World Day to Combat Desertification

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United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June 

Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are
destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD.(See PRESS RELEASE below).


Willem Van Cotthem: We keep hoping that success stories and best practices will be applied at the global level. Priority should be given to methods and techniques providing daily fresh food to the hungry and malnourished. It cannot be denied that hunger and malnutrition are constantly undermining the performances of people. Application of existing success stories in local food production (kitchen gardens, school gardens, hospital gardens, …) would positively influence the efforts to combat desertification (limiting erosion, stimulating reforestation, etc.). We keep hoping.

ReplyUnited Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Hi Willem Van Cotthem, would you like to share some success stories you have? We always welcome all to share!”

       ReplyWillem Van Cotthem : Hello Friends at the UNCCD Secretariat: It will be my pleasure to select a series of success stories in the literature. However, I am convinced that the UNCCD secretariat has the necessary documentation to compile even a book on this subject (to the best of my knowledge the documents, e.g. presentations at COPs and meetings of CST and CRIC, have been there during my active period in the CST and in Bonn). Please consider a consultancy to achieve top class work that would serve all member countries, the CST and the CRIC. To be presented at the next World Day June 17th 2016.

UNCCD’s Monique Barbut Calls for Long‐Term Solutions Not Just Quick Fixes To Drought Bonn, Germany, 22/02/2016 –
“Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People. This is the slogan for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June. I am calling for solidarity from the international community with the people who are battling the ravages of drought and flood. Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The droughts and floods beating down on communities in many parts of the world are linked to the current El Niño, which is expected to affect up 60 million people by July. In some areas, including in North Eastern Brazil, Somali, Ethiopia, Kenya and Namibia, the El Niño effects are coming on the back of years of severe and recurrent droughts. It is impossible for households that rely on the land for food and farm labor to recover, especially when the land is degraded.
What’s more, these conditions do not just devastate families and destabilize communities. When they are not attended to urgently, they can become a push factor for migration, and end with gross human rights abuses and long‐term security threats.
“We have seen this before – in Darfur following four decades of droughts and desertification and, more recently, in Syria, following the long drought of 2007‐2010. It is tragic to see a society breaking down when we can reduce the vulnerability of communities through simple and affordable acts such as restoring the degraded lands they live on, and helping countries to set up better systems for drought early warning and to prepare for and manage drought and floods,” Barbut said.
Ms Barbut made the remarks when announcing the plans for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification, which will take place on 17 June.
“I hope that World Day to Combat Desertification this year marks a turning point for every country. We need to show, through practical action and cooperation, how every country is tacking or supporting these challenges at the front‐end to preempt or minimize the potential impacts of the disasters, not just at the back‐end after the disasters happen,” she stated.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 17 June as the observance Day to raise public awareness about international efforts to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
Ms Barbut thanked the Government and People of China, for offering to host the global observance event, which will take place at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
“China has vast experience in nursing degraded lands and man‐made deserts back to health. This knowledge can and should benefit initiatives such as Africa’s Great Green Wall, the re‐ greening in southern Africa and the 20 X 20 Initiative in Latin America. We can create a better, more equal and climate change‐resilient world,” she noted.
“I also call on countries, the private sector, foundations and people of goodwill to support Africa  when the countries meet later in the year to develop concrete plans and policies to pre‐ empt, monitor and manage droughts,” Ms Barbut stated.
The 2016 World Day campaign is also advancing the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September last year. The Goals include a target to achieve a land degradation‐neutral world by 2030. That is, a world where the land restored back to health equals to, or is more than, the amount degraded every year.
For more information on the Day and previous events, visit:‐and‐campaigns/WDCD/Pages/default.aspx
For background information and materials for the 2016 Observance, visit: For information about the Global Observance event, visit:‐and‐ campaigns/WDCD/wdcd2016/Pages/default.aspx
Contact for World Day to Combat Desertification:
For Media information:



Participating in the tenth session of the Conference of Parties

to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

1.      The civil society organizations (CSOs) meeting in Changwon on the occasion of the tenth session of the Conference of Parties (COP10) to the United Nations Convention to Combat desertification (UNCCD) wish to thank the Korean authorities responsible for the coordination of this Conference, the Secretariat of the Convention and in particular, the Korean CSOs network for their efforts and support, together with other organizations which have made this Conference possible.

