Voices from the desert
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CTA. 2002. Voices from the desert. Spore 99. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47561
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore99.pdf
There is something about deserts that makes the mind more fertile. To survive in a desert you have to be creative, and more. So too you must be if you are to protect your arid and semi-arid land against desertification through over-cultivation,...
There is something about deserts that makes the mind more fertile. To survive in a desert you have to be creative, and more. So too you must be if you are to protect your arid and semi-arid land against desertification through over-cultivation, over-grazing, deforestation and poor irrigation. Different to the spread of existing deserts, desertification directly affects 250 million people, including in much of Africa, parts of Pacific islands and significant areas of Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica and threatens another 800 million. It was surely fertile minds who were behind the Desertification 2002 Conference held in South Africa and Namibia over three weeks in April. Three weeks. The classical bit with speeches was sandwiched between longer field sessions with key stakeholders, and then spliced into the on-going work through National Action Plans (NAP) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. The UNCDD, agreed in 1992, will be reviewed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2002 with a hefty input from this conference. Let s start in the middle. A three-day symposium in Cape Town brought together 150 combatants from 11 southern Africa countries; West, eastern and North Africa; Argentina; and from several south and central Asian states. Prior to these exchanges of scientific and practitioners insights, there were four training days for community organisations in designing NAPs, writing proposals and assessing desertification through community perceptions and remote sensing. And then 100 combatants took themselves off in groups to five stressed areas of South Africa and Namibia for a week, learning local communities relationships with berries, water tables, game, soil, plants, elephants, traditional forecasting, and much more. Three days of inter-group debriefing followed, swapping tales and sharing plans, at the renowned Gobabeb Training and Research Centre in the Namib desert. Among the deals they made in the desert (to be evaluated after 6 and 12 months): horizontal information flows; study exchange on microfinance; medicinal plant knowledge swaps; and co-producing action-reports for taking home. Five more days training awaited community groups on crafts marketing, community-based environmental assessment and land use alternatives. The whole, exemplarily inclusive, endeavour was co-led by the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia, the German development agency, the US Bureau of Land Management and CTA with support from Canada s and Japan s development funds, UNCCD, and South African and Namibian authorities. [caption to illustration] Even without dunes, as most are, deserts are to be avoided