UNESCO WATER PORTAL WEEKLY
UPDATE No. 98: DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT IN CELEBRATION OF WORLD DAY TO
COMBAT DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT
17 June 2005
2005¨C2015 is the International Decade For Action
¡®Water for Life¡¯
The UNESCO Water Portal Weekly Update archives
(starting at issue N¡ã 85) are available online at: http://www.unesco.org/water/news/newsletter/
Visit the UNESCO Water Portal at:
NEWS | EVENTS | DID YOU KNOW¡? | PUBLICATIONS | LINKS
- 17 June:
World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought focuses on women
of the 38th Session of the IHP Bureau
- International Conference on Remote Sensing and
Geoinformation Processing in the Assessment and Monitoring of Land
Degradation and Desertification
- 19th International Congress on Irrigation and
- Regional Workshop on ¡®Scientific Research and
National Plans of Action for Combating desertification¡¯
- International Symposium on Management System for
Disaster Prevention (ISMD 2006)
- 14th Conference of the International Soil
Conservation Organisation (ISCO)
- Did you know...? Facts about desertification and
- Publications related to desertification and drought
- Links related to desertification and drought
June: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought focuses on women
17 June, the world celebrates World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.
The Day marks the anniversary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCDD), which plays a key role in the world's fight against desertification
and drought, both of which contribute to poverty, famine and the destruction of
ecosystems. This year's Day is particularly important in terms of
awareness-raising, as it sets the way for 2006, which has been proclaimed the
International Year of Deserts and Desertification.
The theme for this year's Day is 'Women and Desertification'. The theme
highlights the important role that women play in the process of combating
desertification. The responsibilities of land-tending and selling produce
traditionally fall to women, but they often lack the status or power to bring
about real change. They are the most affected by drought, yet the least empowered
to do anything about it. However, the situation is slowly improving: in many
countries, women are now gaining access to land ownership and are involved in
decision-making. The 2005 Day is the opportunity to raise awareness at the
local, international and regional levels of the role of women in combating
drought and desertification, which, with climate change and the desiccation of
ecosystems, is becoming more and more prevalent. It is also the opportunity to
implement programmes and actions help equalize the gender divide in drought and
:: Find out more at the official web site for the Day: http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/june17/2005/menu.php?newch=l1
of the 38th Session of the IHP Bureau
IHP Bureau, at its 38th session (Paris, 6-8 June), was informed of
the continuation of water as among the priority programmes at UNESCO for
2006-2007. The Bureau addressed the issues related to the governance of IHP. It
also examined a draft strategy for the joint and synergic action of the UNESCO
water centers, endorsed the revised concept paper on the seventh phase of IHP (IHP-VII, 2008-2013), and supported the implementation of new IHP initiatives,
particularly the International Sediment Initiative (ISI) and the International
Flood Initiative (IFI).
The final report of the 38th session of the IHP Bureau is available
format ¨C 72.6 KB]
More information: http://webworld.unesco.org/water/ihp/bureau/38th/conclusions/
International Conference on Remote Sensing and
Geoinformation Processing in the Assessment and Monitoring of Land Degradation
7-9 September 2005, Trier, Germany
Organizer: University of Trier (Germany)
This conference aims to promote scientific exchange
between specialists working on the interface of remote sensing, geoinformation
processing, desertification/land degradation research and its socio-economic
implications. An overview of the current state of the art as well as
operational opportunities will be presented, both of which are especially
important for initiating a transfer of expertise from the scientific community
to people interested in applying these techniques.
19th International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage
10-18 September 2005, Beijing, China
Organizer: Chinese National Committee on Irrigation
The theme of the 19th ICID Congress in Beijing is ¡®Use
of Water and Land for Food and Environmental Sustainability¡¯. The themes to be
addressed are as follows:
- improving water and land management for
increasing efficiency in irrigated agriculture
- harmonious coexistence with flood water
- legal and institutional challenges
- water quality/salinity management.
The purpose of the congress is to study recent
developments and present new expectations from such developments, especially in
light of continuous population growth and the growing environmental concern
that comes with it. The congress also provides a platform for reviewing a
number of contentious issues concerning the future of irrigation water, which
is under increased demands due to competitive uses of water.
