Learning to combat desertification

The oasis nourishes the body; the desert nourishes the soulů
(Berber proverb)

A Teacher’s Guide
An activity and educational guide to understand and combat the phenomenon
of desertification.


Teacher's notes

Part One: The Situation
General presentation of desertification

Unit 1.
What is desertification?

Unit 2.
Where does desertification occur?

Unit 3.
How does desertification occur?

Unit 4.
Climate change and desertification

Unit 5.
Man and the drylands

Unit 6.
Dwellings of the drylands

Unit 7.
Water resources

Unit 8.

Unit 9.

Unit 10.
Biological diversity

Unit 11.
Environmental consequences
of desertification

Unit 12.
Socio-economic consequences
of desertification


Part Two: The Solutions
Solving the problems of desertification

Unit 13.
Raising awareness about the problem

Unit 14.
The role of the United Nations Convention
to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Unit 15.
Mobilizing and involving people

Unit 16.
Measuring and evaluating the problems

Unit 17.
Re-establishing a favourable environment

Unit 18.
Developing sustainable agricultural practices

Unit 19.
Utilizing renewable energies

Unit 20.
Reintroducing indigenous knowledge


List of countries signatories to the Convention

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Desertification is a wide-ranging problem as it has both natural and human dimensions. It generates environmental degradation and the depletion of natural resources that leads to poverty and hunger everywhere. To combat desertification is to contribute to the eradication of poverty. Every one of us can get involved at our own level to combat desertification. Children, who are particularly receptive and who demonstrate a spontaneous interest in questions relating to nature and the environment, can be the front line players in this collective combat. To help them better understand environmental problems and stimulate their search for possible solutions, the educational system should promote the notion of sustainable development.

Targeted to educators and their pupils during their final years at primary school, this educational kit aims to clarify scientific knowledge on desertification. Environmental problems present as many challenges as there are socially responsible and imaginative solutions to preserve and restore fertility in the world’s drylands.

We are particularly grateful to the Governments of Italy and Switzerland for their support in the UNESCO and UNCCD Secretariat joint initiative, encouragement that has helped make this kit a reality. We hope that it will be a useful contribution to the on-going efforts of the international community to combat desertification, a phenomenon that can be contained once shared collective responsibility has been accepted and understood. Famine and poverty are not inevitable. Let’s give the present generation, and those generations to come, the means to preserve themselves.


Koïchiro Matsuura
UNESCO Director General

Hama Arba Diallo
UNCCD Executive Secretary