Celebrated on 17 June annually, World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought aims to raise awareness about the ever-increasing threat of desertification and drought, its impact on the planet and what this means for humanity at large. The day was officially proclaimed an official international awareness day by the United Nations General Assembly in 1995. World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2021 will focus on turning degraded land into healthy land and the positive spin-offs this creates in terms of job creation, increased incomes and food security.
In its simplest form, desertification refers to the ongoing breakdown of land in areas considered particularly dry; it does not refer to the expansion of deserts. Dry ecosystems are fragile environments and sometimes the most susceptible to change, as they are often exploited and the land is used incorrectly. Overgrazing, deforestation and bad irrigation all contribute to desertification and together with the impact of climate change give rise to increased poverty, political instability and ultimately affect food security.
While Covid-19 remains one of humanity’s greatest challenges to date, climate change continues unabated, affecting the most vulnerable communities, the bulk of whom live in Africa. For the past decade, numerous nations across the continent have experienced persistent drought as a result of climate change, displacing millions of people and leading to increased hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
In 2017, Karamoja in Uganda was in the throes of the worst drought experienced in living memory, with many regional governments unable to deal with the crisis. Innovation: Africa constructed and installed six boreholes, providing more than 15 000 people with access to clean water in Karamoja. This had a life-changing impact on these communities as not only did they now have access to clean usable water, but were also able to grow crops for the first time, helping to save future generations from a similar fate.
To date Innovation: Africa has worked across 5 000 villages in 10 African countries, impacting the lives of nearly three million people. It costs less than $10 to provide an individual with lifetime access to clean, safe and usable water.
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