2.      Participating CSOs highlight the urgency of dealing with desertification. Recent studies indicate that dry lands not only take 41.3% of total land surface but are also home to 2.1 billion people; that is one in every three people worldwide. Moreover, one in every three crops under cultivation today has its origin in the dry lands. Dry lands also support 50% of the world’s livestock, serve as rich wildlife habitats and account for nearly half of all cultivated systems.

3.      Over the years, CSOs have carried out intensive natural resources management activities for enhancement of livelihoods for the rural poor, women empowerment and awareness raising.

4.      We are concerned about the low action on implementing and operationalizing the UNCCD at grassroots level and urge that all Parties be more focused on giving DLDD the priority that it deserves and develop concrete activities to alleviate the sufferings of communities affected by desertification and drought.  Relating to drought, we call for an establishment of emergency mechanisms to deal with disasters caused by this phenomenon.

5.      Gender mainstreaming is the current international approach to advancing gender equality and equity in society. We strongly believe that at the level of national government, they should involve incorporating a gender perspective into all policies, plans, programmes and projects to ensure that these impact on women, men and youth in an equitable way. Continue reading “DECLARATION BY CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS”

NGOs : civil society organisations that the U.N. and other intergovernmental organisations can operationalise (IPS)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

NGOs Political Outcasts at High-Level U.N. Meetings

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Sep. 12, 2011 (IPS) – A former U.N. secretary-general was once quoted as having described non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as the world’s “third superpower”.

But come September, the thousands of NGOs armed with U.N. credentials will be barred from the United Nations, specifically when world leaders arrive to address the General Assembly sessions.

The annual ritual where civil society is treated as political and social outcasts has always triggered strong protests. The United Nations justifies the restriction primarily for “security reasons”.

The 10-day ban on NGOs will begin Sep. 20, the day before U.S. President Barack Obama’s address to the General Assembly, which will be followed by speeches from more than 100 world leaders.

This year, however, the ban has generated more protests because most NGOs have been shut out of three key “high-level meetings” scheduled for next week – on desertification and poverty eradication; on racism and xenophobia; and on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases – plus a nuclear security summit.

As a compromise, the United Nations has selectively picked some NGOs which will be permitted into the U.N. building only with special “access cards”, besides their regular NGO passes.

John Burroughs, executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, told IPS, “It is counterproductive to U.N. purposes for it to be difficult or impossible for civil society representatives to attend events during the General Assembly debate.”

He pointed out that the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Department of Public Information (DPI), and other U.N. bodies rightly emphasise the importance of non-governmental participation and monitoring, in part simply to help get information out to the concerned public about what is happening inside the United Nations.

“The September ban or near-ban on NGOs is in glaring contradiction with this policy,” Burroughs said.

Stressing the role of NGOs in raising global awareness of climate change, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told delegates back in 2007 that the United Nations relies on its partnership with the NGO community “in virtually everything the world body does”.

“Whether it is peace-building in sub-Saharan Africa or human rights in Latin America, disaster assistance in the Caribbean or de-mining efforts in the Middle East, the United Nations depends upon the advocacy skills, creative resources and grassroots reach of civil society organisations in all our work,” she said, paying a glowing tribute to the work done by NGOs.

But there continues to be a yawning gap between rhetoric and policy.



NGOs: make markets work for the poor or harm local businesses (IIED)

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NGOs: friend or foe to markets for the poor?

Submitted by Sian Lewis on Wed, 06/04/2011 – 11:25

Nongovernmental organisations can play a key role in facilitating efforts to make markets work for the poor but they do not always reach the most vulnerable groups and can sometimes harm local businesses.

The latest ‘provocation’ seminar from IIED and Hivos, held in Paris last week (30 March), began by asking who are the contents and discontents of development approaches to make markets work for the poor.

According to one businessman at least it seems that nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) can foster both, particularly within the private sector.

