The environment [Archives:2004/745/Health]

June 10 2004

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
The environment is our surroundings, inhabited by people, animals, vegetation, and other earthly creatures and species. The more these living species, live on this planet in peace and harmony with each other, avoiding pollution and excessive environmental damage, the more likely they are to be able to sustain a happy life for themselves and to provide a safe and secure life for future generations to come.
But, due humans nature, swayed by greed, we, humans, are not satisfied just yet with the extent of the various damages, poisonous pollutants and major disturbances to the delicate balance of nature and environment many of us frequently inflict on this planet. This damage has assisted in the spread of many contagious diseases, the rapid pace of desertification and shortage of clean drinking water in many parts of this world.
However, many of us, especially in third world countries including Yemen, do not give any consideration or respect to our surroundings, and exceed the limit in handling and dealing with our environment, sometimes, in a despicable way. Many of us seem not to care for even their personal hygiene when they throw their garbage, plastic bottles, food stuff and chewed Qat out of the windows of their cars and into streets, or disgustingly their spit.
Anyhow, there are, in addition, many other critical environmental concerns, which ought to be resolved and discussed. Yemen Times' Mr. Ismail Al-Ghabri had the opportunity to present some questions on environmental issues in Yemen to the Chairman of the Public Environment Protection Authority, Mr. Mohamed Shadewah.

Q: What is the extent and the scope of official attention to the environment in Yemen?
A: Environmental issues have received relatively large attention in recent years that is clearly seen in the establishing of a separate portfolio concerned with water and the environment. This direction of the government coincided with the foundations of 35 non-governmental associations and organizations involved in environment issues spread throughout the governorates of the Republic.

Q: Does the authority provide any support to environmental NGOs?
A: The scope of the authority includes the support of these associations and organizations in order to obtain jointly the collective public and official goals to protect and preserve our environment and to spread environment awareness among the general public. As a matter of fact, a special division inside the authority was introduced in its structure to coordinate with their efforts and to enhance their abilities in order to obtain the support of international organizations and donor countries for their independent environmental projects and their environmental protection initiatives.

Q: How do you view the protection of the environment and the preservation of natural resources?
A: The Yemeni law defines the preservation of the environment and its resources as the wise management of the natural and renewable resources that includes effective utilization and exploitation of these resources while ensuring their sustainability for present and for future generations.
The Republic of Yemen, just like most of the countries of the world, cares about the interrelationship between social and economic growth and the environment. The attention on the environment reached its peak with the amendment to the constitution in a referendum on 20 February, 2000, by adding article No. 35, which stipulates that the protection of the environment is the responsibility of the state, society and each citizen. February 20 every year is considered a national day on the environment to keep up with the increasing global attention on environmental issues.
The environment is directly connected with development, and that is why the Republic of Yemen has utilized all of its capabilities to preserve the environment.

Q: Why are there so many environmental problems?
A: The deterioration of the environment is due to the ever increasing activities of mankind. So be it, but most of his doings have not been necessarily correct and or intentionally conducted against the interests of the environment. The efforts of scientists have led to the detection of major damage inflicted to the environment with the hope of finding solutions to them. As a matter of fact, many activities of mankind seem to be imprudent and unwise, and they have led to various environmental problems such as the various air pollutants, rapid population growth verses the constantly diminishing resources, the expansionism of construction at the expense of arable lands, the random use of water in irrigation, and hunting.

Q: What are the national efforts to protect the environmental diversity of Yemen from extinction?
A: Several parts of the country have been categorized as environmentally protected areas, which will assist in preserving and protecting several rare species, both animals and vegetation, from extinction.
There is a call now to establish a prosecution concerned with water and environmental issues.
The preservation of the environment and the spread of environment awareness are the joint responsibility of all members of society. When the public and official efforts are integrated, the greater the chance to protect and to preserve our environment.