1. What is desertification?

Desertification can be defined as ‘land degradation in drylands resulting from human actions. In other words, desertification is the loss of soil and its productivity in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world mainly due to its overuse by humans.

Desertification is taking place all over the world. 20 million square kilometres of land are degraded every year and this affects over 280 million people.

2. How is desertification caused?

Both natural processes and socio-economic processes can cause desertification.

Natural processes | Socio-economic processes |
--The occurrence of droughts     (Could last for several years)--High rate of evapotranspiration     caused by high temperature. (High rate of moisture loss from soil)--Compacted soil caused by infrequent and often intense period of rainfall.   (Increasing soil erodibility)   | --Overgrazing       - Vegetation change - Reduced soil quality as it becomes more vulnerable to erosion -Decrease in health and productivity of livestock--Overcultivation       -To support increasing   population       -To grow cash crops for sale   --Deforestation and excessive fuelwood cutting   --Inappropriate irrigation practices (salinization and waterlogging) |

3. What are the problems?

  * Lack of technical knowledge and the use of non-local techniques. (e.g. incorrect seeding, lack of herbicides and the damaging effect of heavy rains.)
  * Government being centralized in their approach to measures while poor people living in marginal, ‘less visible’ areas were overlooked.
  * Radical proposals required major governmental policy changes which proved difficult to impose.
  * Measure did not take local, cultural and socio-economic needs into account when they have been carried out, alienating local communities.
  * Aid from donor countries was not directed properly,
  * Use of resources...