Water Information of The World




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/


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  • 17 June: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought focuses on women
  • Conclusions 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 Drainage
  • 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 drought
  • Publications related to desertification and drought
  • Links related to desertification and drought





17 June: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought focuses on women


This 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 desertification.
:: Find out more at the official web site for the Day: http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/june17/2005/menu.php?newch=l1


Conclusions of the 38th Session of the IHP Bureau


The 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 online: http://www.unesco.org/water/ihp/bureau/38th/3.pdf

[PDF 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 and Desertification

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 and Drainage



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, Sudan



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 participating countries
  • 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 of view.

The topics of this symposium will include:

  • management systems for disaster prevention
  • assessment and management of risk and infrastructure management
  • software and hardware countermeasures for disaster prevention
  • research and investigation on causes of disaster.


14th Conference of the International Soil Conservation Organisation (ISCO)

14-19 May 2006, Marrakech, Morocco

Organizers: International Soil Conservation Organisation (ISCO)



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
  • desertification
  • 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.





  • 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 livestock.
  • 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 Africa.
  • 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 degradation¡¯ (http://www.unep.org/geo/geo3/english/149.htm), 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).





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:

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001278/127846e.pdf [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]





Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)


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 Parties (COP).

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 UNCCD.

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 desertification.

Information about the characteristics of the Sahel, work areas, publications and news are included in this website.




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