Desertification and Drought Day

Desertification and Drought Day

News: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought was observed on 17th June.

Background:
• The theme for this year is “Her Land. Her Rights” which focuses on women’s land rights, essential for achieving the interconnected global goals of gender equality and land degradation neutrality by 2030.

What were the issues addressed?
• Women's control over land is important but they lack rights and face barriers worldwide. This limits their well-being and prosperity, especially when land degradation and water scarcity occur.
• Desertification, land degradation and drought disproportionately impact women and girls, as they often do not have access to and control of land resources. They are most affected by reduced agricultural yields and increased water scarcity.
• In most countries, women have unequal and limited access and control to land. In many regions, they remain subject to discriminatory laws and practices that impede their right to inherit, as well as their access to services and resources.

What is Desertification?
• Desertification is the process by which fertile land becomes desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture. It is caused by variations in climate and by unsustainable land-management practices in dryland environments.
• Some of the factors responsible for Desertification are Population growth, Deforestation, Overgrazing, Unsustainable farming practices (mono-cropping, excessive tillage), urbanization and climate change.

What are the impacts of Desertification?
• Reduced crop yields and food production
• Increased water scarcity and pollution
• Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services - Desertification and land degradation can reduce the diversity and abundance of plants and animals in drylands. They can alter the structure and functioning of ecosystems, affecting their ability to provide essential services such as carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, soil formation, pollination, pest control, and climate regulation.
• Increased vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters
• Desertification can affect the livelihoods and income of millions of people who depend on drylands for agriculture, livestock, forestry, fisheries, tourism, and other activities.
• Desertification can worsen the poverty and inequality in drylands. They can force people to migrate to more fertile areas or urban centers in search of better opportunities or resources.

What are steps taken by Government to combat Desertification in India?

What are the Global initiatives?
• United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD): India is a party to this convention since 1996, and has submitted six national reports on its actions and achievements in combating desertification. India hosted the 14th session of Conference of Parties (COP 14) of UNCCD in 2019, where it committed to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
• The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.

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