Poverty and environmental degradation 'are linked in a vicious circle in which people cannot afford to take proper care of the environment' (SARDC, IUCN and SADC 1994). Poverty has been and remains a major cause and consequence of environmental degradation and resource depletion.
The poverty of Africa's poor is both a cause and a consequence of accelerating soil degradation and declining agricultural productivity. Poverty reduction is thus the major challenge for those responsible for policy and decision making on the protection and sustainable use of land resources in Africa.
The main cause of many environmental problems is the persistence of economic, agricultural, energy, industrial and other sectoral policies which largely neglect – and fail to avoid – harmful impacts on the environment and natural resource base.