World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

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2024 Date17 June 2024
2025 Date17 June 2025

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

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World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is an international observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of the dangers of desertification, land degradation, and the effects of drought. This global event aims to foster a more significant understanding of the need for cooperation and strengthened partnerships to protect drylands and water-scarce areas worldwide. One of the key aspects of this observance is highlighting the importance of sustainable land management practices and promoting viable solutions for long-term ecological stability and socio-economic development.

The United Nations General Assembly established the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought in 1994, in response to the widespread impact of droughts and their devastating effects on people and ecosystems. South Africa, as a semi-arid country, is severely affected by land degradation and drought - consequences of erratic weather patterns and improper land resource management. As a result, South Africans directly experience the ripple effects of desertification through food and water scarcity, decreased agricultural productivity, and threats to biodiversity. The observance seeks to raise awareness among South Africans about the role each individual can play in mitigating these challenges and safeguarding our ecosystems.

To celebrate World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, various events and activities are organized to emphasize land conservation and sustainable management practices. Activities may include tree planting drives to combat soil erosion, expert panel discussions on best land management practices, educational workshops, and awareness drives aimed at encouraging individual participation, and promoting innovative solutions to address these pressing environmental concerns. The observance serves as a reminder to every South African of the critical role we play in combating desertification and alleviating the adverse effects of drought that threaten our land, livelihoods, and future generations. The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed in June 17th every year.

Facts about World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

  • It is estimated that land degradation and desertification contribute to about 10-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • It is estimated that the global annual cost of land degradation due to desertification is around $42 billion, including the loss of agricultural productivity and ecosystem services.
  • Approximately 3.2 billion people, or about 40% of the global population, are affected by land degradation and desertification.
  • Almost 50% of South Africa's surface area is susceptible to desertification, with significant areas at risk in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape, and the Free State.
  • The Western Cape, which is home to Cape Town, experienced a severe drought from 2015 to 2018 that led to a water crisis in the region. This drought was considered one of the worst in over 100 years.

Top things to do in South Africa for this observance

  • Learn about the UN's great green wall initiative. Once finished, it will become the largest living structure on the planet.
  • Watch several short films on desertification and drought.
  • Watch a documentary to learn more about desertification in South Africa. Here are our suggestions:
    1. The End of the Line – A Slow Walk to Nowhere (2015)- This documentary explores how climate change and desertification are impacting rural communities in South Africa. It focuses particularly on the Eastern Cape province, where the effects of these environmental issues are especially severe.
    2. Breaking Point: The Disappearing Taps of the Western Cape (2017)- This documentary by Al Jazeera investigates the water scarcity crisis in the Western Cape province of South Africa, particularly during the 2017-2018 drought.
    3. Cape Town's Water Crisis: The New Normal (2018)- This short documentary, produced by the City of Cape Town, highlights the severe drought that plagued the South African city in 2017 and 2018 and the various measures taken to address it.
  • Read a book to learn more about desertification in South Africa. Here are our suggestions:
    1. Desertification and Drought in Southern Africa by H. A. Eglington
    2. Climate Change and Water Resources in Southern Africa by K. Schulze
    3. Water Policy and Governance in South Africa by G. Harris and M. Muller

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