ZUZIWE NYARELI

SOUTH AFRICA

'It  was a delightful childhood experience growing up in semi-arid rural  areas of the Eastern Cape near Tsomo, South Africa, with my three  sisters. Between the 1970s and 1990s, we lived in less crowded and  polluted environments because our parents were self-sufficient through  farming, organic food production, sewing projects, and various other  income-generating activities in the absence of government subsidies. But  child pregnancy has never been as common as it is now. Modernization,  new policies, and political advancement have resulted in girls as young  as 12 years old giving birth. Childbirth is now used to earn more  government social grants to finance various needs and alleviate poverty  due to a lack of sustainable income generation options. The social  aspects of the school curriculum are empowering children about sexuality  and options for preventing young pregnancy. The majority of the rural  landscapes in the Eastern Cape in former Transkei are dominated by  non-productive, severely degraded land and many abandoned cultivated  fields.

Natural  resources have vanished, and we no longer see medicinal plants in the  wild as frequently as we did a few decades ago. Water resources were  depleted a long time ago. Overconsumption resulting from political  pressure, socioeconomic demand, and unsustainable natural resource  harvesting has resulted in many environmental issues. Sustainable  solutions should address the relevant questions on reducing consumption  rates, reducing people's vulnerabilities, and increasing their  resilience, as we have done in the past few decades. More landscape  recovery initiatives are needed to ensure sustainable resource  management in the face of climate change, rising population, demands for  food, and other valuable services derived from natural resources.  

Overconsumption is linked to a large population, high unemployment rate,  a lack of long-term household income-generating options, and various  political goals. People and decision-makers are putting pressure on  remaining natural ecosystems to generate more food and provide a living  space to address the past injustices. Is it sustainable, though? The  recent looting in South Africa's KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces  demonstrates our failure to care for ourselves.'

ZUZIWE NYARELI