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Dagestani, A.A.;  Qing, L.;  Houran, M.A. Environment Information Disclosure in Sub-Saharan Africa. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 17 April 2024).
Dagestani AA,  Qing L,  Houran MA. Environment Information Disclosure in Sub-Saharan Africa. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 17, 2024.
Dagestani, Abd Alwahed, Lingli Qing, Mohamad Abou Houran. "Environment Information Disclosure in Sub-Saharan Africa" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 17, 2024).
Dagestani, A.A.,  Qing, L., & Houran, M.A. (2022, October 26). Environment Information Disclosure in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Encyclopedia.
Dagestani, Abd Alwahed, et al. "Environment Information Disclosure in Sub-Saharan Africa." Encyclopedia. Web. 26 October, 2022.
Environment Information Disclosure in Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa comprises the bulk of struggling economies. However, Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing rapid industrialization and urbanization. Excessive resource use, pollution, and the absence of relevant environmental disclosure are factors that contribute to these human-made damages. Environmental pollution as a threat to sustainable development results from these damages. Although it has been established that Sub-Saharan Africa would benefit from resource-management development, sustainable environmental strategies, and a reduction in urbanization and persistent poverty, the information on these issues has not been made public.

environmental exposure information disclosure Sub-Saharan Africa pollution

1. Introduction

Africa is the second largest and the second most populated continent in the world, with 54 states. This large continent is not only rich in cultural diversity but also boasts significant natural diversity (Fieno et al. 2016). Throughout its history, Africa has been plagued by political instability, war, and economic stagnation (Aluko and Obalade 2020). Modern African nations, however, are moving in the direction of long-term growth and development. Although isolated communities rely on hunting and subsistence farming, populations are still increasing, despite low levels of education and poverty. This fast-growing population is posing a number of serious problems, including environmental exposure (Adams and Opoku 2020). According to the predictions of the United Nations, by 2070, the bulk of the world’s population growth will occur in the African continent. The combination of the increasing population, urbanization, and industrialization with the lack of attention to energy and environmental sustainability pose a major threat to the African continent. For instance, the use of pesticides and exposure to heavy metals and other city pollutants are now affecting the population due to climate-change-induced heavy downpours on already deforested landscapes (Koné et al. 2019).
As in any other rapidly developing nation, the rapid rate of urbanization in Sub-Saharan African nation is accompanied by issues such as excessive resource use, pollution, and the absence of pertinent environmental disclosure. This, in turn, favors conditions conducive to environmental pollution, posing a threat to long-term development (Zhang et al. 2020). Environmental information disclosure is a recently developed tool of environmental governance (EID). Due to their increased visibility, mining companies in South Africa invariably disclose not only environmental but also social information (Davies et al.; Anshelevich et al. 2021). The level of social disclosure was found to be lower in smaller companies compared to larger companies. Although normative isomorphism favors larger companies, since their fields have reached maturity and are corporate entities in their own right, smaller companies, despite robust disclosure on the environment, still require some improvements in social disclosure (de Villiers et al. 2014).

