Socio-cultural Issues for Sustainable Development in Africa
Sustainability has become the central concern of development planners and practitioners. Scholars have recognized the significance of the three focal areas of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental factors. While the economic and environmental aspects have been given prominence for a long period of time, socio-cultural issues have now been recognized as an equally important pillar of sustainable development. This paper discusses some of the primary socio-cultural issues for sustainable development in rural Africa, including the protection of the cultural heritage and social identity of rural dwellers, their access to needed facilities and services, social inclusion and equity for marginalized and vulnerable people, and capacity building of social capital in rural communities and social conflict mitigation. Training of development practitioners in the socio-cultural aspects of sustainable development is needed. The paper introduces the innovative education for Sustainable Development in Africa (ESDA) that designed a Sustainable Integrated Rural Development in Africa (SIRDA) programme. SIRDA incorporates social components in a well-rounded curriculum for relevant policymakers, planners and implementers of rural development projects.
Keywords: Integrated rural development, capacity building, social capital, cultural heritage, gender equity