On June 17, we celebrate World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.
Desertification is a process by which vegetation in drylands, such as grasslands or shrublands, decreases and eventually disappears. The concept does not solely refer to the physical expansion of existing deserts, but to the various processes that threaten to turn currently non-desert ecosystems into deserts.
Desertification and drought can cause the land to become unusable and can cause a decrease in biodiversity, as well as an increase in poverty and a decrease in food security.
Below, we explore some of the factors contributing to desertification and drought, and our tree-planting partner in Mauritania, ANAD, shows us how they deal with some of these matters.
1. Overgrazing is the major cause of desertification worldwide. Governments are encouraged to put in place policies that regulate and limit activities such as farming, livestock, and grazing, which can all contribute to desertification.
2. Over-cultivation of land also contributes to desertification, as shallow-rooted crops can cause the topsoil to erode, and prevent deeper-rooted plants from accessing the water and nutrients they need to survive.
3. Deforestation can lead to desertification and drought, as trees and other vegetation help trap moisture in the soil and keep the air cooler. When trees are removed, the soil dries out and becomes vulnerable to erosion.
4. Additionally, governments could invest in water management systems to reduce water stress and conserve water resources in dry regions.
5. And lastly, governments could invest in research and development to increase the understanding of desertification and develop innovative solutions to address the problem.
Dah Ebbe, the president of ANAD, says that with an increase in desertification, there is the risk of losing beautiful areas and biodiversity, such as the fertile Senegal River valley, which lies South of Mauritania. See the images below.
While desertification is very hard to control for a single individual, Dah Ebbe has shown us that every person can contribute to preserving and protecting their environment. He has planted trees in his own gardens in Nouakchott and Bareina:
Dah Ebbe concerningly tells us that the desert is rapidly coming closer and closer to their homes. The desert is not just invading their villages, but it is also eating away their culture, their customs, traditions, and their heritage. He hopes that together, as local communities, the government, and with global support, their future will change for the better.
If you want to know more about ANAD and their work in the desert, have a look at their website. Or, you can get in touch with Dah Ebbe and ask him how you can get involved and support his work.
For more information on desertification, visit the articles below.:
Action Against Desertification
Causes, Effects and Solutions to Combat Desertification
Desertification: Causes, Effects, And Solutions
Desertification Is Destroying Mauritania | Opinion
World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
Below, a few photos to illustrate life on the edge of the Sahara desert.