Regional Workshop on ¡®Scientific Research and National
Plans of Action for Combating Desertification¡¯
22-24 November 2005, Khartoum, Republic of Sudan
Organizers: UNESCO Chair of desertification studies,
This workshop will review, discuss and analyze the research
strategies and methodologies used by different countries, and the overall
national research plans of action adopted by these countries.
The workshop will:
- review, discuss and exchange experiences and
learn from the National Action Research Programs and actual experimental
research work undertaken in desertification studies presented by the
- identify common areas of research on
desertification between two or more countries (subregional projects) for
future formulation and implementation
- formulate subregional projects on desertification
between two or more countries
- establish a desertification research network
between the relevant institutions in the participating countries
- establish a viable organizational structure,
administration, finance and policies for the network.
International Symposium on Management System for
Disaster Prevention (ISMD 2006)
9-11 March 2006, Kochi, Japan
Organizer: Centre of Excellence for Social Management
System, Kochi University of Technology, Japan
The symposium strives to review disaster prevention
systems for better effectiveness and efficiency. Discussion will focus on how
to research and investigate causes of disaster, how to design and operate
software and hardware infrastructures, and how to build prevention systems.
Disaster prevention as a system will also be discussed from a management point
The topics of this symposium will include:
- management systems for disaster prevention
- assessment and management of risk and
- software and hardware countermeasures for
- research and investigation on causes of disaster.
14th Conference of the International Soil Conservation
14-19 May 2006, Marrakech, Morocco
Organizers: International Soil Conservation
This conference will be a common forum for experts in
various disciplines related to sustainable management of soil and water,
particularly in semi-arid environments.
¡®The sustainable management of soil and water in
semi-arid environment,¡¯ the conference¡¯s topic, engenders many challenges in
terms of sustainable management of natural resources for the planet and
adequate food production for a perpetual growing population. Some of the topics
of this conference will include:
- water management in a semi-arid environment
- indicators, measurements and modelling of the
various erosion processes in semi-arid environments
- economic evaluation of land degradation,
efficiency and cost of anti-erosive structures
- environmental effects of soil degradation
- institutional, legislative and socio-economic
aspects of soil and water conservation.
DID YOU KNOW...? FACTS ABOUT
DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT
- Droughts have been categorized in three ways: as
meteorological (due to a lack of precipitation), hydrological (lack of
water in streams and aquifers) or agricultural (when conditions are unable
to sustain agricultural and livestock production). The concept of what
constitutes a drought varies from country to country. In England, three
weeks without rain is considered a problem; in many parts of the world
much longer dry periods are normal.
- Droughts are undoubtedly the most far-reaching of
all natural disasters. From 1991 to 2000 alone, drought has been
responsible for over 280,000 deaths and has cost tens of millions of US
dollars in damage.
- Desertification, of course, did not begin with
the recent droughts. Archaeological records suggest that Africa's arid
areas have been getting progressively drier over the past 5,000 years.
What is new is the coincidence of drought with the increasing pressures
put on fragile arid and semi-arid lands by mounting numbers of people and
- An FAO/UNEP assessment of land degradation in
Africa suggests that large areas of countries north of the equator suffer
from serious desertification problems. For example, the desert is said to
be expanding at an annual rate of 5 km in the semi-arid areas of West
- A recent study estimated that desertification
processes affect 46% of Africa and that 55% of that area is at high or
very high risk. The worst affected areas are along desert margins, and in
total about 485 million people are affected.
- Durations and extents of droughts vary greatly.
Examples of severe, persistent droughts over large geographical areas
include those in the Sahel, covering 7.3 million km2, from 1970
to 1988; continental Europe covering 9 million km2, from 1988
to 1992; and India covering 3 million km2, from 1965 to 1967.
- The Zimbabwe drought of the early 1990s was
associated with an 11% decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a 60%
decline in the stock market; more recent floods in Mozambique led to a 23%
reduction in GDP, while the 2000 drought in Brazil led to a halving of projected
economic growth. Even in developed countries, an extreme drought may cause
considerable disturbances in terms of environmental, economic and social
losses. The 1988 drought in the United States may have caused direct
agricultural losses totalling US$13 billion.
