“No one can deny the terrible similarities between those running from the threat of guns and those fleeing creeping desertification, water shortages, floods and hurricanes” stated Konrad Osterwalder, Rector of the United Nations University to illustrate the link between climate change and the rise of migration flows.
On June 17, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Droughts focuses on the link between land degradation and migration, to raise awareness about the vital importance to protect our lands. Indeed, given that desertification affects over 250 million people, and threatens 1 billion people around the world, acting is now a priority. This day is therefore a unique moment to remind everyone that solutions exist to solve this problem.
Desertification does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts. Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of the world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land.
“Our Land, Our Home, Our Future” is the slogan for this year world day. In Africa, these words are particularly relevant, as drylands make up 43% of the continent’s land area account for 75% of agricultural lands and are home to 50% of the population. It first reveals the importance of sustainably managing these lands, to ensure food security for the populations, and the future generations. In 2016, the report from the World Bank alerted on the “real risk of undermining future options if existing areas under production are not managed sustainably”. In developing countries, overpopulation causes pressure on lands and exhausts them, threatening food security, and local populations. As a result, populations must move to other places, increasing migration and displacing pressure to other territories. In just 15 years, the number of international migrants worldwide has risen from 173 million in 2000 to 244 million in 2015 and is expected to keep rising.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”. Achieving the UN Agenda will require ambitious actions to put an end to desertification, and encourage everyone, from local communities to policy makers, to commit for this goal. In some places, agricultural traditions change to protect lands, and ensure food security. In Kenya, classes on conservation agriculture are provided to local communities, to turn away from traditional techniques, that consisted in burning crop and weed residues after harvesting, to sustainable practices.
However, provided that you live in a dryland or not, it is your opportunity to get involved. Participate in an event around you or market your support on social media by using the hashtag #2017WDCD. Take some time today to learn about this issue and spread the word around you!
To learn more about the World Day to Combat Desertification and Droughts, please, visit:
Kenya: Women adopt conservation agriculture to fight against drought.
Land for life, Create Wealth, Transform Lives
Desertification and Migration