Solemnly desertification is something that derails a lot of productivity as far as the Ecosystem is concerned. The biodiversity that is responsible for making the dry land useful is destroyed both in the soil and therefore the land is subjected to degradation.
Degraded Arid lands are mostly unbearable for farming activities as they face water scarcity to support plant/crop growth for both human and livestock consumption, which makes the human populations that reside in such areas exposed to repeated food crises and difficulties in meeting basic needs.
Long drought episodes lead to growth failure especially when they set in shortly after planting. They cause wilting of crops due to excessive water loss through transpiration from plants and evaporation from the soil respectively. Crops may also fail to germinate and sprout from the soil as a result of low moisture content, which is usually crucial in breaking the seed dormancy.
Primarily, the continued widespread desertification intrudes on the food supply chain right from the production level. This mainly happens in African countries such as Kenya due to dependence on unpredictable rainfall patterns as the main source of water for farming alongside limited awareness on how to harvest the same rainwater for future use.
What leads to increased desertification?
One of the major causes of widespread desertification is human activities on natural climate change. Some of the human activities are:
- Deforestation; is the excessive cutting down of trees without any plans to replace them, especially in forest reserves. This directly affects water sources such as rivers that supply water to support farming activities and also reduces the tendency of forests to attract rainfall. Once water catchment areas are interfered with, it means that the food production rate will experience a drastic fall. Consequently, the situation of countercurrent demand and supply of foods in the markets will be on the rise and cause food security challenges.
- Overgrazing: whereby an excess number of livestock is repeatedly subjected to the same piece of land for a long time. The cover crops are reduced leaving the soils exposed to erosion. Additionally, the repeated walking by the animals compacts the soils, which interferes with the soil biodiversity and the ability of roots to sprout again to form grass as cover crops.
- Accumulation of salts in the soil due to uncontrolled irrigation activities. Salinity in the soil reduces the ability of plants to grow by slowing the water absorption rate that is responsible for plant metabolism. Plants eventually die off.
- High uncontrolled carbon emissions from the high usage of fossil fuels by motor industries, agriculture, and manufacturing are causing an increase the temperatures. Rainfall patterns have been disrupted. This is indicated by some areas reporting missing rainfall for a period of more than three years.
What possible steps can we take to combat Desertification?
- Initiating controlled irrigation programs to reclaim ASAL areas into productive lands which will boost food production through extensive farming approaches.
- Water harvesting needs financial facilitation in low-water catchment areas. Water pans need to be constructed to help harvest runoff water during short rain seasons.
- Practicing rotational grazing where the animals are transferred to fresh land before they cause permanent damage.
- Encourage the use of clean energy such as hydroelectric power and solar energy
- Cover cropping to control soil erosion.
- Promoting reforestation where tree harvesting has been done and afforestation on new barren lands to increase tree population cover that will increase rainfall formation.
- Reinforcing environmental and agricultural policies by multiagency coordination will ensure everyone is responsible enough to initiate actions to Combat Desertification.
Combating Desertification is possible through a collaborative approach from all the stakeholders to general populations to achieve a resilient ecosystem that will ensure the environment remains green and most importantly food system is safeguarded. Everyone loves a beautiful environment that is clean, safe, and with sufficient clean water. We have no escape route other than investing in new adaptations that are environmentally friendly. Combating desertification means protecting and promoting life to all the Biodiversity that exists on this lovely planet, Earth.
World Day to Combat Desertification.