Wanted: Repair

Monday 15 March 2004

Desk Study on the Environment in Liberia Post-Conflict Assessment Unit, United Nations Environment Programme (unep)

This report has a simple message: after 15 years of war, repairing the damage done to the environment is crucial to Liberia's future. Based on detailed research, the report points out that "Collections of urban and municipal waste had all but ceased as a result of the conflict, leading to waste mountains and forcing local people to burn their rubbish, creating air pollution and further threats to human health." Damaged water and sewage systems apart, the lack of electricity forces people to fell trees for fuel; this has damaged habitats such as mangrove swamps. Also, poaching of wild animals for food has sharply intensified over recent years, partly as a result of a rapid penetration of roads and labourers into forest areas to support illegal logging. "In modern Africa, environmental security and effective and fair resource governance are at the very heart of peacemaking and peacekeeping," says unep executive director Kalus Topfer. "The misuse of natural resources has not only been a source of conflict in Liberia and the wider region, but has also sustained it." The report makes 60 recommendations on saving the country's battered environment.

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