World, Africa

UN pushes for action on African desertification

Two-day event in Nairobi comes less than week after Kenya said 1.3 million citizens faced hardship in drought-hit areas

18.10.2016
UN pushes for action on African desertification

By Magdalene Mukami

NAIROBI, Kenya

The UN spoke out strongly about desertification in Africa on Tuesday less than a week after Kenya’s government said 1.3 million citizens were facing starvation in drought-hit regions.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) met for a two-day event in Nairobi and called on the Kenyan government to push for the restoration of five million hectares of degraded land to help fight desertification.

Dry spells have caused hardship in the arid and semi-arid lands of northern Kenya.

Monique Barbut, UNCCD executive secretary, said: “Every single country should take such a commitment to make sure that by 2030 we are not losing more land than what we are restoring.”

Barbut called on Kenyans to look into alternative sources of clean fuel in order for the country to achieve 10 percent forest cover, a goal set by the country’s environment ministry.

At a global level, Barbut said the two-day conference would fight for all countries to put up early-warning systems to mitigate the effects of drought so people living in rural areas could be prepared in advance.

Kenya’s Environment Principal Secretary Charles Sunkuli said the country had identified huge arid areas which needed to be rehabilitated. He said come November, Kenya would grow over five million trees in a bid to combat desertification.

The country's forest cover is currently at only seven percent; the UNCCD estimated 184 million African people live in degraded agricultural areas.

The UN thinks in 2010 an estimated 10.8 million Kenyan people lived in degraded agricultural areas accounting for about 40 percent of the country’s rural community.

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