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Desertification in Senegal

Photo credit: BBC

“Here we live off the land and if it doesn’t work we are in so much trouble”, says Amadou Souare

Desertification: The people whose land is turning to dust

There used to be much more rain in northern Senegal - http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/041D/production/_86635010_3-cheikhou-lo-peanut-field.jpg
There used to be much more rain in northern Senegal – http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/041D/production/_86635010_3-cheikhou-lo-peanut-field.jpg

The UN predicts over 50 million people will be forced to leave their homes by 2020 because their land has turned to desert. This is already happening in Senegal, writes Laeila Adjovi.

Cattle herder Khalidou Badara took me up a hill in Louga, northern Senegal, to describe to me how his area has changed.

“When I was a child, I did not even dare to walk up to here because the vegetation was so dense.

“But these past few years, the wind and sand have been taking over.

“There are almost no more trees, and the grass does not grow anymore, and so each year, we have to go further and further away to find grazing for our cattle.”

His life has become more complicated because of desertification.

He’s not the only one. The UN says land degradation affects 1.5 billion people globally.

Desertification is the persistent degradation of dry land ecosystems by human activities and by climate change.

It translates into scarcer rains and decreasing soil quality, which leads to less grazing for livestock and lower crop yield.

Lost land

Each year, UN figures say, 12 million hectares of land are lost. That’s land where 20 million tonnes of grain could have been grown.

Read the full article: BBC

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.