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Finding natural resources :A blessing or curse?
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Finding natural resources :A blessing or curse?

Natural resources can help or hurt a country, writes Metolo Foyet, 21, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Cameroon now living in Niger, who argues that economic volatility and environmental degradation are two of the downsides to having certain natural resources. In some countries the exploitation of natural resources has even led to war.

Natural resources can be a powerful driver for development, attracting investment, reducing unemployment and increasing public revenues but they can also be a curse. According to Coordinator of Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) Negbalee Warner, Liberia’s thirteen years of civil war was prompted by the fact that the government and companies sustained good relationships despite the meaningless impact of the latter on the lives of the people, after many years of exploitation of the country’s natural resources.

In numerous cases, instead of sustainable prosperity, the discovery of natural resources has either led to economic setbacks such as economic volatility from over-dependence on that natural resource, reduced diversification, corruption, theft, and political conflict. Poor public policies and mismanagement, and tribal clashes have also been associated with the finding and exploitation of natural resources. As indicated by late Chief Feyide, former Secretary-General of  the Organization of Petroleum  Exporting Countries (OPEC), oil has become a key element in defining the politics and rhetoric of states. It keeps industrialized countries working and provides revenues which enable oil exporters to execute ambitious national and economic development plans. Yet behind this deification of oil, little is said about its impact on the environment.

Human activities generate approximately 0.7-1.7 million tons of spillage of petroleum per year into the oceans, seas and rivers. These spills have posed a major threat to the environment of the oil producing areas and in many instances have destroyed ecosystems. The Niger Delta figures among the top five most severely petroleum damaged ecosystems in the world. From unsustainable oil exploration emerge noise pollution, contaminated forests, streams and rivers, which represent the major income source for the majority of the local population inhabiting the region and largely dependent on ecosystem services.

Deforestation and the loss of soil fertility affect agricultural production and lead to famine and diseases while sewage and wastewater pollution, riverbank and coastal erosion put citizen’s at risk. The effects of  extracting natural resources from the environment can have far-reaching effects on the people, land and aquatic life.

When countries pursue the exploration and extraction of natural resources with dreams of economic development , it’s important to remember that natural resources can be both a blessing and  a curse and that governments put the necessary processes and policies in place to prevent some of these negatives associated with the extraction and sale of natural resources.

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photo credit: Sourced via pixabay (license)

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About me: I am a social entrepreneur with a focus on education, agriculture and cybersecurity.

I have a track record of adding value to organisations by delivering innovative projects that engage stakeholders. I have expertise in public affairs, strategic communications, translation, research and development, product design, grassroots development and project management across the not-for-profit and private sectors.I paint, write, and am an environmental, travel and sports enthusiast. I envision a career in the public service, especially the UN.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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