Volume 5/2

Emeka Polycarp Amechi

Poverty, Socio-Political Factors and Degradation of the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Need For a Holistic Approach to the Protection of the Environment and Realisation of the Right to Environment

The right to environment is a recognised human right in Africa. However, despite the legal and institutional frameworks designed to respect, promote, protect and fulfil the right, its enjoyment is still a mirage to majority of African citizens as a result of environmental degradation. This article aims to proffer a holistic or integrated approach to tackling the problem of environmental degradation in sub-Saharan Africa in order to enhance the protection of the environment and the realisation of this right in the region. It recognises that the problem of environmental degradation in the region is not due to lack of regulatory frameworks, but rather due to other factors that are mainly socio-economic and political in nature. It argues that to enhance the protection of the environment and realisation of this right in sub-Saharan Africa, African governments must adopt a holistic approach towards the protection of the environment, and proposes the promotion of good governance and socio-economic reform in the region as an integral core of such approach.

Ross Andrew Clarke

Securing Communal Land Rights to Achieve Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Critical Analysis and Policy Implications

While the concept of sustainable development gains increasing traction under international law, effective and scalable policies to translate these principles into practice remain largely beyond reach. This article analyses one possible strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa – increasing security of communal tenure to improve resource management and achieve rural sustainable development. Although this approach has attracted some attention, particularly with management responsibility of communal property increasingly devolved to the community-level, the expected results in terms of more sustainable resource exploitation and sounder environmental management have yet to be realised. Through critical analysis, with particular emphasis on the Gestion Terroir approach in Burkina Faso , the article explores the reasons behind the limited success. The article suggests that greater emphasis must be placed on bridging statutory command-and-control regimes with community-based models. Focusing on the links between communal land tenure and environmental management, and effectively embedding community land management institutions within existing environmental governance structures offers a practical model to promote sustainable development.

Evanson Chege Kamau

Facilitating or Restraining Access To Genetic Resources? Procedural Dimensions In Kenya

States have the right to regulate access to biological resources subject to national legislations. Allowing, restricting or prohibiting access, however, requires a balance to avoid contravention of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Convention requires that, in regulating access, the measures adopted do not become a hindrance to access. In many instances, however, this has been the case. Overreaction to previous cases of bio-piracy and over-enthusiasm to tap into the benefits from discovered genetic resources have caused many provider countries to either over-regulate or extremely complicate access procedures, thus deterring access. In some instances, over-regulation and complex procedures are to be blamed on the users’ reluctance to collaborate with providers in minimising or eliminating abuse. Also, the need to protect certain rights over genetic resources or of an intellectual (property) character, for example, might at times complicate regulation. While it is appreciated that such issues must also be taken into account in addressing and creating a balance in access and benefit sharing, a discussion embracing all these aspects cannot be captured within the ambit of this article. Focus is therefore laid on the procedural dimensions of access in Kenya and suggestions for improvement.

Alan Andrews

Beyond the Ban – can the Basel Convention adequately Safeguard the Interests of the World’s Poor in the International Trade of Hazardous Waste?

The Basel Convention was intended to prevent developing countries from being used as a dumping ground for the world’s toxic waste, a phenomenon often described as “toxic colonialism”. However, as the Abidjan disaster in 2006 demonstrated, the Convention is failing to prevent industrialised countries from exporting their hazardous waste to developing countries which lack the capacity to safely dispose of it.

Whilst environmental NGOs, the European Union and many developing nations continue to advocate a blanket ban on trade in hazardous waste, this is a misguided response which has proved difficult to enforce.

The Basel Convention contains the basic procedural mechanisms and institutional structures within which international trade of hazardous waste can be based. However, some key institutional reforms and far greater financial resources are urgently required if it is to adequately safeguard the world’s poor in the international trade of hazardous waste. These reforms need to be based on a recognition that the Prior Informed Consent procedure is inadequate in the context of north-south hazardous waste trade, where competition for crucial foreign revenue puts pressure on the governments of developing countries to consent to imports of waste that they do not have the capacity to manage without incurring potentially disastrous harm to human health and the environment.


Court-Appointed Monitoring Committees: The Case of the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority

by Geetanjoy Sahu & Armin Rosencranz


The premise of this paper is that, despite the existence of a well-established regulatory framework to enforce environmental laws and policies in each state of India, there has been a variation in the implementation of environmental judgments. This paper argues that an independent and proactive Court-appointed monitoring committee, namely the Dahanu Taluka Environmental Protection Authority (DTEPA), has not only ensured the effective implementation of environmental laws but has also exposed the anti-environment bias of both the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the State Government of Maharashtra. Further, the DTEPA has created a space for civil society groups and other stakeholders to be part of the monitoring committee to help implement Court directions. The paper also discusses how the DTEPA’s inclusive approach has empowered the local people to participate in decision-making that affects their environment. It is argued that judicial intervention in the implementation of its decisions has become crucial to enforce its directions, and that this intervention is undertaken not to take away the power and functions of implementing agency, but rather to translate its directions into action at the grassroots level. Finally, the paper offers recommendations to monitoring committees in other environmental cases that are faced with political pressure or industrial lobbying.

Volume 5/1

Allan Ingelson, William Holden & Meriam Bravante

Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment, Mining and Genuine Development

Genuine development reflects sustainability. To promote genuine development in the context of mining, the environmental impact assessment process in the Philippines needs to be changed to respect ecological integrity, mitigate cumulative environmental effects, provide more information on environmental impacts to residents affected by a proposed mine and facilitate meaningful public participation in the impact assessment process.

