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UN raises alarm on wildlife encroachment

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To Reduce One Billion Yearly Illnesses

As animal or plant to man diseases, such as Ebola, bird flu, Lassa Fever, Coronavirus and others, continue to threaten humanity, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has warned Africa and other continents to avoid conflict with nature, via stopping encroachment by cropland onto wildlife spaces.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about one billion cases of illness and millions of deaths occur yearly from zoonoses, as 60 per cent of emerging infectious diseases reported globally are zoonoses, with 30 new human pathogens being detected in the last three decades.

Zoonoses are diseases and infections naturally transmitted between people and vertebrate animals. 

Director, UNFCCC Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), Rose Mwebaza, in a document obtained by The Guardian, as part of a chat with International Support Network for African Development (ISNAD-Africa) to campaign on New Deal for Nature under the sponsorship of the Africa arm of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), noted that continued erosion of wild spaces, especially forests and ecosystems, has brought the continent uncomfortably close to “reservoir hosts.”

With the World Bank projection of over 5.2 percent contraction in global GDP in 2020, as well as over 7,762,928 cases 428,723 death from Coronavirus alone, Mwebaza said: “We need to reclaim our forests, stop deforestation and invest in managing protected areas and our land better. Encroachment by croplands onto wildlife habitats is a major factor in bringing people into dangerous conflict with wildlife…

“Healthy, functioning ecosystems are central to a post-COVID world, and we must continue to push for progress on strengthening policy frameworks that are vital to making this happen.”

Speaking on the post-COVID19 recovery plan, especially how policymakers could leverage nature conservation and biodiversity, in reducing future emergencies of zoonotic diseases, Mwebaza stressed the need to monitor risks of reduced or weakened enforcement of environmental laws, as part of COVID-19 response to buck the emerging trend of countries relaxing environmental laws during the pandemic.

The Executive Director/International Support Network for Africa Development, Adedoyin Adeleke, said the programme aimed to study, analyse and communicate various inter-linkages between COVID-19, nature conservation and biodiversity. 


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