The Effects of Sierra Leones Natural Resources on the Mende People - Research Paper Example

Published: 2021-08-16 14:44:07
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Harvey Mudd College
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Research paper
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Natural resources are substances or materials which occur in nature and could be exploited for gains, economically. These resources mostly exist without actions or inputs of humankind. They comprise animal life, crops, vegetation, minerals, land, water, atmosphere, and sunlight.

Sierra Leone is a country in the West of Africa that experiences a tropical climate and has unique environments ranging from rainforests to Savannah. Based on the national census of 2015, Sierra Leone has a population of 7,075,641, the majority being youth and children and a total area of 71, 740 square km. The Republic of Sierra Leone is constitutional with a unicameral legislature and a directly nominated president. The country is well endowed or gifted with natural resources. In 2011 for instance, the natural resources highly contributed to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which had a purchasing power parity of around $5.16 billion with a 5.3 % growth rate with a per capita GDP of $ 900. Industry, agriculture, and services contributed to 22 %, 26.5 %, and 51.5 % respectively on 2011s national GDP.

The Mende people are among the largest groups of ethnicity in Sierra Leone. It is important to note that the term Mende refers to both the language and the people. Together with their neighbors, the Temne people, they account for more than 30 % of the total population. Predominantly, they are found in the Eastern and Southern provinces and a small portion in Liberia while the Temne are found mainly in the Western and Northern areas, with inclusion in Freetown, the capital city. Mostly, the Mende people are hunters and farmers. The Mende is divided into two groups: Kpowa and the Halemo. The Halemo are members of the secret societies (hale) while the Kpowa have never been part of these communities. The Mende believe that all scientific and humanistic power gets passed down via these secret societies. The Mende have a substantial Christian minority at around 28 % and a Muslim majority of approximately 70%.

Agricultural Opportunities and Diversity for Inland Valleys

Being Sierra Leones backbone, the agricultural sector is significant in that almost two-thirds of the populace depend on it. It consists of forestry, livestock, fishery, tree crops and food crops. For rural homes in sub-Saharan Africa, inland valleys are getting increasingly significant in the production of agriculture. It is because of their soil fertility, relatively high and secure water availability.

Also, their importance lies as biodiversity hotspots and water buffer as they provide communities such as the Mende people with fishing resources, forage, and forest. It ensures diversification in agriculture and with their hard work, these resources ought to boost their standards of living. These opportunities thus pose a profit to the Mende people. Since they occupy around 31 % of the total population, they stand to gain a whole lot as a community.

Inland valleys, on the other hand, provide a wide range of related functions to the ecosystem. Their significance lies mainly in local erosion, flood control, micro-climate stabilization, nutrient retention and water storage. These valleys also foster tourism and recreation and provide water for sand and clay for construction and crafts. These resources are essential to the Mende people as they will use these sources to better their lives as those of their children.

Topography and Soil

Sierra Leone has numerous physical features that include: Freetown Peninsula Mountains and hills, the Interior Plateau, the central Plains and the Coastal Plains. In the plateau of the country, the Mende people are well settled, carrying out their farming activities as well as other activities. Sierra Leone soil has been categorized to belong to several series and five orders: Spodosols, Ultisols, Entisols, Inceptisols, and Oxisols. Some of these soils are excellent for crop farming and leads to increase in food production both for staple uses and commercial purposes. Hence, the Mende people take advantage of these natural resources to better their lives and improve their livelihoods.

The taxes collected in the form of agricultural supplies are exceeding on a daily basis because as many would think, the government claims some of these resources for itself. It works against the Mende people as it forces them to operate more than it is required of them to produce enough output for both their consumption and to pay their dues.

Minerals

Sierra Leone mines minerals that include: limonite, iron, gold, bauxite, rutile, and diamonds. Such minerals in a country could lead to a rift among the citizens and government. All the involved parties would want to claim ownership and responsibility of these minerals and with the Mende occupying a high proportion of settlement in the country, tend to be collateral damage. Also, in some cases, the minerals get mined near settlements with the people living around that area getting little or nothing because the minerals are classified as the treasures of the government.

On a positive note, for ease of access to these areas, they will require adequately constructed infrastructure. When investors visit the land, they expect to see a united front and improved conditions of life. It hence forces the governing authorities to create infrastructure and social amenities which in return helps in improving the livelihoods of the Mende people.

Land

In Sierra Leonne, land tenure is characterized by a structure of dual ownership. The traditional rulers administer land on behalf of the communities in accordance with customary usage and principles. First, not all land belongs to the societies such as the Mende people because the Western area gets held under the concept of English freehold. Other than this setback, women, including those from the Mende community, cannot possess the land. Besides, the way in which they will use their property gets usually dictated by their husbands, brothers or fathers. The system of land use makes it hard for the vulnerable and weak, such as the outsiders, youth, and women to invest or have any access to it and its improvement. It results in disputes and conflicts of the unclear property rights between farmers, landowners, and herdsmen.

Wild Animals

There are six national parks, namely: Western Area, Outamba-Kilimi, Loma Mountains, Lake Sonfon, Mabesi/Mape and Kuru Hills. Sierra Leone has animals such as hippopotamuses, cape buffalos, waterbucks, chimpanzees, African elephants, and lions. These animals bring income to the government inform of tourist attractions. In addition to these resources that tourists bring with them to view the wild animals, there is also the preservation of the countrys culture. Keeping the animals not to be extinct over the years helps in preserving the culture of the country as they get passed from generations to the next by procreation and protecting them against poachers.

To the Mende people, these animals pose as a threat to their plantations as for instance when they veer from the parks or forests; there is a risk of their plantations getting destroyed and even worse, can result in death to the Mende people living around these endangered areas.

Conclusion

In summary, we have learnt that natural resources include any resources which humans can use that comes from the environment naturally. These resources are a huge boost to states and people in general as they increase income, improve living conditions of people and foster various cultures. It is also however clear that they could lead to negativities that when not well utilized or over utilized can result in damage to the human life or of other commodities. It is vital, not just in Sierra Leone but in the whole world at large to ensure that such resources do not divide us or cause disparity among the people involved with them. Proper handling and care for these resources can lead to numerous positive changes in the environment as well as improvement of facilities and resources globally.

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