Prepared by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in preparation for the sixteenth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-16), this report reviews drought and desertification in Africa by bringing together inputs from member states, regional partners, available documentation and comment from various organisations and individuals. The report begins by providing an overview of the status and trends in drought and desertification in Africa, outlining the impact that both have on economic growth and poverty reduction, agriculture and food security, water, biodiversity, energy and migration. The paper then reviews the progress made in the implementation of measures and actions at national, subregional and regional levels aimed at combating desertification and mitigating impacts of drought, taking into account the main goals and targets as set out in Agenda 21. It discusses challenges encountered, lessons learned and priority approaches and actions for further implementation in the area of drought and desertification. Main conclusions of the review include:
drought and desertification continue to threaten the livelihoods of millions of people in Africa. This trend is set to worsen with the onset of climate change, to which many countries in the region are most vulnerable. As such, desertification and drought are at the heart of development challenges in Africa and merit urgent attention in policies and actions at national, regional and global level
combating desertification in the continent has tremendous benefits in enhancing the continent’s progress towards meeting MDGs particularly in terms of poverty reduction, attaining food security, combating diseases and ensuring environmental sustainability
African countries have responded and made some demonstrated progress towards tackling drought and desertification. With support from international partners, many countries are taking some concrete action at various levels to tackle desertification as well as to mitigate the impacts of drought, but these plans urgently need to be scaled up
African countries continue to face challenges and constraints that hamper progress in addressing drought and desertification. These include high levels of poverty, weak institutional capacities, challenges in resource mobilisation, weak information base, and inadequate access to affordable appropriate technology.