Lessons From China



Zimbabwe: Rolling Back the Sahara – Lessons From China


Simple, effective and easy to implement methods must be undertaken in the fight against desertification if hopes to counter the expansion of the Sahara desert can be entertained.

While I do not want to sound like an alarmist, the truth is that the Sahara Desert is expanding southwards. It does not matter how slow, but the arid swathe of land is expected to, eventually after some years, show itself up at the shores of some countries south of the Sahara.

Some scientists actually say the signs that the desert is moving fast downwards will begin to clearly show as early as 2025. To think this is only nine years from now must be enough to cause trepidation. In fact, the scientists say if the trend continues unabated, the whole of Africa will turn into a desert one day.

Sounds too far-fetched? Well, those who study the history of deserts and desertification think this is quite a possibility. As the effects of climate change continue to hit hard due to increasing global warming, it is time for more action to combat the spread of the Sahara. And African countries can learn a lot from how China is combating the spread of its own deserts in simple, but effective ways.

Like Africa, China’s arable land is threatened by deserts in various parts of the country. What is more frightening is that not only are arable lands under threat from this scourge, cities, which took long to establish, also face a huge menace from the deserts. Already, sand storms, commonly referred to as “yellow dust”, are a huge scare in China, often affecting big cities such as the capital Beijing.

What is important is that China is not sitting on its hands.

A big battle is going on in various parts of the country to combat the spread of deserts and stop continued desertification. One of the outstanding examples of successfully fighting the spread of a desert is in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Read the full article: allAfrica


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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