World Day to Combat Desertification 201317/6/13
Drylands cover 40% of the Earth's surface, and are home to 2.5 billion people.
Today countries worldwide will observe World Day to Combat Desertification. Contrary to what you may think, desertification is not the expansion of existing deserts but instead the changing of fertile land into desert because of farming practices, cutting down trees and drought. It’s a global phenomenon, affecting the lives and livelihoods of over 2.5 billion people living in drylands that cover 40 percent of the earth's surface.
Desertification largely affects poorer people who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Very often it can lead to poverty, starvation, under-nutrition and increased infant and maternal mortality. The goal of the 2013 World Day to Combat Desertification is to make people aware of the risks of drought and how to combat water scarcity in the drylands and beyond.
As part of Irish Aid’s work on eliminating hunger, we play our part in combating desertification by supporting scientific research in the development of drought-resistant seeds and efficient ways for farmers to manage the soil and water on their lands.
We also support the World Agroforestry Centre, whose work includes using trees in farming to improve fertility and retain soil moisture. They are also part of an ambitious programme called the Great Green Wall which aims to create a 7,500km band of trees, 15km wide, spreading East to West across Africa. For more information on the Great Green Wall you can read a Case Study from the World Food Programme.
Ireland currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU and as such chairs a Working party on International Environmental issues. This allows us to encourage our fellow EU Member States to discuss and coordinate our approaches to land degradation and sustainable land management issues.