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Monday, 15 June 2015

Investing in soil during World Day to Combat Desertification

By Bob Aston
The World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) has been observed since 1995 on 17 June to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought. The focus this year is “attainment of food security for all through sustainable food systems.” With the slogan, ‘No such thing as a free lunch. Invest in healthy soil’, the 2015 observance calls for countries to celebrate land by preserving and improving its fruitfulness.
2015 WDCD slogan
This year’s WDCD lays a lot of emphasis on issues that include: a change in land use practices through smart agriculture and adaptation to changing climate, especially in the dry fragile parts of the world where food shortages are becoming more and more severe; and access to technology and land rights for small holder farmers who safeguard the environment and meet the food needs of millions of households, especially among the poor.
Other issues include: a balance in the land use for ecology and consumption, drawing on the best practices; more investments in sustainable land practices so that sustainable food systems become the normal practice; and more effective action on desertification whose effects on security, peace and stability are invisible yet real for the affected countries due especially to food and water scarcity and environmentally forced migration.

WDCD is a unique occasion to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and co-operation at all levels.
According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), hunger is most prevalent in the developing countries dryland areas where water retention is poor, and the land is highly vulnerable to natural and human destructions.
UNCCD aims to sensitize the public to the fact that desertification, land degradation and drought dramatically affect the biodiversity resident in the soil. What people do to the soil determines the quality and quantity of the food they eat and how ecosystems serves them. The increasing ecological interdependence also means enhancing soils anywhere enhances life everywhere.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), healthy soils are the foundation for food, fuel, fibre and even medicine. FAO approximates that 33 percent of the global soil resources are degraded due to erosion, compaction, soil sealing, salinization, soil organic matter and nutrient depletion, acidification and pollution
This year’s event in Kenya will be celebrated at Yatta Sub County in Machakos County. The event will seek to promote increased investments in sustainable land management practices to ensure the establishment and maintenance of food systems.
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