Land and environmental degradation and desertification in Africa

Little reliable data is available on the extent of land degradation in Africa. However, anyone who has travelled through the continent has observed that land degradation is widespread and serious.

The presence of gullies and sand dunes, of degraded forests and grazing lands are obvious, although the effects of sheet erosion and declining soil fertility are less noticeable.

The wealth of Africa depends on her ability to conserve and manage her land resources. It is a well known fact that soil degradation not only results in decreased food production but also in droughts, ecological imbalance and consequent degradation of the quality of life.

In Africa, the most conspicuous symptoms of the negative impact of land degradation on food production are stagnating and declining yields and increasing levels of poverty.

Throughout the continent, regardless of the climatic zone,
meteorological records show that unpredictability of rains is a common feature.

In the Sahel, variations in total annual rainfall can be up to 30 or 40 per cent. Even, the humid and sub-humid zones are subject to rainfall fluctuations of 15 to 20 per cent.

In most cases, the rainfall is rarely gentle and even. It usually comes as torrential downpours, which are destructive to soils and harmful to plants.


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