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NGOs:

Dr. Vanaja Ramprasad of the Third World Network, on behalf of Asian NGOs, presented a paper aimed at demonstrating the risk of desertification in highly productive land. She pointed out that in 1987-88, Kerala, a state in India, with an average rainfall of 3200mm annually, was drought prone and the amount of rainfall fell drastically. She said that flooding and drought had resulted from deforestation, damming of rivers, salinization and irrigation activities in the region. She further explained that the Green Revolution is a key factor in this process. India's choice of Structural Adjustment Programmes and free trade are causing changes in land use patterns in the region. The introduction of hybrid seeds, and export-led mono-crops that provide little or no ground cover have replaced large varieties of indigenous crops suitable for the region. She mentioned that the intellectual property rights and patenting of life forms would accelerate the loss of biodiversity.

Juan Palao Iturregui of the Consejo Andino de Manejo Ecol´┐Żgico spoke on behalf of Latin American NGOs. He summarized how changing economic and land management policies in Peru have diminished the productive potential of the land and the people. He cited how programmes aimed at increasing production of rice and sugar for export failed due to the high production costs and competition from other countries like Malaysia and Thailand. These programmes also led to desertification of the Peruvian coast. He explained how NGOs have joined efforts in the region to find joint approaches and strategies to implement grassroots projects that are aimed at sustainable crop production.

Mamadou Lamine Thiam of FAVDO spoke on behalf of African NGOs. His presentation focused on a case study aimed at combatting desertification in Senegal. He provided the historical background, explaining how colonial and, after independence, national agriculture policies favored cash crops. This led to land degradation, reduction in grazing lands, reduction in water holes, climate change, and drought. To combat desertification, NGOs have worked on a number of projects including reforestation and soil conservation. He spoke about a project of the African Network for Integrated Development that distributed saplings to local people and thus encouraged people to find solutions to land degradation in their communities.

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