ICTs to help poor rural people cope with the impact of water scarcity, desertification and drought (Google / IFAD)

Read at : Google Alerts – desertification


World Day to Combat Desertification: Harnessing technology to cope with drought and water scarcity

Contrary to a common misconception, the term ‘desertification’ does not refer to advancing deserts, though it can involve the encroachment of sand dunes on arable land. Rather, desertification is the persistent degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas known as drylands. Over time, such degradation creates desert-like conditions.

Desertification can result from overgrazing, over-cultivation, deforestation and poorly planned irrigation systems. Climate change exacerbates the problem, as frequent droughts, floods and other extreme weather events accelerate land degradation, exhausting the soil’s capacity to support agriculture. As a result, desertification annually depletes about 12 million hectares of cultivable land, enough to grow 20 million tonnes of grain.

For a billion people around the world who live in dryland regions, halting that trend is an urgent priority – a priority that is in the spotlight on 17 June, World Day to Combat Desertification, an annual United Nations observance. This year, the day is dedicated to raising awareness and taking action on the increasing scarcity of freshwater required to sustain crops and livestock, and ensure food security in drylands.

Effective action

Because desertification threatens food security, IFAD invests substantial resources in support of drylands agriculture. At the same time, IFAD and its partners are harnessing information and communications technologies, or ICTs, to help poor rural people cope with the impact of water scarcity, desertification and drought.

These cutting-edge technologies – most notably, satellite imaging – are being used to implement the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). They have the potential to facilitate more effective action on the problem by providing reliable data about weather conditions and crop yields in regions at risk.

IFAD : Irrigation Project in Swaziland (IFAD / IISD)

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IFAD Irrigation Project Improves Livelihoods, Increases Climate Resilience in Swaziland

A long-standing irrigation project implemented by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Swaziland has reported results in increasing adaptation to climate change, conserving biodiversity and reducing land degradation through sustainable land management (SLM) practices.

The Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project, which has run from 2004-2013, is reducing the impact of issues surrounding water scarcity through collaboration on constructing water harvesting tanks with the Women in Development department in the Ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development. The tanks divert overflow water to backyard gardens, building resilience of local populations and benefiting the livelihoods of the rural poor.

The effect of zais on desertification (Google / UNCCD / IFAD / YOU TUBE)



Re-greening in Niger, a road trip with Dr Chris Reij

This 9 minute film is an insight into the work of soil and water conservation expert, Dr Chris Reij. In June 2012 I joined him on a whistle-stop tour of communities in southern Niger. This area is right on the edge of the Sahara and yet growing in the sandy soil are an abundance of vegetables, cereal crops and trees.

The film was made with funding support from IFAD.

Permaculture improving livelihoods (IFAD)

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By Lynn Kota

Sbulelo Gamedze is full of smiles as she opens the gate and welcomes us into her beautiful garden. She has never been involved in any form of farming, before she became interested after attending trainings conducted by LUSLM (Lower Usuthu  Sustainable Land Management -GEF) Sustainable Agriculture coordinator Mr NormanMavuso on Permaculture gardening. She started attending the trainings which took place at Madlenya area, beginning in July 2012 and two months down the line she has her own beautiful permaculture garden which has already started to help her feed a family of 6 people.   So far from her garden she has harvested spinach and lettuce which takes a much shorter time to be ready for consumption. Her garden has other vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, garlic, onions and cabbages. Through attending the training she was motivated her to start a garden and what motivated her even more was the thought of saving money because if she had a garden then she won’t have to spend money buying vegetables from the markets.

“Madlenya area is  faced with a serious issue of  shortage of water so this is the perfect way of growing vegetables because you only water the garden twice a week and your produce is very good and healthy’’ she notes. “The water that we are encouraged to use is ‘grey water’, which is water that we have already used for other purposes in the household, like washing dishes and bathing. We are then taught how to purify this water for re-use in our gardens”, she adds.

