Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent aside Asia. The climate of Africa ranges from tropical to subarctic on its highest peaks. Its northern half is primarily desert or arid, while its central and southern areas contain both savanna plains and very dense jungle(rainforest) regions. Africa is the hottest continent on earth; dry lands and deserts comprise 60% of the entire land surface.
Africa is rich in cultural, historical and natural environmental heritage which includes festivals, music, crafts and arts, forts and castles, waterfalls, crocodile ponds etc. Also, Africa is the most multilingual continent in the world, and it is not rare for individuals to fluently speak not only multiple African languages. According to the Ethnologue website, there are currently 2,110 living languages spoken in Africa, which represents over 30% of the world living languages. There are three (3) major religions in Africa namely Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion. A small number of Africans are Hindu, Buddhist etc.
Africa is seen as the cradle of the human race and historically the cradle of civilization. It is a bright continent with adequate material resources for development. Although it has abundant natural resources, Africa remains the world's poorest and most underdeveloped continent in the world. Due to this, Africa is referred to as the Dark Continent and Africans no matter their standard of education and achievements are looked down upon and ridiculed everywhere.
According to the United Nations' Human Development Report in 2003, the bottom 25 ranked nations (151st to 175th) are all African countries. This report takes a look at some problems affecting the lives of Africans today and the way forward.
To live a healthy life, people are advice to drink more water. Water is a life wire of the human blood and this highlight how important and crucial the survival of the human race is dependent on water (Yerevan, 2001). In developing countries, 1.1 billion people have no access to safe drinking water (Gadgil, 1998, p. 253). In Africa surface water or underground water is the traditional source of water for most rural and small communities' aside rain water.
Groundwater: Solution to Ghana's rural water supply industry" (1999) established that 50.5% of the rural population of Ghana depends on surface waters such as streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, dams and dugouts. Only 0.05% of the rural population depends on rainwater harvesting due to the poor annual rainfall pattern in many parts of the country. While 40.7% depends on boreholes and wells and 0.7% rely on springs. Most people have to walk long distance in search of water either clean or not. In developing countries, 1.1 billion people have no access to safe drinking water (Gadgil, 1998, p. 253). The consequence of inaccessibility to safe drinking water is that half of the above mentioned population suffers from at least one of the six prevalent water related diseases (diarrhea, ascaris, dracunculisis, hookworm, schistosomiasis or bilharzia, and trachoma). ). In terms of its effect on children, it translates into a death rate of 400 children (under the age of 5) per hour or 4 million children annually, and always in developing countries (p. 254).
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has now spread to every country in the world. Statistics show that approximately 40 million people are currently living with HIV infection, and an estimated 25 million have died from this disease. the scourge of HIV has been particularly devastating in SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA. An estimated 22.9 million people are living with HIV in the region - around two thirds of the global total. There were 24.5 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa living with HIV. Globally, 64% of all people living with HIV live in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2010 around 1.2 million people died from aids in Sub-Saharan Africa and 1.9 million people became infected with HIV. Since the beginning of the epidemic 14.8 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. The aids epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to devastate communities, rolling back decades of development progress.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the direct medical cost of aids has been estimated at about us$30 per year for each person infected. Overall public health spending is less than us$10 per year in most African countries. Tapping into available savings and taking on more debt are usually the first options chosen by households struggling to pay for medical treatment or funerals. As debts mount, precious assets such as livestock and even land are sold, and as debt increases, the chance to recover and rebuild diminishes.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has affected and continuous to affect Africans in diverse ways. Many households in Africa dissolve because of aids, this is because parents die and children are sent to relatives for care and upbringing. Often both parents are HIV positive in Africa; consequently more children have been orphaned by aids in Africa than anywhere else.
Also the vast majority of people living with HIV in Africa are between the ages of 15 and 49 - in the prime of their working lives. As a result, labor is dramatically affected, creating a set-back in economic and social progress. The epidemic hits productivity through increased absenteeism, which can account for as much as 25-54% of company costs according to comparative studies of east African businesses.
Government income also declines, as tax revenues fall and governments are pressured to increase their spending to deal with the expanding epidemic.
Poverty is increasingly assuming an African face, and eradicating it has become a predominantly African challenge. Although the region currently accounts for only 10 percent of the world's population, it now accommodates 30 percent of the world's poor.
According to the 2009 UN MDG report, in 1990, the baseline year for the MDGs, 57% of the population of Africa was living in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.25 a day.
Malaria is one of the most prolific and virulent diseases in the world. While most of the developed countries have eradicated malaria, the disease still kills over a million people a year in the poorer countries of the world. Malaria is an important social, economic, and developmental problem affecting individuals, families and communities in Africa.
In the last decade, the prevalence of malaria has been escalating at an alarming rate, especially in Africa. An estimated 300 to 500 million cases each year cause 1.5 to 2.7 million deaths, more than 90% in children under 5 years of age in Africa. Malaria has been estimated to cause 2.3% of global disease and 9% of disease in Africa; it ranks third among major infectious disease threats in Africa after pneumococcal acute respiratory infections (3.5%) and tuberculosis (TB) (2.8%).
Environmental problems constitute one of the key challenges on the African continent in the 21st century. The quality and richness of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments have been polluted and subsequently declined. This has been exacerbated by rapid population growth, urbanization, energy consumption(the use of wood for fuel), overgrazing, over-cultivation of lands, and industrial advancements engendered by globalization there by leading to one or more of these problems; depletion of farming lands leading to famine, depletion of natural habitat for aquatic and land animals, deforestation subsequently leading to desertification etc.
Environmental challenges are aggravated by population growth in Africa. At approximately 2.2 percent annually, sub-Saharan Africa has one of the world's fastest growing populations. By the year 2025 the population of Africa is estimated to be over a billion. This means that environmental
According to International Labor Organization (ILO) statistics, 41 percent of children under age 14, approximately 80 million, are working. This number is almost twice the Asian rate. Poverty appears to be the major reason for child labor. As the poorest continent, Africa has a higher incidence of child labor, which is further differentiated within the continent itself. Countries in which large shares of children are working are, on average, poor countries. As Basu (1999) states it, sending their children into the labor force is the family's last income earning resort.
By child labor we mean labor performed by children believed to be too young, meaning that by doing so they unduly reduce their present economic welfare or their future income earning capabilities, either by shrinking their future external choice sets or by reducing their own future, individual productive capabilities.
Agriculture is a crucial economic activity, providing employment and livelihoods for many and serving as the basis for many industries. About 203 million people, or 56.6 percent of the total labor force, were engaged in agricultural labor in 2002. In most African countries, agriculture supports the survival and well-being of up to 70 percent of the population. Thus, for many, their livelihoods are directly affected by environmental changes, both sudden and gradual, which impact on agricultural productivity.
The irony is that, despite the majority of the total labor force working in agriculture, the region is still unable to feed its growing population. For example, between 20 and 75 percent of the population in 29 countries in Central, Western, Eastern and Southern Africa were reported in 2004 to be undernourished. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where 75 percent of the total populations of 51 million people were reported to be undernourished, 50 percent of infant mortality is related to malnutrition. Poor nutrition impacts on health, education and the opportunity to participate fully in community and public affairs. Most often women and children carry a disproportionate burden from food insecurity.
The major challenge to food security in Africa is its underdeveloped agricultural sector that is characterized by over-reliance on primary agriculture, low fertility soils, minimal use of external farm inputs, environmental degradation, significant food crop loss both pre- and post-harvest, minimal value addition and product differentiation, and inadequate food storage an preservation that result in significant commodity price fluctuation. Ninety five percent of the food in Sub Saharan Africa is grown under rain fed agriculture.