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UN, others fear for debt crisis, food insecurity in Africa

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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and relevant stakeholders have expressed concern regarding the COVID-19 impact on Africa, warning that debt crisis and food insecurity could worsen due to the pandemic.

Unless serious efforts are taken to address the situation, UNEP’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, warned that lack of medical supplies and loss of income and livelihoods would aggravate prevailing suffering.

During a virtual event organised by the International Support Network for African Development (ISNAD-Africa) in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as part of efforts to implement the Africa4Nature Health Initiative, Koudenoukpo stressed that “a looming debt crisis, as well as related security and political risks could be significant going by the situation.”

She said the United Nations would implement a green stimulus recovery programme for Africa as part of post-COVID-19 recovery plans for the continent.

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“This will go a long way in resetting African states’ economies on a pathway towards a more environmentally sustainable and low-carbon development,” Koudenoukpo added.

While raising concern over environmental degradation on the continent, the UNEP chief said since the environment benefits everyone, nature should be a concern to every country.

According to her, poverty and environmental links affect development prospects, especially in Africa.

She added that the disease was a wake-up call for better attention to nature.

The last three decades, Koudenoukpo submitted, witnessed “commendable commitments and efforts of African governments in terms of awareness about the environment.”

The UN official stated that the level of success was achieved through formation of management institutions, non-governmental organisations, regional and sub-regional bodies to address various challenges with common decisions and implementation of appropriate measures.

On the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, usually conveyed by the global organisation, Koudenoukpo pointed out that the development had influenced agenda globally.

She went on: “The short and medium-term goal is to encourage countries to act towards environmental conservation through implementation of policies, relevant regional and global frameworks, as well as all ministers’ decisions.

“The long-term goal is to contribute to Africa’s environmental sustainability and prosperity, and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and African Union Agenda 2063.”

Founder of ISNAD-Africa, Adedoyin Adeleke, while speaking on the Africa4Nature Health Initiative, noted that the project is to ensure green and just recovery in line with the call from the United Nations for governments to develop strategies for a more resilient planet post-COVID-19.

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