Since 1990, 1.7 billion people have gained access to safe drinking water, but 884 million people are still without. By 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.

This 5th CROSSTALKS book presents a series of great academic and corporate projects that address the challenges associated with water governance and environmental issues, intertwined with contributions by world-class artists who give us a language to discuss these challenges in a metaphorical yet often crystal clear way.

With water government as one of the 7 critical issues at the upcoming RIO20+ Conference, this book forms the perfect background literature.

Marleen Wynants, Goedele Nuyttens (eds.), Bridges over Troubled Waters, VUBPRESS, 272 p.

ISBN 978-90-7028-928-7

The book can be ordered on or on

Desertification Indicators (Google / Wiley)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

Desertification Indicators: From Concept to Practice

  1. Anton Imeson1,2

Published Online: 21 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781119977759.ch3

Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Introduction

  • Approaches to desertification indicators

  • Global and regional indicators of land degradation and desertification

  • Applying selected concepts in practice

  • Desertification, resilience and stability

  • The soil and water conservation and protection functions

  • Spatial variability and discontinuity

  • Hydrological indicators of desertification

  • Water in the soil and landscape

  • References and further reading


New York, Feb 23 2012  6:05PM
The United Nations food relief agency <““> announced today its partnership with the producers of the upcoming film <i>The Hunger Games</i>, based on the best-selling science fiction novels, to raise awareness about hunger around the world.

A video starring the film’s cast, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, was launched by the World Food Programme (WFP) and film studio Lionsgate urging fans to help end hunger. The video can be found on a <““> website created for the cause where users can test and expand their knowledge on global hunger and can make contributions to help fight it.

“This partnership will help us spread the word that hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem,” said Nancy Roman, WFP Director of Communications, adding that millions of readers identified with the characters in <i>The Hunger Games</i> trilogy, and are excited about the upcoming movie, which will be released next month.

The first novel in the series, written by Suzanne Collins, was released in 2008 and has since been translated into 26 languages, selling over 800,000 copies.

“We want to tap into that excitement,” Ms. Roman said. “If all of us did just one small thing to fight hunger we could end hunger around the world.  We are deeply grateful for the support of Suzanne Collins, who writes as though she understands hunger in the world, as well as Lionsgate and <i>The Hunger Games</i> cast – who have the power to change lives as they feed people worldwide,” she added.

According to WFP, hunger affects one in seven people – almost one billion men, women and children around the world.
For more details go to UN News Centre at

Follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter (


MY COMMENT (Willem Van Cotthem)

  1. How to raise awareness about hunger around the world ? With The Hunger Games ?
  2. “Hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem” (Nancy ROMAN, WFP) ?

Yes, with family gardens all over the world (see photos below) !

2010 – Family garden in a refugee garden in S.W. Algeria (Photo P. HITTEPOLE)
2010 – Food production in a family garden in The Philippines, applying container gardening (Photo Jojo ROM)
2010 – Urban food production : cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes etc. on a balcony (Photo Edrick Tobias MOLINA)
Jojo ROM (The Philippines) spreading the good news : hunger and malnutrition can be alleviated with container gardening (Photo Jojo ROM)

If all of us did just one small thing to fight hunger we could end hunger around the world” (Ms. Nancy Roman).

Well, if all of us did just that one small thing : giving all hungry people a chance to  start a kitchen garden wherever they live, in the smallest village or in the biggest city, we could easily put a big step towards ending hunger.

“…………   who have the power to change lives as they feed people worldwide” ?  Well, we have that power by helping all the hungry to a family garden and the malnourished children at school to a school garden, e.g. by teaching them the basic principles of the cheapest of all methods : container gardening.

Ask the refugees in Algeria, ask the members of the Urban Farmers Club (UCG).

Radio spots to raise awareness on proper hygiene, water treatment, and storage (Acted)

Read at :

PODCAST Radio spots help reduce malnutrition in Kenya

Community-based women’s groups receive hygiene training in in Soweto, Samburu East District, Kenya

MARALAL, Kenya [ACTED News] – Limited access to clean water is showing negative impacts on malnutrition rates in Samburu County, Kenya. Contamination at the source and household level is apparent due to lack of knowledge of safe water and food handling, and the absence of water treatment systems. In order to raise awareness on proper hygiene, water treatment, and storage, ACTED with UNICEF funding has aired 36 key hygiene and sanitation messages and 27 longer feature stories on Serian FM, a local community radio station. These radio spots are expected to reach at least 5,000 individuals in their local language, although more people will benefit as the station airs to an audience of 50,000.


