Lack of rainfall in the Sahel ( Yahoo News)

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Urgent action needed to tackle Sahel’s lack of rainfall : UN

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/urgent-action-needed-tackle-sahels-lack-rainfall-un-201842058.html#9TA3Jt0A

A dearth of rainfall in the Sahel could have “severe consequences” for food and agriculture across the region, a UN official said Tuesday, urging urgent action to tackle droughts.

“The countries in the Sahel in general are suffering from a lack of rain this winter, the consequences of which could be severe,” Coumba Mar Gadio, Mauritania’s UN representative, warned at a meeting of regional environment ministers in Nouakchott.

“Most of the rural populations (in the region) are dependent on the rains” for food and work, she said, adding that it was “urgent to put in place sustainable methods of production and consumption.”

The Sahel, which stretches from Mauritania in the west to Eritrea in the east, has undergone three major droughts in less than a decade and has seen huge swathes of land turn to desert.

The UN is backing a regional plan to build a “Great Green Wall” of trees and vegetation which aims to stop the advance of the sands and lessen the effects of desertification.

Many countries in the region are already experiencing a delay in their rainy seasons, and the UN representative said the initiative aimed to strengthen the resilience of countries and communities in the face of climate change.

The green wall will be around 15 kilometres (9 miles) wide and stretch over more than 7,000 kilometres from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east.

(continued)

Posted in Desertification, drought

Construyendo grandes murallas verdes con cactos (Willem Van Cotthem / Fabio Ruiz)

ENGLISH VERSION : http://desertification.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/building-great-green-cactus-walls-willem-van-cotthem/

Construyendo grandes murallas verdes con cactos

Fabio RUIZ

http://colotlan.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/building-great-green-cactus-walls-willem-van-cotthem/

El Profesor Willem Van Cotthem de Bélgica, de quien ya he hablado en otras ocasones en este programa, ha trabajado en diferentes proyectos para la producción de alimentos con el patrocinio de la ONU en África, es inventor de TerraCottem, un sustrato para mejorar los suelos y autor del blog Desertification (http://desertification.wordpress.com/).

En el último artículo hace la siguiente propuesta: Construir murallas verdes con cactáceas (http://desertification.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/building-great-green-cactus-walls-willem-van-cotthem/).

A continuación les ofrezco una traducción del artículo y al final haré mis comentarios:

“Muchos de quienes trabajan en el área de desarrollo están buscando plantas comestibles resistentes a la sequía, que puedan crecer con un mínimo de agua de riego. Desde luego, principalmente piensan en cultivos comestibles y hierbas, a menudo modificadas genéticamente.

Suena casi increíble, pero millones de personas en Centro y Sudamérica comen nopales sin espinas, sin que la gente en otros continentes sigan su ejemplo. Sólo una minoría sabe que muchas partes de la variedad sin espinas del nopal (Opuntia ficus-indica) se comen. No sólo proporciona comida fresca a la gente malnutrida, sino que puede usarse como una cerca viva alrededor de los barbechos. También puede ser importante para el ganado.

Llegará el día en que billones de personas en las zonas áridas cultivarán esta maravillosa cactácea en la casa o la escuela, los campos de refugiados, en los huertos familiares, en el suelo o en contenedores.
Aunque esta especie suave y sin espinas se encuentra en todos los continentes y puede multiplicarse fácilmente plantando pencas individuales, casi nunca se usa para combatir la desertificación en forma de cercas vivas.

No puedo dejar de soñar en una GRAN MURALLA VERDE DE CACTOS a través de África ( o en áreas desérticas en otros continentes, donde sea que se necesite).

En lugar de gastar millones en plantar un cinturón de bosque durante varias décadas, desarrollando plantas en viveros, cavando hoyos, regando los arbolitos y perdiendo muchos de ellos a causa de la sequía, una gran barrera verde de cactos podría establecerse en un mínimo tiempo y a un ridículo bajo costo.

