Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

taking careSustainable development is one of the most significant challenges facing Sub-Saharan Africa. Sustainable development centers on socio-economic and political issues relating mainly to the subjects of health and the exploitation and management of our non-renewable resources.  It is my conviction that the journey to ideological and social transformation resulting in positive and effective interventions begins when people at an individual level act out of conviction and begin to take personal responsibility in bringing about positive change. The critical goal is to change the pervasive proliferation of negative practices and re-invent the ideologies critical to effectively slowing down the resource depletion that is currently taking place. Sustainable development aims to establish a system of resource consumption that meets the current needs of humanity and leaves the environment healthy enough to regenerate for future generations. The scope of sustainable development is wide and many areas of life can fall under this broad definition. The following are some of the most important issues central to the subject of sustainable development;

Fresh Water

According to the UN Global Report on ‘Resource Sustainability-Third World Regions 2012’, the challenge of fresh water is going to be one of the most critical challenges affecting global communities. This same challenge is very real and imminent in Sub-Saharan Africa with the threat of Cholera and other deadly diseases always looming in the background.

It is estimated that 60% of the world’s water will be contaminated if effective strategies are not implemented immediately to reverse the spoilage of this essential bio resource. The responsibility of addressing this burden cannot be shouldered by governments alone but must be tackled in a broader forum.


One of the main issues of sustainable development is figuring out how to best distribute the continent’s wealth. In a free society, disparities are always going to exist. A truly sustainable society/nation would give all its citizens (especially youths) the opportunity to access financial resources or capital.


Health is inextricably linked to sustainable development. In areas where poverty is rampant and resources are not provided equitably to all members of society, the individuals at the lower levels of the economic strata suffer tremendously in terms of health. Nutritious food is limited in these areas as well as access to adequate medicine and medical health professionals. When infectious diseases like AIDS are brought into the mix this issue quickly becomes an epidemic.

These three issues are some of the most important issues to sustainable development, but other areas like agriculture technology, sanitation, human settlements, biotechnology, and many others are frontiers for the dynamic challenges on the subject.

The young people of Sub-Saharan Africa have an enormous stake in the present and future state of their continent. Almost half of the human population in this continent consists of young individuals below the age of thirty. If the young people’s resources of energy, time, and knowledge are misdirected towards violence, terrorism, socially-isolating technologies and unsustainable consumption, the whole civilization is at risk of being destabilized.

A positively transformational agenda provides the young people of this continent an opportunity to participate positively in all aspects of the sustainable development programs. In order to do so young people need education, political support, resources, skills, and ultimately hope.

The development of youth leadership in Africa has been much of central concern. Young people have a lot to offer towards sustainable development and should participate in planning for our nation’s future.

By: Buhlebenkosi Mglanga, intern at WYA Africa