A Green Revolution for trees (Agricultural Biodiverssity Weblog)

Read at :

A Green Revolution for trees


Prof Roger Leakey, sometime of ICRAF (among other places), where he pioneered tree domestication in support of rural livelihoods, and now Vice Chairman of the International Tree Foundation, has a fascinating new book in the offing.

In contrast to the doom and gloom often emanating from the tropics, ‘Living with the Trees of Life’ illustrates how many different aspects of agricultural science can be combined into a more robust approach to farming, which will be productive, as well as more environmentally and socially sustainable. This approach uses agroforestry as a delivery mechanism for multifunctional agriculture aimed at addressing the cycle of land degradation and social deprivation in the tropics. A key role in this is played by the ‘Trees of Life’, the large number of indigenous trees that produce marketable fruits, nuts, medicines and other products of day-to-day importance in the lives of local people throughout the tropics.

The book promises to be very practical.


Are these five media innovations really working to reduce hunger ? (WorldWatch Institute / Willem Van Cotthem’s comment)

Read at :

Five Media Innovations that Help Feed the Planet

“Worldwatch researchers offered a diverse selection of sustainability posts last week. In this one, we discussed five media innovations that are working to reduce hunger around the world. In this post, we discussed new environmental initiatives in China, including a Working Plan to Control Greenhouse Gas Emissions, to achieve the country’s energy and carbon emission intensity targets. And in this entry, we discussed the Jordan Valley Permaculture Program, which is using permaculture to re-green the Dead Sea Valley in Jordan.”


Robert Engelman
Worldwatch Institute


Five Media Innovations That Help Feed the Planet

By Isaac Hopkins

As modern technology is adopted in widespread regions of our planet, it can provide poor people with access to many forms of media. Innovations like the internet and satellite technology are changing the face of food system solutions in even the poorest countries.

Today, Nourishing the Planet introduces five forms of media that can use the power of information to combat hunger.

1. Television: Access to television is expanding all over the planet. ……………….

2. Videos: Airing informational programs may not always be the most efficient way to put television sets to work to feed people. …………………..

3. Community Websites: The foundation of successful and sustainable growth in food production is communication. …………………..

4. News Media Partnerships: News media, from local papers to international corporations, wield incredible power through the information that they distribute. ………………

5. Mobile Phones: ……………….  “With subscription services like daily weather and crop market updates, major service providers are utilizing this emerging form of media to aid farmers in making smart decisions.”

Isaac Hopkins is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.


MY COMMENT  (Willem Van Cotthem)

Needless to confirm that (1) television, (2) videos, (3) websites, (4) news media partnerships and (5) mobile phones may “wield an incredible power through the information that they distribute.

But, how are they helping to feed the planet ?

(1) Television : “……………. so thousands of Kenyans have learned a new method of increasing production by watching a soap opera!

(2) Videos : ” …………….. farmer-to-farmer videos go beyond traditional training videos by fully explaining the techniques and why they work.

(3) Community websites : ” …………….. Individual communities have begun to implement websites that foster open transfer of ideas and innovation throughout the community“.

(4) News Media Partnerships : ” ……………..  They are working to directly link farmers, researchers, and policy-makers, so that they can quickly implement and scale up innovations and policies that will provide food security for these countries. ………. an “important information hub on agricultural related issues.”

(5) Mobile Phones : “………………  With subscription services like daily weather and crop market updates, major service providers are utilizing this emerging form of media to aid farmers in making smart decisions”


For decades already international and national efforts have been produced and trillions of dollars have been spent at combating hunger, but more than 1 billion impoverished people are still living constantly in a situation of hunger or malnutrition.

It goes without saying that many members of the international community have a considerable interest in helping to feed the planet :

  • through soap operas at television,
  • through a choice of videos on low- and high-tech farming techniques,
  • through community websites for the poorest,
  • through partnerships between policy-makers, researchers and farmers to implement and scale up innovations providing food security,
  • through messages on weather forecast and market opportunities on the mobile phones of the 1 billion hungry.

