World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

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.

An area that ANAD planted and camped off, specifically preserved for animal grazing.


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.

Very dry areas of land where cultivation is very difficult or nearly impossible.


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.

The photo illustrates how deeply-rooted shrubs and trees help to keep the moving sand in place.


4. Additionally, governments could invest in water management systems to reduce water stress and conserve water resources in dry regions.

In the city of Nouakchott, large pools of rainwater can be seen on the roads after heavy rains, which will quickly dissolve again under the scorching sun.


5. And lastly, governments could invest in research and development to increase the understanding of desertification and develop innovative solutions to address the problem.

In the city of Nouakchott, the government has planted hundreds of trees next to the main road leading to the airport.


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.

Children playing in the sand dunes, neighboring their homes in Bareina.

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, explained
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.



Please share this. Thank you!

1 Comment

  1. Dah ebbe ANAD

    Thank you, dear Anrich, for sharing this wonderful post with us We, ANAD, hope to have a field partnership with GTI. We work hand in hand to combat desertification on behalf of Mauritania, which suffers from encroaching sands. 75 percent of Mauritania’s land suffers from desertification.


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