Preventing desertification and soil erosion

Woman walks in desert with child in her arms.
The SDC is committed to preserving soil fertility, forest and water resources in countries affected by desertification. ©CGIAR

Desertification and soil erosion cause the land to lose vital elements such as nutrients and minerals. As a result, people lose their means of agricultural production, their source of food and income, and even their entire livelihoods. In a bid to prevent this, the SDC works to promote sustainable land, forest and water management in affected areas.

The SDC's focus

The SDC supports the preservation of soil fertility and water resources through sustainable agriculture and forest management, primarily in arid regions such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and Central Asia. It imparts knowledge, supports research projects and provides assistance with institutional reforms. The SDC's activities to combat desertification and soil erosion include the following:

Protecting pasture land

In Mongolia, one of the countries most affected by desertification, the SDC has been working to protect pasture land since 2004. It promotes pasture user groups (PUGs), groups of herders that jointly manage grazing lands. The local government grants PUGs the rights to use the land. These groups draw up pasture management plans and use the meadows in rotation. PUGs are independent bodies increasingly recognised and supported by local governments. To date, 960 PUGs and 67 marketing cooperatives have been supported by the Green Gold project, involving more than 53,000 herder households (30% of all herder households in the country).

Sustainable forestry

Charcoal is an important fuel in many developing countries. Its production requires large quantities of wood, which can lead to deforestation, soil erosion and, ultimately, desertification. Sustainable forest management and the energy-efficient production of charcoal are measures that can be introduced to prevent desertification.

In Tanzania, the SDC supports a project called Transforming Tanzania's Charcoal Sector, in which residents of eight villages in the district of Kilosa draw up plans to manage the forest and carry them out on a community basis. At the same time, they are taught how to produce charcoal sustainably. As well as protecting the forest and wood resources, this also improves the quality of the charcoal, leading to higher incomes for charcoal producers.

Convention to Combat Desertification

Switzerland, represented by the SDC, has been actively involved in the design and implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The primary objective of the Convention is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought, particularly in Africa, through effective action at all levels.

WOCAT – Sharing information on sustainable land management

The SDC supports the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT), a global network led by the University of Bern's Centre for Development and Environment. Partners collect, evaluate and document information about sustainable land management (SLM) technologies and approaches, in particular in areas severely affected by desertification and drought. The data is used to facilitate decision-making on land use and to combat erosion, among other purposes.

Since early 2014, WOCAT has been recognised by the UNCCD as the global platform for documenting SLM best practices. WOCAT supports the 197 signatory countries in sharing their land management practices on the platform so that they can learn from each other quickly and easily. The SDC, for example, shares successful practices and valuable know-how on combating desertification, in a quick and cost-effective way.

Background

During desertification, the natural potential of the land deteriorates, meaning that it loses productivity, biological diversity and its ability to regenerate. The UNCCD thus defines desertification as 'land degradation'. The climatic and human factors of overgrazing, overexploitation, deforestation and unsustainable or environmentally-damaging irrigation systems contribute to desertification.

Approximately one third of the world's agricultural land has degraded. Every year, 12 million hectares are lost to desertification, an area three times the size of Switzerland. 2.7 billion people suffer from the ecological, economic and social consequences of desertification and soil erosion. Desertification is often linked to the poverty of the people living in the affected areas. In order to survive, the only option they have is to overexploit the land. Other contributing factors to overexploitation are international market imperatives and a lack of awareness about natural resources in some regions.

Switzerland ratified the UNCCD in 1996. It is the only legally binding document linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The 197 parties to the Convention work to improve the living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought.

The UNCCD recommends a bottom-up approach to achieve its objectives, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification. The two other UN conventions agreed at the 1992 Earth Summit – the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – are also crucial to the fight against desertification.

Documents

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 1095

Improving farm productivity in Georgia through dual vocational education and training

Three people in a greenhouse.

01.09.2018 - 31.08.2022

Agriculture is Georgia's most important sector. However, farming remains uncompetitive as farmers' skills are out of step with the job market and technological developments. Switzerland is continuing to support vocational education and training to improve productivity, farm income and the employment situation for students of agriculture.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Georgia
Vocational training
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Agricultural services & market
Rural development

01.09.2018 - 31.08.2022


CHF 6'352'000



Mozambique: Less illness thanks to better water supplies and sanitation

A villager in Niassa Province in northern Mozambique works a new handpump. She is surrounded by a group of people.

