Thursday, June 16, 2016

Striving for land degradation neutrality during World Day to Combat Desertification

By Bob Aston
Inclusive cooperation for achieving Land degradation neutrality is the theme of this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification. The national celebration in Kenya is at Pap Sori Grounds, Karungu Township in Migori County on June 17, 2016.
Effects of climate change.PHOTO: Bonface Njenga
The celebration will address the importance of comprehensive participation and cooperation in working towards achieving land degradation neutrality.
According to NEMA-Kenya, Karungu Township in Migori County is semi-arid and has all the characteristics of an emerging desert, with prolonged dry spells. In addition, deforestation particularly in Nyatike and Got-Kachola forest has led to decreased water supply to major rivers in the County.
Environmental degradation in the County has resulted in severe climatic changes. This has affected the agricultural sector directly and indirectly resulting into reduced crop productivity and subsequent food deficits in Migori County.
The main activities during the World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) celebrations include tree planting, a procession, exhibitions, media talk shows, and a visit to selected rehabilitated areas in Migori County.
The culmination of the event will be the various messages by dignitaries headed by the Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judi Wakhungu of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Regional Development Authorities. Others will be Prof Geoffrey Wahungu, the Director General of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA-Kenya) and the representatives of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)  and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Desertification is the result of a cycle of land degradation, turning once fertile soils into sterile land because of over-exploitation by intensive farming, forest exploitation for fuel and timber, and overgrazing.
According to Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, without a long-term solution, desertification and land degradation will not only affect food supply but also 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 Goals (SDGs).
WDCD 2016 event advocates for the importance of inclusive cooperation to restore and rehabilitate degraded and contribute towards achieving the overall SDGs.
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.
In 1994, the UN General Assembly declared June 17 the WDCD to promote public awareness of the issue, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.
The slogan: “Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People” provides a strong reminder that strengthening community participation and cooperation at all levels can play a significant role in combating desertification. Join the efforts to deal with desertification and land degradation by planting trees and involving yourself in environmental conservation.
Follow the hashtag #WDC2016Ke on Twitter and Facebook to stay informed on the activities of the World Day to Combat Desertification.
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