In 2015 the United Nation outlined 17 life changing goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for every one by 2030.
Grateful for this global commitment to work together to ensure no one is left behind, I am constrained to bring to the attention of the world a critical factor that can serve as obstacles towards the realization of these great goals. While some of these global goals do not have inbuilt strategies to solve border security and trans-border crime, not solving border criminality can be linked to non- realization of these goals. Hence, the urgency of United Nation to double efforts in tackling world border security problems.
- Sustainable goal 1 (No Poverty) remains a pipe dream in Africa. Order insecurity has frustrated economic activities in our orders, as private sector motivated economic activities keeps dwindling. Thus, frustrating and threatening the realization of this goal. The numbers of poor people continue to rise in Sub Sahara Africa. Presently, more than a quarter of hungry live on African continent. www.worldbank.org
- While the United sustainable goal 2 is to fight against hunger, Trans-border criminality has increased farmers/herders clashes, kidnapping, cattle rustling, frustrating agricultural activities thereby exacerbating hunger. Experts have warned that areas like the Sahel region may face catastrophe unless action is taken to improve agriculture. Somalia and Southern Sudan have been proclaimed a hunger emergency by UN, IN 2017, 28 Countries in Africa depended on food Aid (Food Agricultural Organization).
- In some Northeast states despite frantic effort to curtail insurgency in border communities the ratio of patient to a doctor remains more than 1/ 5000. Health workers are victims of kidnapping and often time killed. Presently, Sub-Saharan African Countries has the highest infant mortality rate 1 out f 11 children dies before their 5th birthday. Covid 19 pandemic which sneaked through our borders has left thousands of children orphans. The conflict in Ethiopia; Tigray region is presently worsening health situations in Aksum an ancient city once declared as world heritage by UNESCO.
- Conflicts have caused the diversion of resources for educational development. Cross border criminals kidnap school children and cross with them. Presently, the number of girl child out of school has increased to 3 million in Sub-Saharan Africa. The fear of being kidnapped by these trans- border unknown gun men has made parents to keep their kids out of school. 59 million children between the ages of 15-17 work instead of go to school.
- Empowering women and girls to take control of their lives is a panacea to the realization of the SDGs. In Africa, women are still subjected to harmful practices, women are used as suicide bombers, drug peddlers by these trans-border criminal actors. International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance reports that it will be difficult to achieve global goal of gender parity come 2030.
- The combinations of climate change, continuous infiltration of illegal migrant herders have increased resource ownership conflict. Dryness of Sahara has made herders move, open human defecation, animal waste, increasing the number of people without safe drinking water to a staggering 320 million population in Africa lacks access to water and sanitation.
- Energy is central to almost every developmental challenge but insurgency has disrupted coordinated effort to realize affordable and clean energy. No doubt trans-border criminals vandalize infrastructure around the borders and discourage potential investors who have interest to compliment the efforts of the government to guarantee clean affordable energy.
- A high number of young dependents make economic prosperity almost impossible. Many youths die daily in the hands of human trafficking cartels, thus, directly undermining the engine room of the African economy. Sustainable development goals remain a ruse without a gainfully employed youth population.
- The Lake Chad, basin that borders Nigeria, has suffered great loss in infrastructure and Industries, due to acts of insurgency. Construction and innovation is hampered by trans- border conflicts. In Nigeria for example, railway engineers changed some rail tracks because the initial design passed through communities with conflicts at their borders.
- Global human traffickers, drug peddlers, explore the inequality presently. In Nigeria for example, OXFAM reports confirms that the combined wealth of 2 Nigerians which is up to $29.9 billion could end extreme poverty at the National level. In Ghana, one of the richest men earns more in a month than one of the poorest women can earn in 1,000 years.
- According to world wild fund for nature, one of the main causes of habitat loss is land for human habitation. This pressure has increased due to conflicts in many countries in Africa compounded by climate change.
- There cannot be responsible consumption and production in conflict inflicted areas. Responsible consumption and production of food have been hampered by border conflicts. In Northern Mali which produces majority of livestock, rice, wheat and sorghum for the entire country has greatly been hurt by conflict. Adamawa and Borno States in Nigeria are states worse hit by ‘boko haram’ insurgency. Agricultural activities have been drastically affected as human mobility reduced due to fear being exposed to danger.
- Climate change is causing a growing negative impact on the African continent; hitting the most vulnerable and contributing to food insecurity and displacement. Trans-border criminality goes beyond human trafficking and proliferation of arms and light weapons, it extends to utilization of porous borders to smuggle assorted industrial waste, toxic materials which increases ocean toxification and marine pollution till date.
- From Northeast Nigeria to Mali, Southern Sudan, Ethiopia borders, the number of internally displaced persons continue to rise due to trans-border conflicts. Victims of conflict in the name of several relocate to forest, destroy bushes. This cause severe damage to natural habitat and life on land.
- PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTION have eluded African communities before the sustainable development Goals were initiated. No thanks to border conflicts from Mali, to Central African Republic, Sahel Regions, conflict remain African Biggest Challenge, (Relief Web) and development cannot be achieved in a conflict society. Institution remains weaken due to lack of funding and inadequate training.
- Promoting international trade and helping developing countries increase their export are the gains of sustainable goal.
- Banditry, conflict political instability and insurgency is yet to make African feel the impact of partnership for development.
When Sustainable Development Goals were born at the United Nation Conference on Sustainable development in Rio De Janeruo, Japan in 2012 and adopted in 2015. The purpose was to produce a set of Universal goals that would help combat urgent environmental, and Economic Challenges facing the world. Protecting our borders from illegal movement of weapons, drugs, contraband and people while promoting lawful trade, travels deploying well trained personnels and technology can complement effort towards the realization of all the seventeen Sustainable development Goals. In the face of impossible odds those who love their country can change it.
Reference: SOS Children Villages, www.unenvironment.org. conflict and border problems in Africa, Boko Haram and Economics Challenges in Nigeria by Mike Ekwueme. Democracy and Challenges of Development in Africa. SAHEL Region News.
by Igwe Martin, Director Media & Advocacy, WAANSA Nigeria