[one_third][/one_third]As the world wakes up to increasing threats of desertification, the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) on June, 17, 2013 joined the world over to commemorate this year’s edition of the world day to combat desertification under the theme “drought and water scarcity” with accompanying slogan “don’t let our future dry up”.
ERuDeF used this day to launch its pioneer edition of the environmental newspaper called the Green Vision. Speaking during the launching, the CEO of ERuDeF Louis Nkembi, said desertification remains one of the biggest threats plaguing the environment. He quoted the example of Northern Cameroon which suffers the highest rate of dryness. According to Mr. Nkembi, desertification just like other environmental problems could be better handled if people are informed. “It is therefore not a coincidence that we chose this day to launch our environmental newspaper-The Green Vision. We decided to launch the Green Vision on this day, because we believe its presence on the newsstands in Cameroon would inform people on how to tackle desertification and other environmental problems” Mr. Nkembi hinted.
The theme of this year’s celebration is very timely, given that it comes at a time when water crisis is plaguing most parts of the world. Water is life! Unfortunately, research has shown that only small amounts of this water are available. According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), of all the water on earth, only 2.5 % is fresh water which is available for animals and humans. 70 % of the freshwater available globally is held in the soil and is accessible only to plants. According to the UNCCD each person needs at least 2,000 m3 of water per year for sustainable development. However, those in the dry lands have access only to 1300m3 which accounts for their high poverty levels. The prolonged droughts in the Horn of Africa (2011) and the Sahel (2012) resulted in humanitarian crisis, leaving millions hungry and malnourished, especially children.
Unlike earthquakes and other natural disasters, droughts and desertification are predictable and their effects can be mitigated, avoided and even reversed through the planting of trees.
In response to the threats of desertification, ERuDeF has been setting up strategies that seek to address drought preparedness and risk management, as opposed to disaster management. In this regard, through tree planting, the restoration of degraded landscapes in the Western highlands of Cameroon is being achieved. Since 2007, the emerging conservation organization has planted over 4 million agroforestry trees, Non Timber forest tree species and recently threatened trees within the landscape. All these are aimed at restoring the degraded landscapes while ensuring sustainable land management and soil improvement. Through this, a significant increase in income levels of the poor and rural people who depend solely on agriculture for livelihood in these areas have equally been recorded.
This year’s slogan, “Don’t let our future dry up” calls for everyone to take action to promote preparedness and resilience to water scarcity, desertification and drought. We are all responsible for water, land conservation and sustainable use. Land degradation does not have to threaten our future.
By Asa’a Lemawah