World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought highlights the problems faced by millions of people who live in dryland regions. Desertification has been called the greatest environmental challenge of our times. It is not the advance of deserts, though it can include the encroachment of sand dunes on land. Rather, it is persistent land degradation. Desertification is not always inevitable. Human factors, such as overgrazing and clear-cutting land, can be controlled by improving agricultural and grazing practices. Other factors, such as rising temperatures, can be predicted and dealt with proactively.
Dryland ecosystems are very vulnerable to over-exploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and poor irrigation practices can all contribute to desertification.
Sub-Saharan Africa, where 66 per cent of the land is either desert or dryland, is particularly at risk. Around 1.2 billion people in more than 110 countries are threatened by this problem.