Fighting Desertification the African Way

Fighting Desertification the African WayFighting Desertification the African Way

Desertification is the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems by variations in climate and human activities. Home to a third of the human population, drylands occupy nearly half of Earth’s land area. Across the world, desertification affects the livelihoods of millions of people who rely on the benefits that dryland ecosystems can provide.

In drylands, water scarcity limits the production of crops, forage, wood, and other services ecosystems provide to humans. Drylands are therefore highly vulnerable to increases in human pressures and climatic variability, especially sub-Saharan and Central Asian drylands. According to a United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) report, 2.6 billion people depend directly on agriculture, but 52% of the land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by soil degradation.

There are a number of ways to prevent or reverse desertification: soil fixation, water management, soil enrichment and hyper-fertilization, and reforestation – which is Iran's Department of Environment's (DoE) preferred method.

In a report published online, the DoE explained how Africans are using tree regeneration and reforestation to deal with the problem.

First, different villages in Africa are setting up small groups called Naam which are fighting poverty and desertification. These people are planting trees and trying new farming methods. Other workers in the Sahel have made an important discovery. They found out certain types of rocks could be used as fertilizer to help vegetation grow. In addition, many women in the Sahel have setup a program called C.A.R.E., which is a tree project. People know trees are very important because if used properly they can be a great source of fuel. Today, people in the Sahel region are doing many things to help prevent desertification.

Scientists and the people living in the Sahel region have different needs. The people living in the Sahel think their standard of living is most important, and the scientists think the environment is very important. The people and the scientists should meet and make an agreement on something that gives them what they both want.

Another step, which is promoted by the UNCCD, is Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). FMNR is basically enabling native sprouting tree growth through selective pruning of shrub shoots. The residue from pruned trees can be used to provide mulching for fields, thus increasing soil water retention and reducing evaporation. Countries need to develop alternatives in order to help dryland populations to maintain their livelihoods without causing desertification. Dealing with desertification successfully will go a long way in helping to reduce global poverty.