SADC: Bataung Leleka, the Director of the Coordination Unit of the Southern Africa Development Community, spoke about the state of the southern African region. He elaborated on the relationship between people, resources and the environment. The region, with one of the fastest growing urban populations in the world, is suffering from increased pressure on rangelands due to needs for fuelwood, arable and grazing lands. Deforestation, soil loss, increased use of marginal lands, accelerated land degradation due to inappropriate agricultural practices and silting of rivers are visible consequences of population growth. To redress the situation, SADC is developing programmes that facilitate sharing of relevant information, establishing relationships with and strengthening local institutions. He concluded that desertification and land degradation has its roots mainly in socio-economic conditions rather than physical conditions.
A delegate from Botswana gave the example of a national programme to combat desertification. The formulation of the national programmes is done at two levels: at the local level, local authorities are encouraged to make an inventory of their resources and this forms the basis of the national plan; thereafter, districts develop their own plans that are then translated into different national programmes. He explained that in the rangeland monitoring inventory programmes, land tenure and land reform are tackled. He concluded that the major problem faced by the region is the lack of technology. In the discussion, Israel explained the need to preserve these transitional areas as they harbor biogenetic resources useful in the rehabilitation of damaged ecosystems.
IGADD: Maina Karaba, of the Inter-governmental Authority on Drought and Development, spoke on the region that covers Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Eritrea and Somalia. He said that what happens in the north also impacts on the region. He pointed out that the interventions so far had focused on the producers and failed to account for the activities of the consumers. He said that the resilience of the arid lands in the region evident after the rains suggests that the area can be productive with the proper input. The constraints to combatting desertification in the region include the lack of long-term recording periods to assist in drought predictions, a poor distribution of simple hydrological and climatic information, and the shortage of satellite receiving stations. He concluded that institutions such as the OSS and UNSO should be strengthened.
CILSS: Fatou Ba presented a paper based on the experience of the CILSS. She pointed out that the first response of the Sahel countries in tackling serious drought was to address the economic and social balance. CILSS has adopted a regional desertification control strategy that is based on the total commitment of the people. This strategy incorporates a redefinition of the role of national services, training and follow-up, and increased coordination between CILSS member countries. She explained that during the implementation of the programme some difficulties were experienced, including land tenure issues, decentralization and duplication of efforts. Thus, there needs to be integrated national policies and a review of the rules and regulations governing land resource management. CILSS has an environmental monitoring institute, an early warning system, and a population research institute that provide data and information useful in combatting desertification. She said that the success of the programme is due to: the possibility of finding common approaches; being within reach of the peasant community; its combination of economies of scale and experiences of different countries; and its replicability. She warned that the Convention would only be meaningful and effective if farmers found markets for their produce, terms of trade are improved, the drier arid and semi-arid areas are integrated into national economies, answers are found to land tenure problems and activities are better coordinated.
PATECORE: Dr. Helmut Whl, principal technical advisor for rural regional development at Germany's GTZ, discussed technical cooperation between Burkina Faso, CILSS and Germany in the Patecore Project. He described the high plateau ecosystem and the context within which desertification occurs. He outlined the experiences of two local NGO projects in improving local land use and noted both the problems faced and the solutions found. For example, there was a lack of coordination between the plan and the resource users, so a planning method was developed that adjusted to the farmers' abilities and knowledge of the surroundings. Lessons learned as a result of problems faced by NGOs included: control of man-made desertification must have a socio-economic emphasis; projects need integration for sustainable resource management at the community level; the capacity of resource users must be strengthened; there must be a short-term economic benefit; a framework for solving land tenure problems must be created; traditional knowledge must be incorporated in planning and implementation; country capacity building has to be intensified by ensuring availability of knowledge at all levels; and population-related aspects have to be included in the planning process.
UMA: Mustapha Tlili described the characteristics of the Arab Maghreb and highlighted a number of UMA programmes currently underway, including fixing dunes by planting trees, conducting campaigns to prevent landslides, and improving rangelands through seeding. The methodology used to implement these projects includes: incorporating the participation of the grassroots and the army; consolidating legislation to protect the environment; and developing programs to protect threatened areas. He stressed the need for regional cooperation and added that the Maghreb must realize its interdependence with Europe and the two regions must work together to combat desertification.
Kallala Abdessalem of the Tunisian Ministry of the Environment and Land Management highlighted characteristics of desertification in Tunisia. He mentioned that projects must be cost-effective or else they will not be acceptable to peasants. He said that desertification is an economic problem and there is a need to involve the people, including women, in combatting desertification. He concluded by pointing out that desertification should be seen as something to bring the North and South together.
World Bank: At the end of the day, the representative from the World Bank responded to a question asked earlier by Tanzania about the GEF. He said that he would distribute documentation about the criteria for the GEF on Thursday. He read part of a document on the operational phase of GEF being discussed at the GEF meeting in Beijing. He added that the GEF is currently undergoing restructuring and that some desertification projects have been considered under the biodiversity activity.
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