“Opinions amongst private businesses are not all favourable to actions of NGOs,” said Harm van Oudenhoven, coordinator of the Tropical Commodity Coalition and former head of a small chocolate company in Nicaragua.

Speaking at the seminar, which was hosted by the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and the Institut de Recherches et d’Applications des Méthodes de développement (IRAM), van Oudenhoven said that international NGOs often have their own agenda, and are more interested in showing results that curry favour in their own countries — “we are helping poor farmers” — than in making a broader impact in alleviating poverty in the local economy.

NGOs: bad for business Continue reading “NGOs: make markets work for the poor or harm local businesses (IIED)”

Farmers United Against Poverty (NGO News Africa)

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UGANDA: Farmers United Against Poverty

Farmers in the war-affected Lango sub region of northern Uganda
suffered a period of chronic terror and poverty.
Huge population movements and high level of insecurity affected normal
agricultural production and set the region years back in terms of
economic development. ACTED in Uganda is targeting smallholder farmers
for assistance to improve farming practices and increase incomes.
The approach taken is to create a space within each farmer can
mobilize its own resources and skills, rather than top down training
or handouts. The key structure for this approach is the farmer field
school, 40 of which are being supported in two sub counties of Oyam
District. Each farmer field school has a unique set of experiences,
members and skills, meaning the project activities have varied to
reflect their interests. Continue reading “Farmers United Against Poverty (NGO News Africa)”

Nigeria: Women Environmental Programme (NGO) and the Green Wall (Google / allAfrica / Daily Trust)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

Nigeria: WEP Wants Green Wall Sahara Programme

An NGO, Women Environmental Programme (WEP), on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to speed up the implementation of the Green Wall Sahara (GWSP) Programme.

The Executive Director of WEP, Mrs. Priscilla Achakpa, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

GWSP is an African initiative, aimed at combating desertification in the arid north of Nigeria.

Achakpa applauded the programme as an integrated development strategy for combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought and climate change.

She observed that desert encroachment and desertification were assuming a frightening proportion and that the impact raised security concerns, especially among the vulnerable groups.

According to her, the impact of climate change is more on women in the rural areas as they have little or no understanding of the issues involved.

To this end, she said WEP would conduct a study on gender awareness of climate change issues.

‘Women are most at risk because they have to work hard to earn a living,” she said, and stressed that adequate information on climate change was necessary to evolve steps to control it.


Volunteers Help Turkana’s Nomads Grapple With Drought and Illness (Humanitarian News / Merlin-USA / Reuters / Alert News)

Read at : Humanitarian News

Volunteers Help Turkana’s Nomads Grapple With Drought and Illness

11 Nov 2009 20:06:00 GMT

Alex Cottin, Regional Director, Merlin USA
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author’s alone.

Alex Cottin, Regional Director for Merlin USA visited health programs aiding nomadic communities of northwestern Kenya. Along the way, he met dedicated health staff and volunteers who are trying to keep families healthy as they endure the extended crisis. He sent blog posts chronicling those he met and how they are transforming lives and improving the odds for survival for so many.

Despite the sheer grandeur and beauty of Lake Turkana this is not, by any means, a promising place for health. Last July, a food security assessment identified Kenya’s northern pastoral areas at most risk of falling into humanitarian emergency. The prolonged drought has forced as many as 50,000 pastoralist families to move their animals and change their migration patterns in search of water and pasture. To put things into perspective, now people here often have to walk over 20 miles to search for water. A visit to this region reveals that children are at greatest risk in this humanitarian emergency. Food shortages are causing high levels of malnutrition. The World Health Organization considers anything above a 15 percent malnutrition rate to be an emergency. Continue reading “Volunteers Help Turkana’s Nomads Grapple With Drought and Illness (Humanitarian News / Merlin-USA / Reuters / Alert News)”

Kenya : The drilling for oil begins in two weeks (AfricaFiles)

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Title: Drilling for oil begins
Author: Mwaniki Wahome
Category: Kenya
Date: 10/12/2009
Source: The Nation
Source Website: <>

African Charter Article# 21: All peoples shall freely dispose of their wealth and natural resources for their exclusive interest, eliminating all forms of foreign economic exploitation.

