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IFAD:

Dr. Gary Howe, Project Controller, Africa Division of IFAD, spoke about the need to involve resource conservation into the regular practices of poor farmers. Conservation activities do not take place unless they offer tangible benefits to farmers. While production must be based on the individual, the communal framework is important. The issue is not to encourage communal production, but to support the communal framework, as most of the land subject to desertification is some form of common property. The problem of desertification does not originate from the intrinsic weakness of common property regimes, but the fact that they have been weakened from the outside. He added that there is a need to include all groups who use resources, including women, the poor and marginalized ethnic groups. He concluded by listing several strategies for conservation: 1) anti-desertification activities must not be seen as isolated actions, but part of the agricultural effort as a whole; 2) activities must be principally engaged in helping farmers to identify their own problems and find solutions; 3) communities cannot manage lands if they do not have clear land rights; and 4) macro-economic policies must change.