March 8, 2018 | Events

Since 1994, each year in June a day is set aside as the World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) and the 2017 commemoration was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Desertification, simply described as the destruction of dry ecosystems is one of the direst problems of the twenty-first century. Sub-Saharan Africa has been plagued by drought and desertification affecting the quality of life for both current and future generations. In lieu of the above, the WDCD is held on an annual basis as a platform to advance the agenda against land degradation. It is an important platform to advocate for the role of the community in mitigating land degradation through sustainable land management practices. Although desertification is attributable to climatic changes such as increasing global warming, the phenomenon also occurs due to man-made actions.

Relationship between desertification and migration

The 2017 WDCD focused on migration as one of the man-made causes that have accelerated desertification. Unemployment coupled with food insecurity has contributed to a high level of migration. In African countries, many of the host nations that act as recipients for migrants have limited resources to cater for the growing population. This results in an over-exploitation of susceptible arable lands hence its degradation. The Ouagadougou WDCD also established that migration is bound to escalate in coming years. This is believed to be as a result of an influx of unemployed youth who would have lost their livelihoods to the tragedy of desertification. These marginalized groups often resort to further destructive man-made catalysts of drought and desertification such as deforestation.

Desertification and the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs)

The fifteenth sustainable development goal posits that safeguarding the earth from degradation is a precursor to meeting the needs of both current and future generations. The causes and effects of desertification, however, affect the attainment of this goal. Areas that have been affected by desertification, for example, have destroyed the ecosystem and with it the ability of human beings to meet their present and future needs.

Land resource: Current stability and future sustainability

The WDCD held in Ouagadougou had a central theme of ‘our land, our home, our future’. Land is an important resource not only in the creation of employment opportunities but also in facilitating the attainment of food security. 2017’s WDCD theme is thus an indication that it is the duty of humans to protect land through a sustainable land management approach. Such an approach will ensure that the human race can cement the stability of the resources and avoid catastrophic projections that inform the discourse on World day to combat desertification. This will also enhance the security of future generation of attaining their goals. Succinctly put, desertification is a man-made problem and can thus be mitigated using man-made solutions such as sustainable land management.

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