Maybe I overlooked something in this fairy tale about all these poor people having a television set, a computer and a mobile phone ?  Maybe I don’t understand how these hungry people are getting something to eat before they are watching the soap opera or the videos at their television set ?  Aren’t they hungry anymore when sitting at night in front of their computer to study the community website ?  Who’s paying for the use of their cheap mobile phones to listen to the weather forecast or to read SMS messages about the market and banking conditions in their village ?

Please tell me where my reasoning is wrong when I am thinking that a kitchen garden for every family, a school garden for every school, a hospital garden for every medical center, bottle towers on every balcony in the cities or in every small backyard, are dramatically stronger tools to combat hunger than “innovations like the internet and satellite technology… changing the face of food system solutions in even the poorest countries by providing communities with important information.

I remain convinced that the most valuable information on food system solutions is totally useless for a person with an empty stomach.

Instead of offering these poor hungry people technological innovations, for which they will have to pay, we should teach them how to grow their own food at home and give their children decent, vitamin-rich meals, instead of a handful of carbohydrates with some sauce.

A constantly growing number of people, both in rural and in urban areas, is showing that container gardening is the highway to a better food-secure future.  That’s the good news for the media.

2011 : Bottle tower gardening, the most affordable technique to grow food at home for every person on earth (Photo WVC)
2011 : Lettuce, celery, any vegetable, any herb can be grown in containers, recycled bottles, pots, buckets, sacks, ... That's combating hunger in every backyard or house, on all the continents, in villages, towns and cities, everywhere (Photo WVC)

GIS and Desertification in the Arab World (Google / IDOSI)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

Estimating Desertification in the Arab World Using GIS Approach

Ali Mansour Ali Saad and Noresah Mohd Shariff

Geography Programme, School of Distance Education, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Minden, Malaysia

Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research 8 (6): 1046-1053, 2011
ISSN 1990-9233
© IDOSI Publications, 2011


More than 150 countries of the world are facing the problems of desertification and this figure includes most of the Arab countries. About one-third of desert lands in the world are located in the Arab countries. Approximately, 90 percent of the total area of the Arab world is categorized as dry land and is characterized by harsh environment, fragile ecosystems in addition to limited water resources and arable lands. Several efforts have been made thus far to bring to a halt the desertification in Arab countries but still, it remains the major environmental problem in the region. Several factors such as increasing
population growth, increasing demands of food and other natural products and migration are identified to be the major contributing factors for desertification.

This paper analyzes the status of desertification in the Arab countries, identifies the major causes and trends of land degradation and accentuates the limitations and constraints in combating desertification. This study also highlights the applications of remote sensing and GIS in estimating and monitoring desertification in the Arab countries. GIS and remote sensing techniques can provide improved quality and quantity of information on degradation trends over large areas and provide for more effective management of the information about desertification.


A new Global Framework on Climate Services (Google / United Nations Radio)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

Information on climate helps poor farmers

Providing scientific information about climate and weather patterns particularly in developing countries helps farmers to engage in agriculture and fight desertification.

That’s according to the head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud who is attending a conference on combating desertification in Changwon, South Korea.

WMO is working on a new Global Framework on Climate Services to provide relevant and timely information to all countries and communities around the world.


Book : ‘Desertification, Land Degradation and Sustainability’ (A. IMESON / Wiley)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

Imeson, Anton

1. Edition – November 2011
ca. 44.90 Euro
2011. 352 Pages, Softcover
ISBN-10: 0-470-71449-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-470-71449-2 – John Wiley & Sons

Detailed description
Desertification offers a comprehensive overview of the subject and clearly emphasizes the link between local and global desertification processes and how past and current policy has affected arid environments and their populations.

This text adequately applies the research undertaken during the last 15 years on the topic. Desertification has become increasingly politicized and there is a need to present and explain the facts from a global perspective. This book tackles the issues surrounding desertification in a number of ways from differing scales (local to global), processes (physical to human), the relationship of desertification to current global development and management responses at different scales. Desertification has been mainstreamed and integrated into other areas of concern and has consequently been ignored as a cross cutting issue. The book redresses this balance.



A social media campaign (Google / WebWire)

Read at : Google Alert – images of the Africa Drought

World Vision supporters launch global online campaign to make #FamineNoMore


Social networks seen as crucial to spread the word, boost donations amidst difficult fundraising climate and waning media attention.

