What is Desertification?
Desertification refers to the deterioration of land in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid environments. It is mostly caused by human activity and climate variables. Desertification is not synonymous with the growth of existing deserts. Dryland ecosystems occupy more than one-third of the world’s land area and are especially vulnerable to overexploitation and unsuitable surface use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing, and poor irrigation techniques can all reduce land production.
Every year, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is celebrated to raise public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is attainable via problem-solving, strong community engagement, and cooperation at all levels. The United Nations General Assembly declared 17 June to be “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought” by its resolution A/RES/49/115 adopted in December 1994.
In 2007, the UN General Assembly declared 2010-2020 the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification to mobilize global action to fight land degradation, led again by the UNCCD Secretariat.
The UNCCD’s 197 parties (169 of which are affected by desertification) collaborate to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, as well as to mitigate the effects of drought in dry lands — the arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas that contain some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples.
Since 2017, the UNCCD and its partners have assisted over 70 drought-prone nations in developing national action plans to mitigate drought disasters.
What is the Major Impact of Desertification?
Drought is one of the most destructive major natural disasters in terms of human loss of life, with consequences such as widespread crop failure, wildfires, and water stress. Droughts are becoming more frequent and severe, with a 29 percent increase in frequency and intensity since 2000, affecting 55 million people each year (WMO 2021). Droughts are expected to affect three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050. It is a worldwide and pressing issue. Droughts are among the greatest threats to sustainable development, especially in developing countries, but increasingly so in developed nations too.
This year’s International Day against Desertification and Drought theme, “Rising from Drought Together,” emphasizes the importance of taking action early to avert severe effects on people and the planet’s ecosystems.
Major Objectives of Desertification and Drought Day
One of the major goals of this day is to raise public awareness regarding desertification and drought.
Another important objective is to inform people that desertification and drought can be effectively addressed, that solutions are possible, and that vital instruments for accomplishing this goal lie in increased community engagement and collaboration at all levels.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification should be strengthened in countries suffering from severe drought and/or desertification, notably in Africa.
Reforestation and tree regeneration.
Water management — saving, reuse of treated water, rainwater harvesting, desalination, or direct use of seawater for salt-loving plants.
Buttressing the soil through the use of sand fences, shelter belts, woodlots, and windbreaks.
Enrichment and hyper-fertilizing of soil through planting.
Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), 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.
What Causes a Drought and How Can We Quantify It?
Drought stresses plants and animals, and it may turn typically green and fruitful territory into eroded, dusty plains. Drought may lead to water scarcity by drying up streams and lakes and reducing flow into groundwater.
Weather patterns that are unusual for an area might produce drought. An area might become drier than usual due to persistent high pressure and sinking air. the following picture represents a big region of high pressure across the Desert Southwest. If such high pressure persists, the region may experience drought conditions.