Eritrea is a signatory to various conventions related to the environment. In 1996, it acceded to the Convention on Biological Diversity which provides general obligations for Member States. As a signatory to the Convention, which entered into force in 1993, it issued the appropriate legal and institutional adjustments to enable it to implement and enforce the provisions of the convention. The publication of multiple proclamations aimed at the rehabilitation and protection of the environment demonstrates the government’s commitment.
Recognizing the importance of having a guiding policy on biodiversity, the government designed the first National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) in 2000. The NBSAP sets out the overall policy position for restoring, conserving and managing biodiversity. biodiversity of Eritrea. Two years later, Legal Notice No. 63/2002 on “Regulations Prohibiting the Production, Import, Sale or Distribution of Thin Plastic Bags in Eritrea” was issued to prohibit the production, import , the sale or distribution of high or low density plastic bags. -produced in polyethylene with a density not exceeding 2 mm in thickness. In order to protect the environment from the adverse effects of harmful chemicals, the government issued Legal Notice No. 11/2006 on “Regulations issued to determine the import, handling, use, storage and elimination of pesticides”. This proclamation identified and listed the pesticides that could be imported into Eritrea.
Manage water resources in a balanced and sustainable way and guarantee the participation of the population in safeguarding the good use of water resources. Legal Notice 162/2010 on the “Eritrean Water Proclamation” was issued in 2010. The objective of the proclamation is to ensure that the country’s water resources (both surface and groundwater) are used wisely. sustainable manner and for the best social and economic benefit of the Eritrean people. Conserving and protecting water resources from pollution is essential for overall development and people’s transformation.
Another regulation worth mentioning is the Environmental Management Regulation NO.127/2017. Article 11 of this legal notice is devoted to the disposal and management of waste. The article states that “Each urban and rural administrative authority shall establish effective waste management systems and safe landfills in their locality.” Regarding the management of hazardous waste, section 14 of the proclamation lists and classifies hazardous waste.
The Eritrean Framework Proclamation on the Protection, Management and Rehabilitation of the Environment No. 179/2017 is another legal notice issued with the aim of establishing the basis of the laws on the management and protection of the environment and to provide the institutions and legal instruments necessary for their implementation and application. It also aims to advance an environmental policy framework compatible with sustainable development. These proclamations are intended to protect biotic factors such as humans, plants, animals and microbes as well as abiotic factors such as air, water and soil. To reverse the harmful environmental issues, various measures such as soil and water conservation, area closures, reforestation and rehabilitation of degraded areas have been taken by the government in collaboration with local communities.
In the past, the thirty-year armed struggle as well as the persistent drought had a negative impact on the natural environment of Eritrea. The country’s rich biological diversity has been denuded for decades. This deterioration of the natural environment complicates the fight against poverty.
National development depends on the use of natural resources. During the colonial era, Eritrea’s natural resources were exploited without concern for conservation and sustainability. This awareness of past affliction prompted the newly independent country, Eritrea, to adopt the National Code of Conduct on the Environment in 1995 to demonstrate “unwavering dedication to maintaining the national lithosphere (land), l hydrosphere (water) and atmosphere (air) at levels of purity conducive to a healthy environment.”
Eritreans have a deep sense of public participation. Community engagement has always been an indispensable element in winning any national action. This national character must be channeled towards the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for present and future generations. Environmental protection should be part of our national security policy. Defending our resources is just as important as defending our territorial integrity. As the survival of fish depends solely on water, the survival of human beings entirely depends on a clean and green environment. A healthy environment has a bio-magnetic force that attracts all that is necessary for life. Among other things, trees attract and support life. Planting trees is like planting hope for the future. Planting is the best option to have a green environment and the best option against pollution.
Large-scale deforestation has led to the extinction or disappearance of many native plant species, and has affected soil fertility and agricultural production. It’s time to reverse the situation and nurture our nature so that we can have a better future. Every responsible citizen must join the race to make Eritrea’s natural environment a better place.
Although it is virtually impossible to develop a nation without impacting the environment, we must always remember that we can only lead a healthy life when we maintain the safety of the natural environment. Therefore, national initiatives such as community-led soil and water conservation and student summer jobs must be intensified for sustainable development and for present and future generations of Eritrea to live in the dignity.