World Day to Combat Desertification

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World Day to Combat Desertification

Let us plant trees

By Cabinet Secretary Water & Irrigation Hon Eugene Wamalwa – Nairobi, June 17, 2016

Desertification occurs when the tree and plant cover that binds the soil is removed and when trees and bushes are stripped away for fuel wood, charcoal and timber, or overgrazing and clearing land for cultivation

Kenya joined the rest of the world yesterday to commemorate the World Day to raise awareness on desertification that poses grave danger to humanity, fauna and flora globally.

There is probably no greater issue than land in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals that touches everyone. From the food we eat, to the clothes we wear and the houses we live – it all stems from land resources.

In order to “leave no one behind” as proclaimed in the new Sustainable Development Goals, achieving land degradation neutrality needs to be in the forefront to meet our requirements and develop sustainability. The Ministry of Water and Irrigation attaches great value to our biodiversity protection for our sustainable exploitation without endangering our environment.

This year’s World Day to Combat Desertification advocates for the importance of inclusive cooperation to restore and rehabilitate degraded land and contribute towards achieving the overall Sustainable Development Goals. The theme is Slogan: Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People

The inclusivity in the understanding of my Ministry means combined efforts by all ministries and agencies that deal with water and water-related activities and every mwananchi to protect our land and resources thereupon – Land Degradation Neutrality.

Inclusive cooperation among all actors is key for making Land Degradation Neutrality a fundamental solution for achieving SDGs. The slogan, “Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People.” addresses the importance of comprehensive participation and cooperation in working towards achieving Land Degradation Neutrality.

Overgrazing can result In Desertificantion

Desertification occurs when:

  • The tree and plant cover that binds the soil is removed. It occurs when trees and bushes are stripped away for fuel wood and timber, or to clear land for cultivation.
  • Our livestock animals eat away grasses and erode topsoil with their hooves.
  • Intensive farming depletes the nutrients in the soil.

Desertification Environmental Degradation threat

  • 2.6 billion people depend directly on agriculture, but 52% of the land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by soil degradation.
  • Land degradation affects 1,5 billion people globally.
  • Arable land loss estimated at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.
  • Due to drought and desertification each year 12 million hectares are lost (23 hectares/minute!), where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown.
  • 74% of the poor (42% of the very and 32% of the moderately poor) are directly affected by land degradation globally.

Kenyans must be concerned about the effects of desertification and degradation which are manifesting themselves in some parts of our country in form of grazing and watering points conflicts among pastoral communities and with farming communities. The threats are real and call for urgent resolutions.

Maasai women give up charcoal burning

Maasai women charcoal burners of Mulot in Narok County have quit charcoal selling because, unknown to many, some women have lost their lives in the forests as they cut trees and collect wood to sell to charcoal burners.

Today, many of the reformed women have downed their chopping tools to venture into a different income generating dairy activity with a pledge to conserve the trees. That is a commendable conservation measure that will enhance quality of life in Maasailand.

Global Desertification Environmental Degradation threat – the facts;

  • 2.6 billion people depend directly on agriculture, but 52% of the land used for agriculture is moderately or severely affected by soil degradation.
  • Land degradation affects 1,5 billion people globally.
  • Arable land loss estimated at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.
  • Due to drought and desertification each year 12 million hectares are lost (23 hectares/minute!), where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown.
  • 74% of the poor (42% of the very and 32% of the moderately poor) are directly affected by land degradation globally.

What must we do?

We must all engage in the following:-

  • Reforestation and tree regeneration
  •  Water management — saving, reuse of treated water, rainwater harvesting, desalination, or direct use of seawater for salt-loving plants
  • Fixating the soil through the use of sand fences, shelter belts, woodlots and windbreaks
  • Enrichment and hyper-fertilizing of soil through planting
    • Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), enabling native sprouting tree growth through selective pruning of shrub shoots.
  • The residue from pruned tress can be used to provide mulching for fields thus increasing soil water retention and reducing evaporation.
    Thank you all.
    July 17, 2016

The ministry of Water and Irrigation scheduled desertification awareness events in Machakos, Kajiado and Bungoma.

UN Secretary-General’s Message

Bank Ki-Moon

UN Secretary Genera: Bank Ki-Moon

“Protect Earth. Restore land. Engage people”

Desertification, land degradation, drought and climate change are interconnected. As a result of land degradation and climate change, the severity and frequency of droughts have been increasing, along with floods and extreme temperatures. More than 50 per cent of agricultural land is moderately or severely degraded, with 12 million hectares lost to production each year.

The livelihoods and well-being of hundreds of millions of people are at stake. Nearly 800 million people are chronically undernourished as a direct consequence of land degradation, declining soil fertility, unsustainable water use, drought and biodiversity loss. Over the next 25 years, land degradation could reduce global food productivity by as much as 12 per cent, leading to a 30 per cent increase in world food prices.

Without a long-term solution, desertification and land degradation will not only affect food supply but lead to increased migration and threaten the stability of many nations and regions. This is why world leaders made land degradation neutrality one of the targets of the Sustainable Development       G           Goals. That means rehabilitating at least 12 million hectares of degraded land a year.

One important approach is sustainable, climate-smart agriculture. This will not only help communities to build resilience to climate change, it will also support mitigation by taking carbon from the atmosphere and putting it back in the soil. The transition to sustainable agriculture will also alleviate poverty and generate employment, especially among the world’s poorest. By 2050, it could create some 200 million jobs across the entire food production system.

Our theme for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification is: “Protect Earth. Restore land. Engage people.” On this Day, I urge cooperation among all actors to help achieve land degradation neutrality as part of a broader effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and build a future of dignity and opportunity for all.