Summary & Comment: The government has signed 18 oil production-sharing contracts in the last 18 months. The China National Offshore Oil Corporation will drill for oil near Isiolo and arrange for the equipment to sink the well. An Australian company, sank Sh5 billion into a well off the Lamu coast that bore no fruit. The minister says government will see that the communities where oil will be discovered benefit. DN

Kenya begins drilling for oil in two weeks

Kenya‚s search for oil will intensify with the drilling of oil at Boghal near Isiolo in the next two weeks. Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi said the government had signed 18 oil production sharing contracts in the last 18 months noting that they were at various stages of exploration. Speaking during the opening of the second South-South meeting on gas and oil management at Windsor Golf and Country Club in Nairobi, the minister said exploration had been stepped up in recent years. He said there were high hopes that the country could strike oil soon.

„For many years, Kenya has been part of the neglected East African exploration frontier. However, in the last five years, we have intensified the search for oil and gas in all our sedimentary basins,‰ said Mr Murungi. He said China National Offshore Oil Corporation, which will undertake the drilling, was mobilising the equipment for sinking the well. The minister said the well would be five kilometres deep and is estimated to cost the company $26 million (Sh2 billion). This is the second major attempt at finding oil in recent years after an Australian company, Woodside Energy sank Sh5 billion into the three-kilometre deep well off the Lamu coast that bore no fruit.

„This will be the deepest well ever drilled in Kenya. With the discoveries in Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania, we believe Kenya is now standing at the door. It is only a matter of time,‰ said Mr Murungi. He said there was need to sharpen negotiation skills to manage the anticipated oil revenue to benefit the people, noting that the country would learn from the ongoing conference. Mr Murungi, however, warned that increased agitation by non-governmental organisations could slow down efforts at exploiting the country‚s oil potential. He said some associated oil exploration with dictatorship, imperialism, exploitation, neglect of agriculture, marginalisation and civil strife on the continent. The minister said Kenya would strive to benefit the communities residing where oil will be discovered to alleviate poverty. Continue reading “Kenya : The drilling for oil begins in two weeks (AfricaFiles)”

Small-scale farming and gardening to alleviate malnutrition, hunger and poverty (Willem Van Cotthem)

As the representative of the Belgian experts on desertification, I had the privilege and honour of being a member of the Belgian delegation at all the meetings of the INCD (Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Desertification) and the Conferences of the Parties of the UNCCD between 1992 and 2006.  I am still a proud member of the CST (Committee on Science and Technology), and, as a co-chair of the Adhoc Panel for the Creation of the CRIC (Committee on the Review of the Implementation of the Convention), I have contributed to the improvement and enhancement of the input of scientific experts in the actions and initiatives of the UNCCD. I am also proud to be one of the fathers of the European DesertNet.

Today, I feel happy about the growing importance of the CST.

During the INCD-meetings (1992-1994) and at the COPs (Conferences of the Parties) in 1994-2006 I had many opportunities of collaborating with colleagues-scientists and representatives of NGOs from all over the world at the formulation of proposals for concrete actions to combat desertification and to alleviate poverty.

My personal main suggestion for successful interventions in developing countries, numerous times illustrated with a poster stand at the COPs, has always been and still is the need for small-scale farming or the creation of family gardens as the best option to halt desertification, to avoid malnutrition of the children, to alleviate hunger and poverty and to create sustainable development for the poorest people.  Our successes booked at many development projects in Africa, Asia and South America delivered sufficient proof for this view.

Today again, my most sincere wishes are one step away of coming true.  Indeed :

1. The European Union has recognized that one of the best ways to make sure people have access to food is to help small farmers increase production

(see my former postings on this subject)

2. WFP schemes helping mostly female small-scale farmers grow food more efficiently in Bolivia, Guatemala, Senegal, Nepal and the Philippines will receive the additional spending from the EU’s €1 billion Food Facility fund. That way, they can feed their families and increase availability of  food on their local markets.

Again today, I read with great interest that

1. Washington is committed to boost sustainable agricultural development in the world’s poorer countries as a way to root out global hunger and poverty.