Information from World Water Development Report 'Water
for People, Water for Life' (http://www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/table_contents.shtml),
GEO: Global Environment Outlook 3 Past, present and future perspectives ¡®Land
FAO Corporate Document Repository: ¡®Land and environmental degradation and desertification
in Africa¡¯ (http://www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/docrep/X5318E/x5318e02.htm).
PUBLICATIONS RELATED TO DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT
Coping with Water Scarcity (Technical Documents in Hydrology Series, N¡ã 58)
By Luis S. Pereira, Ian Cordery and Iacovos Iacovides.
© UNESCO 2002
Water scarcity is among the main problems to be faced
by many societies and the World in the 21st century. Water scarcity causes
enormous problems for populations and societies. The available water is not
sufficient for the production of food and for alleviating hunger and poverty in
these regions, where quite often the population growth is larger than the capability
for sustainable use of the natural resources.
This book intends to serve as a guide establishing
regional or local guidelines oriented to help develop and implement new
conceptual and managerial ideas that may assist in coping with water scarcity. The
basic idea behind the book is that water scarcity will continue to exist and,
for many regions, will unfortunately continue to grow. Human and societal
skills will need to be developed to cope with water scarcity and to assist the
local people to live in harmony with their environmental constraints,
particularly those concerning water resources. This guideline does not produce
an exhaustive review on every aspect covered but attempts to provide basic
information to promote coherent and holistic views on the problems by
decision-makers, water managers, engineers, agronomists, economists, social
scientists and other professionals. To help assist those who may need more
detail, oriented but less than comprehensive bibliographies are given.
:: Access the full publication:
[PDF format - 2.24 MB]
Education Kit on Combating Desertification
By Thomas Schaaf (UNESCO) and Rajeb Boulharouf (UNCCD)
(Publication co-ordinators). © UNESCO 2001
Combating desertification both preserves the natural
heritage of the world¡¯s drylands and contributes to the eradication of poverty,
so that the development of today¡¯s world does not harm future generations.
This education kit comprises a teacher¡¯s guide, a
series of case studies, an illustrated children¡¯s book and a poster. This kit
is principally aimed at teachers and pupils at the end of primary school and
the beginning of secondary school in countries affected by desertification. It
has been conceived to enhance the school programme. Teachers can easily
incorporate elements of the kit into existing lesson plans.
:: Access the full publication: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001258/125816e.pdf
[PDF format - 22 MB]
LINKS RELATED TO DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT
Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat
The United Nations Secretariat of the Convention to
Combat Desertification (UNCCD) entered into force on December 26, 1996. It was
established by the United Nations General Assembly to assist the
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INCD) in the negotiation of the
Convention and the preparation for the sessions of the Conference of the
Official documents, action programmes, meetings,
publications are available in this website.
FAO section dedicated to Desertification
The FAO website on desertification aims to assist
national, regional and international stakeholders and networks involved in
sustainable development of drylands and, in particular, the implementation of
The website contains technical and scientific data and
information, available at FAO, as well as links to a number of highly
informative websites on desertification.
Drylands Development Centre
The United Nations Development Programme¡¯s (UNDP)
Drylands Development Centre specializes in helping countries to fight poverty
and encourage development in the drier parts of the world. The Centre, located
in Nairobi, Kenya, is one of the three UNDP Thematic Centres around the world.
This website has information about drylands policy,
publications, related links, news and events.
Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS)
This independent international organization based in
Tunisia strives to build up an African arena for cooperation and exchange to
combat desertification and poverty by working with UNESCO Member States and
organizations and strengthening their actions.
Information about their programmes and a virtual
library are available on this webpage.
Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in
the Sahel - CILSS
This committee was created after the disastrous
drought beginning in 1959 in the West Africa Sahel Region. Its mandate concerns
food security and the fight against the consequences of droughts and
Information about the characteristics of the Sahel,
work areas, publications and news are included in this website.
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