Costaría un cacahuate dispersar esta planta comestible en todas las regiones afectadas por la sequía.

Algunos cuestionarán la posible naturaleza invasiva de esta planta. es recuerdo que esta variedad sin espinas de nopal es COMESTIBLE. ¿No debería uno soñar con una planta invasiva comestible por la gente y los animales en todas las zonas áridas?

Sólo tomen esto en cuenta: es Agosto 2014 y sugiero que comencemos lo más pronto posible con la construcción de la GRAN BARRERA VERDE DE CACTOS, tirando en el suelo pencas de nopal sin espinas. Dejemos a la naturaleza hacer su trabajo: las pencas crecerán fácilmente y las magníficas barreras ayudarán a combatir la desertificación.

¿Qué estamos esperando? “

COMENTARIOS DE FABIO RUIZ

Esto es lo que dice Willem Van Cotthem. Me parece excelente que en otros países promuevan una planta que conocemos de una manera muy cercana pero por otro lado, creo que es una desgracia o no sé como llamarlo para que no suene tan fuerte, que teniendo la planta y los conocimientos no la utilicemos en mayor medida en la región. Además de la variedad sin espinas que se menciona se pueden plantar otras variedades de nopal, por ejemplo las que aquí conocemos como chamacuero, joconostle, chabeño, etc. y también darle una oportunidad a los pitayos.

En el artículo original pueden ver fotos en las que se aprecia los diferentes modos en que se puede cultivar el nopal.

Originalmente publicado en DESERTIFICATION: http://desertification.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/building-great-green-cactus-walls-willem-van-cotthem/

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http://www.pinterest.com/pin/209980401351481234/

Posted in Uncategorized

Raising questions on how the impact of science is measured (SciDevNet)

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http://www.scidev.net/global/publishing/news/highly-influential-scientists-still-rare-in-the-developing-world.html

‘Highly influential’ scientists still rare in the developing world

Speed read

  • Only 86 of about 3,200 in the Highly Cited Researchers list are in developing nations
  • But citations don’t tell the full story, especially on practical, applied research
  • And work from regions such as Asia is now cited more often in mainstream journals
 
The latest list of the world’s most highly cited researchers features few scientists based in developing countries — and none from Africa outside South Africa — exposing the North–South divide and raising questions on how the impact of science is measured.

Thomson Reuters has issued its The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014 report based on analysis of recent citations of published papers across science.

But only 86 out of the approximately 3,200 scientists on the list are affiliated with institutions in the developing world. And they are based in only 12 countries, with most in Saudi Arabia, Iran, India and Turkey, whose combined count is 63.

David Pendlebury, a citations specialist who produces the list and report for Thomson Reuters, says that, clearly, there is a “strong correlation between GDP and citation measures. Pursuing scientific research to a global standard requires significant investment.”

(continued)
Posted in Desertification, Research / science

Funding research may improve the skill base needed for development (DFID / SciDevNet)

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http://www.scidev.net/global/policy/news/research-is-no-panacea-for-development-finds-dfid.html

Research is ‘no panacea’ for development, finds DFID

Speed read

 
  • Evidence fails to support assumptions about how research drives change

  • But funding research may improve the skill base needed for development

  • The ability to use knowledge is a better growth predictor than the ability to create it

Research is “not a panacea” for development in low-income countries despite making “important and significant contributions to socioeconomic development”, according to an impact review of public research by the UK Department for International Development.

Evidence does not back commonly held assumptions about how research leads to change, for example by directly benefiting economic growth and the quality of higher education, the report says.

The lack of impact may be due to a poor interface between science and policy, and weak technology transfer environments needed to convert knowledge into useful products, it says.

(continued)

Posted in Desertification, Research / science

BUILDING GREAT GREEN CACTUS WALLS (Willem Van Cotthem)

Many development workers are looking for drought-tolerant edible plants, to be grown with a minimum of irrigation water.  Of course, they are mostly thinking at food crops and herbs, often genetically modified.