2. There is a shift in emphasis – from dependence on food aid to greater investment in agriculture as a key to eradicating poverty”.

3. “We have spent too many dollars and too many decades on efforts that have not delivered the desired long-term results”.

4. “Investing in agriculture – and in particular smallholder agriculture – is indeed the most cost-effective way of reducing poverty, saving and improving lives”.

5. Rome-based IFAD works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes, and determine the direction of their own lives.


After all, UNICEF ALGERIA’s project to create a small garden for every family in the refugee camps in S.W. Algeria is one of the best illustrations of the enormous potentialities of this “new” strategy.  Therefore, my sincere thanks go to all those who confirm at this very day that small-scale farming is the best way out of malnutrition, hunger, famine and poverty.  Successes booked in the near future with demonstration projects, combining traditional knowledge of the local people with modern technologies, should be the platform on which a global action programme for family gardens, school gardens and hospital gardens in rural and urban areas has to be launched.

You may know already my device : “Don’t bring food to that man, teach him how to grow it”.


Why aid to Africa must stop (AfricaFiles / National Post)


Title:  Why aid to Africa must stop
Interview with Dambisa Moyo Adrian Humphreys
Author:  Interview: Dambisa Moyo Adrian Humphreys
Category:  Economic Justice
Date:  5/30/2009
Source:  National Post
Source Website: <;

African Charter Article# 20: All peoples shall have the right to existence and self determination and the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination.

Summary & Comment:  “All I am saying is that NGO interventions are not meeting the fundamental problems in Africa… I understand NGOs are very interested in keeping the status quo because that is where their jobs are… The fundamental problem with the aid model is that there are no jobs being created for Africans. It is a band-aid solution,” the author says. DN

Why aid to Africa must stop:
– Interview with Dambisa Moyo Adrian Humphreys

Angola : NGOs sceptical of government’s rural development plans (AfricaFiles)


Title:  NGOs sceptical of government’s rural development plans
Author:  Louise Redvers, Luanda
Category:  Angola
Date:  6/6/2009
Source:  Inter Press Service
Source Website: <>

African Charter Article# 24: All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favorable to their development.

Summary & Comment:  Diversifying the economy into labour-intensive areas like agriculture is key for Angola’s long-term development. However government’s top-down approach to rural poverty, makes NGOs like ADRA wish the community could be more involved in the planning, control, preparation, and vocational training of the initiatives that are coming mainly from outside investment. JK

NGOs sceptical of government’s rural development plans

In an attempt to reduce rural poverty, Angola’s government plans to diversify its oil-focused economy by trying to restore the country’s once-booming agricultural sector. Angola was once a breadbasket of southern Africa and a major exporter of bananas, coffee and sisal, but three decades of civil war destroyed the fertile countryside, leaving it littered with landmines and driving millions into the cities. The country now depends on expensive food imports, mainly from South Africa and Portugal, while more than 90 percent of farming is done at family and subsistence level.

Seven years into peace, Angola wants to reduce this dependence on food imports and encourage people to move back to the rural areas. To achieve this, government has launched a major stimulus plan to improve farming opportunities and increase services outside of major towns and cities. The plan is also aimed at reducing overcrowding urban areas – particularly the country’s capital Luanda which was designed by the Portuguese for 800,000 people but is now home to over five million. Currently, oil is Angola’s main money-spinner, accounting for 83 percent of national income. Revenue has taken a huge dip over the past twelve months, however, with brent crude prices falling by more 100 Dollars.

“Dependence on just one or two products, like oil and diamonds, makes the economy extremely vulnerable to the forces of international markets and has an impact on the long-term development of a country,” explained Ricardo Gazel, senior World Bank economist in Angola. “Diversifying the economy into labour-intensive areas like agriculture is key for Angola’s long-term development,” he added. The Angolan government has been thinking along similar lines. Its Integrated Rural Development Plan aims to improve roads, schools, health services, access to micro-credit for farming cooperatives, training programmes, and building new homes. Continue reading “Angola : NGOs sceptical of government’s rural development plans (AfricaFiles)”

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