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Why Is Desertification Alarming? Facts About The Land Condition Affecting Millions of People Worldwide

Jun 17, 2016 06:25 AM EDT

Land, by all means, is a major resource asset as it provides a foundation for economic growth and for poverty reduction. As the world's population increases, land becomes increasingly valuable, which only means any form of land degradation is a threat to us all.

Desertification is one of the major problems adversely affecting the quality of the land. As defined by Green Facts, desertification is the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems by variations in climate and human activities.

To promote public awareness about the situation, June 17 is commemorated as the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.

As per United Nations, the global event was declared in December 1994 to recognize the need to combat desertification and drought.

For this year, the observance will have the theme "Inclusive cooperation for achieving Land Degradation Neutrality," and a slogan "Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People."

To better understand the issue, here are some basic facts about desertification.

How desertification occurs

Desertification is usually due to human activities and extreme weather conditions.

When trees and plants are removed from the soil (such as in grazing and intensive farming), the nutrients in the soil are also removed, causing it to be degraded. Without the nutrients, the land would be infertile and would turn into a desert--dry and arid.

How are we affected by desertification?

According to a report published by the International Fund For Agricultural Development, over 250 million people are directly affected by desertification and one billion people in over 100 countries are at risk.
Desertification results to the fall of world's drinking water supply. Every year, 12 million people die because of water shortage.

In addition to water, desertification affects livelihood. Since 1990, 6 million hectares of productive land are lost every year due to land degradation. This threatens the food security of the planet.

How can we minimize or prevent desertification?

Sustainable development will not be achieved if all lands are left unproductive, which is why people must do their share to save what's left of the land. Because desertification is caused by loss of vegetation, reforestation and tree generation is highly encouraged. Avoid cutting trees to make way for tall buildings. Moreover, protect the soil by fencing and enrich it by using animal manure.

Another way to reduce the impacts of desertification is by managing water usage properly.

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