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.'