Nicola Colbran

Will Jakarta Be The Next Atlantis? Excessive Groundwater Use Resulting From A Failing Piped Water Network

This article examines the connection between a failing piped water network and excessive groundwater use in Jakarta. It discusses the political history of the city’s piped water network, which was privatised in 1998, and how privatisation was intended to increase access to clean, safe water for its residents. The article asserts that this has not eventuated, and that tap water remains costly, unreliable and does not provide noticeable benefits when compared with groundwater. The result is that households, industry, businesses, luxury apartment complexes and hotels choose alternative water sources and distribution methods, in particular groundwater. This is having an unsustainable impact on groundwater levels and Jakarta ‘s natural environment, causing significant land subsidence, pollution and salinisation of aquifers, and increased levels of flooding. The effect is so severe that the World Bank has predicted much of Jakarta will be inundated by seawater in 2025, rendering one third of the city uninhabitable and displacing millions. The article concludes by discussing and assessing the steps the government has taken to address excessive and unlicensed groundwater use. These steps include new regulations on groundwater, a public awareness campaign on the importance of groundwater and a commitment to improve the raw water supplied to the piped water network. However, the article observes that the government is yet to develop long term policies for improvement of the network itself. The question therefore remains, has the government done enough, or will groundwater use continue unabated making Jakarta the next lost city of Atlantis?

Nixon Sifuna

Public Regulation of the Use of Private Land : Opportunities and Challenges in Kenya

In Kenya land is not only one of the most valuable belongings of any person, but a natural heritage that sustains all life forms and one that has to pass on from generation to generation by inheritance. Besides, land is a rather sensitive and emotive issue, for instance, having been central issue in the struggle for independence from colonialism. It is imperative therefore that land be used efficiently and responsibly to ensure it is available to posterity and in a form equitable and beneficial to the present as well as the future generations. Despite its importance, however, land in Kenya is a scarce resource that has to be available to competing uses and needs. It is also a resource whose use may result in environmental harm and degradation, jeopardise the interests of future generations in such land or negatively impact on its various uses. To ensure its efficient use and appropriate distribution of its benefits in the country, there is need for regulation of the use of any land irrespective of its regime of tenure in the public interest-whether is under state ownership, community (communal) ownership or private ownership. The power to regulate the use of private land is generally vested in state and is usually exercised by public institutions and officers on behalf of the state and for the citizenry. Indeed a legitimate government especially that which has been popularly and democratically elected by the people is a custodian of the public interest and welfare of the citizens, with the mandate to act on their behalf. Apart from state and governmental entities, this regulation is also exercised by local management institutions, most of which are informal. Despite its beneficial value in terms of promoting the public good, the exercise of the power of public regulation of private land in Kenya faces numerous challenges. Indeed this power if properly employed can not only enforce and promote the public good but ensure sustainable land use practices as well. In order that it may effectively play this noble role there is need to attenuate challenges while at the same time maintaining appropriate and effective safeguards to guard against its abuse or misuse to avoid mischief.

Emeka Polycarp Amechi

Enhancing Environmental Protection and Socio-Economic Development in Africa: A Fresh Look at the Right to a General Satisfactory Environment under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights

The African Charter to Human and Peoples’ Rights is an innovative document as it is the first human rights albeit regional instrument to provide for a substantive right to environment. However, the right as provided under the Charter is encumbered as it is linked to the promotion of development. Such linkage has led to the argument that the right can only be invoked where it will not infringe the requirements of socio-economic development. While this issue appears to have engaged the attention of most commentators, there has not been much enquiry into what the right aims to achieve and the implication for the achievement of sustainable development objectives including environmental protection and poverty reduction in Africa. This article therefore seeks to evaluate the utility of the right to the pursuit of sustainable development objectives in Africa.


The Gap Between Theory and Practice of Stakeholder Participation: The Case of Management of The Korle Lagoon, Ghana

by Frederick Ato Armah, David Oscar Yawson & Alkan Olsson Johanna


Participation of stakeholders at the local level is evolving as a mechanism to address complex environmental problems, not least water pollution. Participation has been used as a tool for the economic and social empowerment of settlements within the catchment of the Korle lagoon in Ghana, particularly residents of the Old Fadama community that live in proximity to the lagoon. Using direct observations and survey of stakeholder groups, the paper examines the structure and process of participation of stakeholders in Korle lagoon resource use and water policy formulation and implementation with regard to Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project (KLERP). The results show that exclusion of stakeholders generates conflict and antagonism which hinders the implementation of water resource policy. Alliances of stakeholders in the participatory process have served as pressure points compelling government to negotiate with civil society on behalf of the community. In theory, participation holds promise to address conflict, however in practice, a number of factors that feed into conflict characterise the process of participation in this case, such as ineffective information flow in the community, agency-structure dynamics, historical antecedents among the ethnic groups and low-levels of communication. These gaps jointly undermine the full participation of the Old Fadama community in lagoon management.

The Influx of Used Electronics into Africa : A Perilous Trend

Aniyie Ifeanyichukwu Azuka

The quantity of used electronics that is being discarded worldwide has reached crisis level. Alarming is the constituents of these items as well as the ways the generators of these items have dealt with them and are dealing with them. This essay aims to educate as regards the ruinous consequence of the present scheme of handling and management of used electronics in the world. To achieve the foregoing, the essay amongst other things, establishes the relationship between used electronics and e-waste; identifies the source of the seemingly unending deluge of used electronics in Africa as well as theorises in respect of the continuing movement that same is motivated by economic forces. The essay ends with a few postulations that are believed to be capable of stemming the tide of the influx of used electronics into Africa.