Desertification, a silent menace


Photo credit: Stratagem

The Silent Menace of Desertification


by Dr. Syeda Benish Ali


Desertification refers to the process of degradation of economically productive land in dry areas. Desertification has long been recognized as a major environmental and societal problem emerging from a combination of climatic factors and human activities.

Drylands make up 40% of the world land mass and sustaining 44% of the world’s food production systems as well as 50% of the world’s livestock. According to UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) every year around 12 million hectares of productive land is lost worldwide due to drought and desertification thus hampering the life-supporting systems sustained by these lands.

Pakistan is mainly a dryland country with around 80% of the land being arid or semi-arid supporting the livelihoods of around two-thirds of the country’s population. However due to rapid land degradation and desertification largely arising from human activities, we are losing this vital non-renewable resource.

The challenge of desertification

In recent decades, desertification has largely been driven by human interventions posing serious threats to several populations across the globe. Desertification is a self-accelerating process involving a range of inter-connected phenomena many of which are both causative and consequential.

Read the full article: Stratagem


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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