15
Mobilizing and
involving people
1.C4T1 2.C4T2 3.C4T3
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The most important partnership to be forged when tackling desertification is between aid donors, national governments, local administrations and the people of the drylands themselves. Over the years, experience has shown that the phenomenon cannot be tackled effectively unless the people concerned are fully committed and involved. The people of the drylands are their own greatest resource in this combat, as they know their land better than anyone. In some ways, their skills may be greater as they are confronted by far more difficult conditions than populations in other regions. Every man, woman and child is called upon to combat desertification.

C4M1
4. All levels of society are called upon to combat desertification. By organising information open days, workshops and local projects
it is possible to involve the whole community including youth, women and the older generation.
© UNESCO-MAB

Broadening the focus

Most attempts to fight desertification have concentrated more on its symptoms than on its causes. They tended to concentrate on alleviating its effects and on reducing the human activities that seemed to immediately contribute to them. They sought to tackle over-cultivation, overgrazing, deforestation and faulty irrigation directly without addressing the underlying social and economic pressures that produced them. This often resulted in blaming the victims of desertification for the damage caused without making a serious attempt to understand the forces outside their control driving them to over-exploit their land.

National action programmes

Combating desertification is expensive.
All countries, even the most developed among them and those who are unaffected by desertification, are called upon to finance projects to reverse the desertification process. Funds may come from co-operative projects, fund-raising, donations etc.
The money is used to put a stop to deforestation, to curb soil erosion, to forge partnerships and common plans of action, to develop new methods while adapting existing methods to the conditions of each country, to educate the population and so on.
The Convention attempts to integrate social and economic issues into the heart of its analysis and implementation by attributing an equal focus on these issues as granted to the physical and biological aspects of desertification.

Combating desertification also relies on the elaboration of National Action Plans (NAP).
Each country should adopt a participatory approach whereby all members of society join forces to combat land degradation and are supported by their government who accept, for example, to attribute power to women, farmers and livestock breeders in order to combine their joint efforts. In a broader sense, children should also play an active role in the protection of the environment.

Involving the whole population

Adults should be informed and made aware that there are inexpensive and easy ways to implement methods to combat drought.
It is thus important to organize:

The older generation, as guardians of important traditional knowledge, should be involved in reducing land degradation and alleviating the effects of drought. In fact, the problems of desertification cannot be solved unless all levels of society are mobilized.

C4M1
5. Knowing how to read and write helps develop and guide one’s future, and to combat desertification.
© Ines Forbes, UNESCO

Learning to combat desertification in school

A basic education such as being able to add, read and write, is the first step towards combating desertification. School is an important means for the transfer and diffusion of information, which enables people to communicate with others affected by desertification. More importantly, it helps develop skills and techniques to combat
desertification while promoting techniques that may help others. Technical manuals or educational guides developed for schools should not only be targeted at teachers and their pupils but also shared with parents and the local population via the children.

activities

pencil

Organize an interview with local political representatives: mayor, community leaders, chiefs, etc. and ask them about the concrete actions that are (or not) being undertaken in the community to counter the effects of drought and desertification.

Write what is being said in your notebook. Invite them to visit the school to talk on the subject.

Invite your parents and your local community to the meeting to discuss with the decision-makers the problems encountered at the local level, due to the effects of desertification.

pencil

Organize an exhibition on combating desertification.

Use the posters, sculptures, school assignments and the wall chart that the whole class has assembled together during the desertification lessons, and invite everyone from the village to attend.

smile

Discuss in class how you would explain to an imaginary newcomer to your village/town, the importance of combating desertification, giving examples of the activities undertaken or to be undertaken at your school or home.


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