All was not smooth as she faced some challenges in establishing her garden ”I didn’t have all the necessary garden tools to start and maintain a garden but during the trainings we were encouraged to use any available tools around the house, I didn’t have a fork so I used a hoe instead, I also didn’t have a watering can so I used a bucket to water my garden.  For preparing liquid manure, I used an old drum, which had been lying around in the yard”.


Improved crop, soil and water management practices will result in higher yields than smallholders are currently achieving under their low-input systems (IFAD)

Read at : IFAD electronic newsletter


What are the constraints and opportunities for Conservation Agriculture in Africa?

Over the past ten years there has been an endless debate over the relevance of the ‘Conservation Agriculture’ (CA) paradigm to the livelihood aspirations of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In the realm of academic research, debate is welcomed and seen to strengthen and advance research. Unfortunately, when we move into the realm of development, the debates that take place between the promoters and skeptics on the ‘principles’ and ‘process’ of an intervention – in this case CA – may not help the development of sustainable production systems. In fact, it could be argued that such debates send the wrong messages to policy makers and donors.

From the growing body of literature, it is clear that neither the promoters nor the skeptics are 100 per cent right or wrong about CA. Irrespective of your position, it is crucial that we start to clearly document experiences with CA in a simple and open way, so that lessons and good practice can be shared and adapted to specific contexts. It is essential that the real constraints to the uptake of interventions be identified and reported. For example, what are the constraints to crop rotation, adoption of improved soil fertility and water management interventions, and improved germplasm? Many legume crops promoted for inclusion in a rotation require much more labour than a cereal crop, yet these issues are rarely considered.

These challenges will be further compounded in the near future by increasing daily temperatures, more erratic rainfall and a reduction in the length of the growing season throughout much of SSA, due to climate change. In fact, temperature increases will have greater negative impacts on crop production than the relatively small changes in rainfall, as the rate of plant development will be increased and crops will mature earlier. The adoption of existing recommendations for improved crop, soil and water management practices, even under climate change, will result in higher yields than smallholders are currently achieving under their low-input systems.


World Day to Combat Desertification (IFAD)

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World Day to Combat Desertification: ‘We can all make a difference’

ROME, Italy, 13 June 2012 – ‘Desertification’ is an awkward word for an ugly phenomenon that ranks among the greatest environmental challenges of our time. Yet most people, it seems fair to say, either haven’t heard of it or don’t understand it.

Although desertification can include the encroachment of sand dunes on land, it doesn’t refer to the advance of deserts. Rather, it is the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems by human activities – including unsustainable farming, mining, overgrazing and clear-cutting of land – and by climate change. Drylands are already fragile. As they become degraded, the impact on people, livestock and the environment can be devastating.

Every year since 1995, the United Nations World Day to Combat Desertification has been raising public awareness about the need for international cooperation to prevent desertification and mitigate the effects of drought. Observed on 17 June, the day also commemorates the adoption of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, which has been signed by 194 member states.

In 2012, it falls on the eve of the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, better known as Rio+20, which is being held in Brazil 20 years after the first global environmental summit took place there. Since land is the planet’s most significant non-renewable resource, the connections between desertification and Rio+20 are self-evident. The summit offers world leaders an opportunity to commit to a future without land degradation.


UN efforts poorly coordinated with insufficient focus on measuring results (Google / Triple Pundit)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification


Bill Gates Pushes UN on Food Productivity

By RP Siegel |

Last week, Bill Gates gave a speech in Rome, calling on the UN to set a target for agricultural productivity growth.

Gates was somewhat critical of agencies like the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Program, calling their efforts poorly coordinated with insufficient focus on measuring results.

Gates was, in effect, calling for the agencies to adapt a more corporate-like management style with a stronger focus on productivity. This obviously worked quite well for Microsoft, making Mr. Gates the richest man in the world in the process, but is more productivity the right answer for feeding the world’s hungry?

In a world where farmers are paid not to plant crops in order to keep prices high, is productivity really the answer?


