World Day to Combat Desertification is 17 June. This year’s theme is “attainment of food security for all through sustainable food systems.”
Desertification occurs when drylands are degraded due to climate variations, too much water being used or both. In some countries more than 80 percent of the water supply is used for agriculture, manufacturing, other business and by local people. That leaves little for wildlife or plants.
Parts of India, Spain, Australia, Brazil and Syria have suffered from extreme, prolonged droughts in recent years. California is currently in its fourth year of drought and China is facing water challenges in the near future.
Desalination plants, grey-water recycling systems and water imports are amongst the measures used to address water shortages. They sometimes are sufficient, but not always.
“Larger populations and growing economies demand more water and in some places climate change will likely reduce available water supply,” according to the World Resources Institute. “While our vulnerability to drought grows, the incidence of extreme weather events including drought will grow as well.”
One in every eight people currently lacks sufficient nutritious food. In many areas, this is partly due to a shortage of water for agriculture. The United Nations is calling for more sustainable use of land and more effective action to be taken to address desertification, but is ignoring the main action that would make a truly lasting difference: reversing population growth. Fewer people simply would require less food and water.