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  • Writer's pictureChrissie Okorie

Sustainable Africa

For many years rural African villages have preserved the traditional ways of living that their ancestors passed down to them. Using traditional cookery to cook their food. Building stoves from mud mixes and wood. Rural Africans have used sustainable ways of living for years. From growing their own fruits and veg to washing their clothing with their hands. It has been a simple way of life for them. However, there has been conversation around sustainable urbanisation in African countries, looking at how villages and towns can be redeveloped to meet the sustainable goals set by the UN.

It sounds great, doesn't it? Having running water 24/7 will mean more young girls can go to school instead of trekking miles to fetch it. Running electricity will mean more uses of technological advancement for young people, allowing them to start a business, learn a new skill or complete their studies. A sustainable Africa will help countries build a good economic structure and lifestyle for their citizens.

However, all of this does come with an expense. Major cities in Africa have taken the western way of living and communing. Many parents work full-time in white-collar jobs leading to them finishing later than usual. It has really destroyed the nuclear family that has been part of African tradition for years, leaving only rural towns and villages that still uphold it. Many ways of communing with loved ones have changed over the years in African cities, as many people would rather go to restaurants than cook and eat traditional foods at home. Many young Africans are slowly beginning to lose their culture and traditional ways of living.

Having a new sustainable Africa would mean the reconstruction of kitchens. While it will lead to some improvements in lifestyle, it will affect the way households cook traditional foods. This is because clay pots cannot be used on electric stoves as they were created mainly for wood fire. Outdoor cooking promotes communalism, allowing families to gather, encouraging fellowship together by cooking and sharing food with each other. Having new housing means that more families are unable to breed chickens or other live animals.

Another reason why sustainability in Africa may not work is because of the structure of villages and townships, especially when it comes to electric poles. Many rural areas in Africa are overcrowded and have poor roads and potholes. It can be dangerous to have electric poles in those areas, as it is advised that residents should live more than 600 metres from a power line. This is impossible in rural spaces because houses and shops are built close together, making it impossible to connect power lines to the area. Many places have their power lines on farms far away from residential areas. However, there have been some complaints from farmers who say that having a power line on their farms is affecting the health and safety of their workers.

In rural settings, another issue is potholes. Many electric poles are installed in unsafe spaces where there are damaged drains and potholes. In Congo, there was an incident when an electric pole was struck by lightning and killed 26 people. The market traders say this was due to badly maintained potholes in the town. When thinking about sustainable Africa, a plan needs to be created so that the roads, potholes and drains are repaired and well looked after.

On paper, having rural Africa urbanised sounds good. A new way of life, possibly leading to better living conditions and opportunities for the younger generation. However, it does have its disadvantages that could cause the next generation to lose their culture and traditions to a western way of living. If a re-development of roads in rural areas is not considered, then they could be a major health and safety issue which could lead to the loss of human life. A sustainable Africa has to really consider the preservation of traditional ways of living.

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