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Asian Famers’ Association called on IFAD for support towards sustainable smallholder agriculture

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

AFA, the regional alliance of national federations and organisations of small scale women and men farmers and producers in Asia, lobbies for a strong and influential voice of small scale (young, men and women) farmers in Asia. In the opening statement read by Secretary General Ma. Estrella Penunia, AFA informed IFAD of the victories of small farmers and producers since the last Farmers Forum (FAFO) in 2010.

These successes include the UN declaration of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, implementation of the Medium Term Cooperation Program in the Asia Pacific, implementation of the Global Agriculture for Food Security Program with the participation of farmers’ organisations, and organisation of the Civil Society Mechanism for the UN Committee on Food Security also with farmers’ organisations participation.


More Food for Everyone by Scaling Up (Google / allAfrica)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification


Africa: More Food for Everyone – From Rural Enterprises to Climate-Smart Technologies – Scaling Up Is the Solution

International Fund for Agricultural Development (Rome)

press release

Rome — Development leaders, and heads of state and government will congregate in Rome for the 35th session of the Governing Council, the annual meeting of the highest decision-making body of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Mario Monti, Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy, Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, and Joseph Boakai, Vice President of the Republic of Liberia will be keynote speakers at the 22-23 February meeting attended by representatives of IFAD’s 167 Member States.

The major highlight of this year’s Governing Council meeting will be its interactive events, one of which will be led by Bill Gates, Founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who will share his perspective on the importance of agriculture and how sustainable productivity improvements can reduce poverty in developing countries. He will challenge both global players and national governments to adopt a new approach to supporting smallholder farmers.

The Governing Council of IFAD meets at a critical time when the Sahel region is facing severe food shortages with more than one million children at risk of starvation.

“The situation we face today in the Sahel is the result – at least in part – of decades of failure to build resilience to drought and natural calamity by investing in agriculture,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD. “We must ensure that the work and the funding for long-term resilience increases, even after this particular emergency has passed and the spotlight has moved on to another part of the world.”



New York, Feb 21 2012  5:05PM
Representatives of the millions of smallholders, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers around the world have agreed at a United Nations forum in Rome on the need to jointly address the global challenges of food insecurity and climate change.

“As we have seen from the droughts in the Horn of Africa last year and the Sahel now, and the floods that have recently devastated parts of Australia, Fiji and Mozambique – and even the unusual amount of snow here in Italy – farmers are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather and shifts in climate patterns,” <“http://www.ifad.org/media/press/2012/9.htm”>said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

“This growing level of climate risk and uncertainty is one of the major challenges facing agriculture and food systems today, particularly where it is combined with land degradation, water scarcity and fierce competition for natural resources,” he told participants at the Fourth Global Meeting of the Farmers’ Forum yesterday. Continue reading “LEADERS CONVENE AT UN FARMERS’ FORUM TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGES (UN News)”


New York, Feb 13 2012  4:05PM

The leaders of United Nations aid agencies, humanitarian organizations and donor governments will meet on Wednesday in Rome to discuss how to urgently scale up assistance in Africa’s Sahel region, where drought and food shortages are threatening millions of lives.

“The needs of the millions affected by drought in the Sahel are enormous, and the time to act is now,” <“http://www.wfp.org/news/news-release/wfp-host-joint-meeting-humanitarian-agencies-deteriorating-situation-sahel-region-“>said Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which will host the meeting at its headquarters.

“This gathering comes at a critical moment as humanitarian agencies are gearing up their response in an effort to prevent a crisis becoming a disaster.”

The Sahel is a regional belt spanning West and Central Africa immediately south of the Sahara Desert and it includes a number of countries which have been regularly afflicted by food insecurity.

Last year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that several areas of the Sahel had been affected by irregular rains during the 2011 cropping season and that an early end to the rains would lead to a significant drop in production and increased food insecurity.

Participants at the meeting, which will hosted at WFP’s headquarters, are expected to include the heads of FAO; the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), as well as the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos and top officials from the European Union and the United States.
For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

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