2. Research Gaps in Environment Information Disclosure in Sub-Saharan Africa

The poor infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Africa cause childhood household injuries, and the long-term consequences of these injuries are not well-documented. The information based on these types of injuries is not generally reliable. In Ghana, for example, there are no significant differences in the type and number of these incidents in rural and urban areas. However, the risk factors and various patterns of mechanisms are not evenly distributed (Stewart et al. 2021). The level of environmental disclosure varies by country and is, by international standards, very low in Sub-Saharan Africa. This depends to some extent on the types of companies operating in specific areas and the awareness of the inhabitants of these areas of environmental risk factors (Santamaria et al. 2021). While the disclosure of this information is not effective, the provision of safety equipment, establishing of community creches, and home hazard reduction systems, which should be incorporated with passive injury surveillance systems, is a promising approach to data collection and the development of broader prevention strategies (Stewart et al. 2021).
In terms of the relationship between sustainable development and finance, the IFRS S2 requirements are firmly in compliance with the adoption of FCFD recommendations by companies, which are even better prepared. For instance, climate-related risks and opportunities, indirect adaptation and mitigation efforts, and existing financial resources with respect to climate resilience are examples of non-disclosures (Baboukardos et al. 2022). Moreover, in the analysis of banking risk data, operational, liquidity, credit, and interest rate risk are crucial elements of financial crises. Therefore, powerful countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and China should lead on environmental exposure information disclosure regardless of any losses this incurs (Simona and Rimo 2022). When deciphering the benefits of environmental information disclosure and financial performance, it is necessary to be aware of the effect of business activities and the role these activities play in the environment. The disclosure of information provides improved environmental performance through eco-efficiency and better environmental conditions (Onyebuenyi and Ofoegbu 2022).
Another politically affiliated research gap regarding inadequate environmental disclosure is in the research on the farming landscapes throughout Africa. People are exposed to environmental hazards due to improper landscapes during farming, which results in conflicts among neighboring farmers; the risk and tragedies attached to this form well-documented and disclosed information (Koo et al. 2016). For instance, the information on the damaging effects of the influence of Lake Chad on the hydrologic potential, socio-economics, and eco-sustainability of the drainage systems in Chad and surrounding areas are not well-disclosed to the inhabitants of the region (Onamuti et al. 2017).
A comprehensive environmental health study aiming to shed light on environmental health in Africa from the perspective of the exposome (the totality of human environmental exposures) provides an account of the interplay between human and environmental health (Joubert et al. 2019a). Another specific form of information disclosure involves the lagging facilities in Africa, despite the greater risk to communities and the environment (Franks et al. 2021). The risk of contracting viruses in the environment is related to a combination of socio-economic, climate, biodiversity, and land use. While a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and urbanization are predicted to be associated with human-transmissible viruses and non-vector-borne viruses, biodiversity and the climate are strictly zoonotic-virus-correlated (Zhang et al. 2020). Environmental-exposure-induced infections and complications are not directly reported by the firms or companies responsible; instead, they are recorded by hospitals. The risk of asthma due to environmental smoking exposure, antenatal maternal smoking, and allergies from the consumption of fried meats and fast food is also underdisclosed to people (Levin et al. 2020). There are still gaps in the research on environmental issues that contribute to the cancer burden in Sub-Saharan Africa. With the use of outdated technologies and ineffective environmental exposure information, indoor air pollution, exposure in the agriculture and mining sectors, and the spread of chemical agents due to the mismanagement of hazardous waste from both industrial and local communities are not evaluated, and the information is not well-disclosed (McCormack and Schüz 2012).
Despite the World Health Organization (WHO)’s declaration that the impact of environmental exposure and modifiable environmental factors are major contributors to 20% of the global disease burden, the data on the health outcomes in the African population are not evident or representative (Joubert et al. 2019b). The persistence and ‘brown color’ of Africa’s dust creates specific occupational exposures. These subsequently lead to respiratory, cardiovascular, and other harmful effects through pesticides, metals, and, to some extent, street vendors (Joubert et al. 2019b). Screening tests, health effects, and natural history should all be included in the information regarding proper medical monitoring in public health investigations regarding the potential harm or benefits from exposure. Arguably, Sub-Saharan Africa has not made the decision to limit medical exposure to medically harmful substances, or to move beyond preventive medical efforts while improving overall disability, morbidity, and mortality (Vearrier and Greenberg 2017).
Favorable vegetation improves the lives of inhabitants; however, many African countries, despite the benefits attached to mining, are also challenged by risk and environmental exposure. Most often, on-site surveillance strategies aim to improve conditions, such as acclimatization issues and pre-placement screening related to the environmental exposure associated with mining. The information disclosed on the cardiovascular (elevated blood pressure, ischemia, and heart failure) and pulmonary effects (subacute mountain sickness, pulmonary hypertension, altitude pulmonary edema, and chronic mountain sickness) of environmental exposure are all underreported. Moreover, neurological effects, ophthalmological, renal, etc., are further mining exposure health issues (Vearrier and Greenberg 2011).
Although under-reported in Sub-Saharan Africa, the effects of noise exposure and secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure on tinnitus incidence in adolescents and young adults has been reported in the United States (Money and Ramkissoon 2020). Moreover, manganese (Mn) neurotoxicity has been found to be associated with parkinsonism, which results in poorer quality of life (QoL) (Dlamini et al. 2020). Another risk posed to the human population, in addition to environmental pollution, is the occupational hazards of seafood, both in land facilities and on-board vessels (Bonlokke et al. 2019). Moreover, cumulative exposure to fumes and silica dust is associated with an increased risk of pneumococcal pneumonia (Torén et al. 2022). Hence, there is a need to eliminate occupational exposures (Sofola et al. 2007).

