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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.