How desertification has turned into a monstrous challenge for Africa


Photo credit: Down to Earth

In Africa, desertification is said to be happening at an estimated 20,000 hectares per year

Desertification in Africa: 10 things you must know

Those who live off the land cannot afford to see their future go dry. Desertification has triggered displacements across the world. Each year, millions of hectares of land are lost. According to the UN agencies, land degradation affects 1.5 billion people globally. Their reports reveal how desertification has turned into a monstrous challenge for Africa:

  • Dry lands cover 65 per cent of the continent. One-third of this area is hyper-arid deserts and completely uninhabited, except in oases. The remaining two-thirds of the dry lands, which comprise arid and semi-arid lands, are home to about 400 million Africans.
  • Africa also suffers from inherently low soil fertility as the bedrock consists of granites and gneiss. Most of the soils in Africa are characterised by a low proportion of clay, making them easy to work and also easy to lose.
  • Every year, Africa loses about 280 million tonnes of cereal crops from about 105 million hectares of croplands. This can be prevented if soil erosion is curbed.
  • Poverty-related agricultural practices are a major contributor to desertification. Continuous cultivation without adding supplements, overgrazing, lack of soil and water conservation structures, and indiscriminate bushfires aggravate the process of desertification.
  • Read the full story: Down to Earth

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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