It sounds almost unbelievable, but millions of people in Central and South America are eating spineless cacti (“nopales”) without people on other continents following their example.

Only a minority of people knows that many parts of the spineless variety of the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) are edible (pads, fruits, seeds).  And yet this is an extremely interesting variety of the spiny “Indian Fig” : Opuntia ficus-indica var. inermis. It is not only supplying fresh food to malnourished and hungry people, but can also be used as a living fence around fields or meadows. It can play an important role for livestock.  Amazingly, this cactus can also be trimmed in a tree form.

The day will come that billions of people in the drylands will grow this marvelous cactus at home or at school, even in all the refugee camps, in kitchen gardens, in the field or in containers.

Although these smooth, spineless cacti can be found on every continent and can be easily multiplied by simply planting individual pads, they are almost never used to combat desertification (living fences). 

I can’t stop dreaming of a GREAT GREEN CACTUS WALL across Africa (or in desertified areas on other continents, wherever needed).  Instead of spending billions on planting a forest belt over a period of decades, growing saplings in nurseries, digging plant holes, watering the saplings and loosing many of them because of the drought, a great green cactus wall could be installed in a minimum of time at a ridiculously low cost.

It would cost peanuts to disperse this edible plant (pads or seeds) in all the drought-affected regions.

Some will raise the question of the possible invasive nature of this cactus.  Let me remind that this is the SPINELESS variety of the prickly pear and it is EDIBLE.  Should one not dream of an invasive food crop for people and animals in all the drylands ?

Just remember : it’s August 2014 and I suggest to start as soon as possible with the edification of GREAT GREEN CACTUS WALLS, laying down a ribbon of spineless cactus pads.  Let nature do its work : the pads will grow easily and magnificent “barriers” will help to combat desertification.

What are we waiting for ?

All photos below found on Pinterest.

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A spineless cactus wall

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Pads at the top with flower buds and flowers

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Tree-like development of a spineless cactus

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“Cactus tree” with “stems” at the base

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Some Opuntias can be grown into a tree-like structure

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They can be grown in the backyard

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An ornamental that can be eaten

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Enormous biomass with a bit of water

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Edible pads and “barbary figs”

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A gift for the hungry people and malnourished children

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So easy to multiply

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Even in containers

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Posted in Uncategorized

LOOKING FOR AN EDIBLE PLANT FOR THE DRYLANDS ? (Willem Van Cotthem)

Why is this spineless Opuntia ficus-indica van. inermis not dispersed in all the drylands ?

The pads are edible, the juicy fruits too.

Every single pad can be planted to form a new “cactus tree”.  It doesn’t need watering and forms a maximum of edible biomass with a minimum of water.

It can easily be trimmed into a hedge.

Development workers : GIVE THIS PLANT A CHANCE !

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http://www.pinterest.com/pin/357684395378206699/

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http://www.pinterest.com/pin/386817055466505321/

Posted in Uncategorized

UNCCD meetings (IISD)

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http://land-l.iisd.org/news/unccd-iwg-discusses-ldn-regional-conference-discusses-economics-of-land-degradation/

UNCCD IWG Discusses LDN, Regional Conference Discusses Economics of Land Degradation

The Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has released summaries from recent meetings of the Convention’s Inter-Governmental Working Group (IWG) on the follow-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) and a regional conference on the economics of land degradation.

The second meeting of the IWG took place from 16-18 July 2014, in Beijing, China. The meeting was opened by China’s new UNCCD National Focal Point, Pan Yingzhen. UNCCD Executive Secretary, Monique Barbut, urged the IWG to make progress on defining the concept of land degradation neutrality (LDN) and identifying options to achieve its implementation at the national level. Barron Orr, University of Arizona, stressed that practical monitoring and evaluation tools will be required to measure progress.

The IWG members discussed the work of three task forces, which are considering the definition of LDN, options for Parties that wish to achieve LDN, and the implications for the Convention’s current and future strategy, programmes and the resource requirements.

(continued)

 

Posted in Desertification