SEATTLE, Washington – Supporters and donors of Christian humanitarian organization World Vision today helped launch a social media campaign across the United States and a dozen other nations to increase awareness and raise more funds for the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa. Participants will be invited to skip a meal and donate the sum via text messaging, view and share aid worker videos from the frontlines of the crisis, and pass on their own thoughts using the Twitter hashtag #FamineNoMore and campaign website

“As we struggle to respond to the worst drought in 60 years, the influence and reach of our Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and blogger friends is greater and more critical than ever before” said American aid worker Perry Mansfield, currently serving as World Vision’s drought response director in Nairobi.

As friends ask friends to join the fight, give what they can and keep the conversation alive, we hope to mobilize thousands more people to drive concern and action for the 12 million children and adults stalked by hunger and malnutrition in the Horn of Africa.”



To relate the immediacy of human suffering to political and economic structures (Google / Aljazeera)

Read at : Google Alert – images of the Africa Drought

Journalism and the politics of hunger

The struggle against starvation, violence and disease is also the struggle to understand and describe the world.

Dan Hind

Media consumers become interested in events in the Third World when they are provided context by journalists who examine issues like climate change, foreign intervention and economic trends [AFP]

Reports of famine vary wildly in their impact. Sometimes images of emaciated children in relief camps provoke an outpouring of charitable giving. The music and entertainment industry rally round as concerts are organised and television specials are aired. But usually the response is more muted. Other stories push famine off the agenda. The fact of avoidable death on a vast scale fades into the background, where it becomes part of a more general anxiety felt by citizens of rich countries. We can see the need for action but, apart from making a charitable donation, we don’t know what to do. In our more shameful moments we tell ourselves that famine is natural, something that happens over there, an immemorial misfortune. There are too many people, the food is bound to run out sometimes. It is nature. If it is somebody’s fault, it is the fault of the people there, of feckless peasants or corrupt elites.

 And so we veer between humanitarian zeal and uneasy or callous indifference. Journalists in the midst of a catastrophe know they are competing with domestic stories, not to mention the attention grabbing wiles of the celebrity industry. They do all they can to bring home the scale of human suffering. The result is often a kind of terrible sublime. Individuals are presented as being caught in events beyond human comprehension and outside history. In his 1984  broadcast from Korem in Ethiopia, Michael Buerk talked of “a biblical famine, now, in the twentieth century”. Then, famously, his reporting helped inspire Band Aid. All too often, similar journalism fails to connect with an audience that has become used to famine as a collection of heart-rending images and phrases. Faced with something so awful we are tempted to turn away.

There are ways of talking about famine that don’t rely so heavily on emotional appeals and that instead relate the immediacy of human suffering to political and economic structures. News professionals are apt to insist that they have to focus on the emotive and the dramatic if they are to stand any chance of engaging their audiences. But, as Tom Mills of the New Left Project notes, there are grounds for thinking that the professionals have this one wrong. In 2002 Greg Philo summarised three major studies by the Glasgow Media Group that explored UK media coverage and public understanding of the developing world.

Providing context

Philo noted “a widespread belief in broadcasting that audiences are not interested in factual programming about the developing world”. But though this view was widespread, there was little to support it.




Niogeria : T6V to raise awareness among public on the threat of desertification (Google / UNCCD)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

It’s real: Experiencing the consequences of desertification through TV

10/08/2011 – Fight against desert encroachment (FADE) of Nigeria initiates the TV Reality Show to raise awareness among public on the threat of desertification.

Dr. Newton Jibunoh only knows too well that no amount of endurance-testing exercises, physical fitness challenges or driving skills can prepare you well enough for an expedition across the Saharan desert from Nigeria to the United Kingdom by car. He has had to brace massive sandstorms, extremely high temperatures, desert animals, and bandits. Nevertheless, he has done it four times.

This year, the expedition is planned for November with 15 – 20 selected candidates. This will also involve a TV reality show elimination contest that will feature about 50 selected applicants camped in a desert African country. The first expedition was in 1967, followed by a second one in 2000, the third one in 2008, and the fourth one being in 2010. In the first two expeditions, Dr. Jibunoh travelled on his own from Ghana and Lagos respectively, to London by car.

The first reality show took place in Agadez, Niger Republic from February 1 to February 14, 2010. It involved 44 contestants with 59 television crew personnel and support staff. The content of the reality show was designed to:



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