Anti-desertification efforts run into the sand
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CTA. 1994. Anti-desertification efforts run into the sand. Spore 53. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49486
Desertification affects more than 900 million people in 100 countries and in some, including many in Africa, it is the biggest single environmental, social and economic threat. The UN Environment Programme estimates the cost of desertification at...
Desertification affects more than 900 million people in 100 countries and in some, including many in Africa, it is the biggest single environmental, social and economic threat. The UN Environment Programme estimates the cost of desertification at $42 billion a year; it is clearly a global problem requiring international effort. In June an international Convention to Combat Desertification convened in Paris but the final formula that was agreed did not promise more finance; instead the possibility was left open to boost funds through various mechanisms including debt cancellation and swaps, and low interest loans and grants to the poorest countries. Many national anti-desertification efforts have failed in the past because of a top-down approach from the highest levels of government, which have failed to take account or advantage of painstakingly accumulated local knowledge. The Convention encourages full use of local participation and knowledge and urges the exchange of information locally for mutual benefit. A problem not directly addressed is land tenure: in many countries large tracts of land have been acquired by rich and absentee land owners turning local farmers into tenants. This tends to loosen land ownership and use and consequently to accelerate land degradation. Other causes for concern are an absence of political will among leaders and within the international community, and the extensive reassessment of attitudes required for the framework of cooperation set out by the conventions in areas such as technology transfer, information collection, analysis and exchange; research and development; and public education. Against that, there is recognition, in the words of a European Union negotiator, that 'We are dealing , with an issue we , all recognize as - grave. We cannot , afford to fail.' The Panos Institute 9 White Lion Street London N1 9PD UK