Combating desertification

On the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification (June 17), I’ve found an informative article on ABC.

By 2030, global food needs will grow by 50 per cent, water by 30 per cent and energy demand by 45 per cent, claiming more productive land.

But every year, 12 million hectares of land is lost through desertification and drought alone. This is an area half the size of United Kingdom and could produce 20 million tonnes of grain per year. Globally, about 75 billion tonnes of fertile soil is lost forever each year. Overall, about 1.5 billion people live off degrading land, of whom 74 per cent are the poor.

I’ve worked on desertification and shifting sand dunes for my undergraduate thesis and can see how tough the problem is. In fact, it is not just an adverse phenomenon for land, it could turn out like a disaster. In 2006, I’ve witnessed half a house in Quang Binh Province alive buried by sand in one night. This was somewhat similar to landslide which happened in Uganda yesterday.

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