3. Prospects for Sub-Saharan Environmental Exposure Disclosure

It is clear that the time has arrived for Africa to incorporate environmental exposure disclosure into ongoing and future epidemiology studies. This would support multidisciplinary approaches to the design of research projects that involve biospecimen collection and storage, chemical exposure measurements, laboratory strategies, and desirable statistical methodologies. Thus far, Sub-Saharan African nations have not established how genomic factors interact with environmental factors, nutrition, and infection. Once the environmental health exposomic risk factors and genomics are incorporated, analyses are conducted based on the high dimension of the genome and environmental data, and these are bridged, information on the modifiable risk factors could contribute to the design of coherent research on the intervention in and prevention of environmental health exposure in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is apparent that incentives created by public disclosure have a high tendency to significantly reduce pollution in Sub-Saharan Africa. This excerpt is from a study that highlighted the few contributions made by environmental NGOs. In addition, there seems to be no formal channel for public participation in environmental regulation. This boom in the number of environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs) has been shown to affect environmental issues. Despite these serious issues, less effort has been made in different types of ENGO activities.
The underreporting of environmental exposure among the companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) was found to be due to limited data, despite managers’ positive attitudes to environmental disclosure. Fear of liability could have been the key reason for this. However, the non-disclosure is partly due to the lack of a legal requirement. There are high hopes that legislative bodies such as the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), with its statement on environmental disclosure as a Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (GAAP), will help to design a number of amendments (de Villiers 2003). Another prospect that is likely to encourage environmental-exposure disclosure is the social, environmental, and economic (SEE) strategy. This has proven to be a positive signal of the legitimacy theory, which will be used to analyze the findings from any formed SEE. Furthermore, economic-strategy-related disclosures are much more robust. This is strongly believed to be due to the focus of financial capital providers on financial performance (Van Zijl et al. 2017).
In developing environmental exposure, research into genetics and genomics attracted a consortium for a meeting on Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa), and the proposals drawn included changes to evaluate environmental exposures (UNDP 2014). However, genomics research on African descendants has not been sufficiently robust to draw any meaningful conclusions about genetics and the risks of environmental exposure. With a focus on current and emerging chemical and environmental health risk factors for Africans, as well as the integration of environmental and genomic factors, promising novel mechanisms may lead to environmental exposure and risk disclosure (Joubert et al. 2019b).
The model used to ascertain the risk factors for major external structural birth defects in Kenya is promising. In addition to genetics, sociodemographic–environmental etiology is associated with potential maternal genetic predisposition (Agot et al. 2021). In summary, epigenetic factors require extensive study to rule out some of these episodes. Environmental exposures are not always negative. For instance, improved gut health from the consumption of fermented milk products and reduced involuntary cesarian section are among the protective-factor effects of rural environment exposure to livestock. However, this information is not disclosed, perhaps due to conflicts of interest in commerce (Levin et al. 2020). Although this might seem tentative, using image-sharing social media could lead to a form of environmental exposure information disclosure. Pictures, when properly taken, could disseminate this information to a broader audience (Fung et al. 2020).
Finally, the lack of studies on corporate social environmental disclosure (CSED) means that non-managerial stakeholders’ perceptions of the practice cannot be thoroughly examined. Again, in order for a voice to be given to non-managerial stakeholders, CSED accounting regulatory bodies, the participation of the central government, and academia are needed to develop knowledge. With the combination of these forces, policy statements regarding CSED will be issued, and standards could be set for the disclosure of information by various organizations (Uwuigbe and Olusanmi 2013).


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