saudi Arabia (on a cost reimbursable basis). Emphasis is also placed on disseminating environmental assessment procedures, and introducing environmental economics through case studies and workshops.
A window into the Middle East and North Africa

As the largest Arab country and the first to make peace with Israel, Egypt is at the centre of regional political and economic initiatives. By virtue of its population, currently nearly 62 million, the Egyptian market is one of the largest in the MENA region. Its good relations with other countries in the Middle East and North Africa offer advantages in exporting to the region.

Environmental Opportunities in Egypt

The critical need to manage natural resources, particularly water and arable land, dominate the environmental agenda. The Egyptian government is focussing on the more efficient use of these natural resources, while simultaneously improving the urban environment and protecting its enormous archeological heritage.

The government has allocated US$2.6B to execute its Environmental Action Plan through to the year 2007. The Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) is the new governmental authority responsible for managing this sector and its activities. With the expiration in March 1998 of a three year grace period to polluting companies provided under the Environmental Protection Law 4, it is expected that the EEAA will be given more power and resources to enable it to enforce the law's requirements.

The EEAA sector areas of action include:

Environmental monitoring;
Urban air pollution;
Land and water resources;
Hazardous industrial waste;
Coastal zone management;
Municipal solid waste;
Cultural heritage;
Awareness and education.
The environmental sector in Egypt offers significant potential for world suppliers. The sector offers good opportunities for those companies interested in entering the market on the ground floor. Canadian firms have the advantage of a pristine reputation in both business and the environment. The potential for mutual long-term cooperation clearly exists.

Investment Climate

Egypt's economy has experienced a remarkable turnaround in recent years. World attention is now focused on Egypt as an emerging market, with a new investment grade (triple B minus long-term debt rating awarded by Standard and Poor's in January 1997) bringing in a steady flow of foreign capital to the country's rapidly growing stock market. Real growth rates are soon expected to exceed 5%, inflation is under control, foreign exchange reserves have topped US$19B, the Egyptian pound (Teiastras) is steady, and structural reform is underway.

This assistance also builds on world expertise and fosters commercial relations between the world and Egypt that encourage private sector development.

World Bank: Investment in the environment will total approximately US$300-500M during Phase I of Egypt's Action Plan. The necessary funds will be sourced through various donors and IFIs. The investment program for Phase II will be even larger ) equivalent to about US$1B. Specific opportunities for Canadians include: MSW incinerators, water and wastewater (industrial) treatment and purification systems, sewage treatment facilities and engineering, technology and consulting services.

METAP: The Mediterranean Environmental Technology Assistance Program, another program of the World Bank, is a regional facility and is now in its third and final phase (1996-2000). A budget of $100M has been allocated to this phase and will be used to implement concrete projects in three integrated priority areas: capacity building, participation and partnerships; pollution prevention in 'hot spots'; and, integrated water and coastal areas resource management.

USAID: The Cairo Air Improvement Project (CAIP) is a US$56M funded 7-year project begun in July 1997 under the umbrella of the EEAA. CAIP addresses lead emissions in small, private smelting facilities; converting public transportation to natural gas; adjusting vehicle emissions, air quality monitoring in Cairo; policy development for controlling lead in the environment; public education and outreach; and, analytical comparisons and identification of other contaminants.

Customer comments

No comments were found for Environmental Situation in Africa. Be the first to comment!