S the threat of drought
South Africa is still with us, it is import
ant to remember the need to conserve water and protect the environment from erosion and damage.
The United Nations General Assembly declared the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCD) in 1994 to raise public awareness on desertification, land degradation and drought, as well as the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
This day been observed since 17 March 1995 to promote public awareness about the international effort to combat desertification and the effects of drought in countries, such as South Africa, that are prone to serious drought and/or increased desertification.
South Africa, as a party to the UNCCD, has annually coordinated the celebration of the WDCD since ratifying the Convention, through the Department of Environmental Affairs.
The day has been observed to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
It is a unique occasion to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and the WDCD can also be used as a tool to strengthen community participation and co-operation at all levels.
This year, the WDCD is being celebrated under the theme ‘Our land. Our Home. Our Future.’ The theme focuses on the link between migration and land degradation and celebrates the power of land in giving people opportunities to build resilient communities able to withstand the impacts of desertification land degradation & drought, exacerbated by climate change.
The theme reminds everyone about the importance of productive land for securing food and generating local employment, thereby contributing to sustainable land management.
It also calls for actions on the ground to address poverty and hunger, tackling inequality, empowering women and stimulating economic growth.
The 2017 WDCD will contribute towards the achievement of land degradation neutral world, which requires a paradigm shift in land stewardship: from ‘degrade-abandon-migrate’ to ‘protect-sustain-restore’.
This means cooperation among various sectors that embrace complementary management options in order to minimise current land degradation; avoid future land degradation and further rehabilitate degraded lands as well as restoring degraded natural and semi-natural ecosystems that provide vital benefits to people.
In rural areas, where people depend on scarce productive land resources, land degradation is a driver of forced migration.
Africa is particularly susceptible because more than 90% of the economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base, such as rainfed, subsistence agriculture.
Sustainable land management offers young people opportunities for income generation from agriculture, food processing and tourism.