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

Many cases of illness in the poor region of northern Mozambique are caused by the poor condition of water supplies and sanitation.  The SDC is assisting the efforts of the local people and responsible authorities to improve the situation. Aim of the project: Better living conditions for half a million people – and less poverty.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mozambique
Health
Health systems strengthening

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021


CHF 7'445'000



Capacity building for Serbian municipalities

Around 50 parliamentarians in session at the Serbian parliament.

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

Switzerland is supporting the Serbian government’s public administration reform, which aims to make it more effective and accessible to both citizens and the private sector. SwissPRO project is being run in 99 municipalities (two-thirds of Serbia) to improve good governance, social inclusion and gender equality.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Serbia
Governance
Human rights
Gender
Decentralisation
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
Women’s equality organisations and institutions

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021


CHF 7'000'000



Decentralization and Municipal Support in Kosovo (DEMOS)

Two young people rollerblading on a cycle path..

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021

Since the declaration of independence in 2008, Kosovo has been engaged in the reform and decentralisation of its public authorities with the aim of strengthening autonomy and local democracy in its 38 municipalities. The SDC's “Decentralisation and Municipal Support” project (DEMOS) aims to help municipalities enhance democratic governance and municipal management and provide better public services, thereby supporting Kosovo in its transition to a democratic and decentralised state.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kosovo
Governance
Decentralisation
Democratic participation and civil society

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021


CHF 12'800'000



Bosnia and Herzegovina: Improving nursing care for better health services

A nurse sitting in a treatment room.

01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021

In Bosnia and Herzegovina nurses make up the largest group of healthcare professionals. However, the potential offered by their proximity to local communities is underexploited. They are often responsible for administrative tasks rather than patient care and, with limited career prospects, many nurses are attracted by better working conditions in Western Europe. This is regrettable because nurses and the care they provide can be a gateway to better health services for people living in rural areas and marginalised communities.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Health
Education
Health systems strengthening
Primary health care
Education facilities and training

01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021


CHF 5'125'000



Improved Access to Markets for Female and Male Fresh Fruits and Vegetable (FFV) Small Scale Producers

Improved access to markets for fresh fruits and vegetable (FFV) small scale producers (men and women), occupied Palestinian territory

01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021

With focus on private sector-led agriculture and agribusiness, this program pursues systemic change in the agriculture sector and supports business modalities that favor small scale producers in the occupied Palestinian territory. The overall goal is to contribute to build a resilient economy with equitable agricultural growth, whilst contributing to protect small scale producers’ entitlements to natural resources and access to markets.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
Agricultural services & market
Agricultural policy

01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021


CHF 3'900'000



Revitalising labour market in Moldova

Two young women checking cables.

01.12.2017 - 31.12.2021

With Moldova facing high unemployment and a slowdown in growth, the SDC is funding a project designed to offer young job seekers alternatives to emigration and to improve the country's economic situation. Switzerland is supporting reforms aimed at training a qualified workforce and improving the investment climate. This will not only promote demand-driven training but also help create new jobs in the private sector.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Moldova
Vocational training
Vocational training

01.12.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 5'350'000



Reducing youth unemployment in Kosovo with the help of the private sector

Two people on an adventure park ropes course.

16.11.2017 - 15.11.2021

The Promoting Private Sector Employment (PPSE) project is strengthening companies in the food and tourism sectors and spurring job creation in Kosovo.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kosovo
Employment & economic development
SME development

16.11.2017 - 15.11.2021


CHF 7'320'000



A more inclusive job market for women in the South Caucasus

A women reads information

01.11.2017 - 31.07.2021

In the three countries of the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia), many women face job market discrimination. In the absence of policy to create equal opportunities and jobs for women in the formal economy, women work unprotected in the informal sector. The Women’s Economic Empowerment in the South Caucasus project seeks to promote women's economic empowerment to facilitate their equal access to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
South Caucasus
Gender
Vocational training
Women’s equality organisations and institutions
Vocational training

01.11.2017 - 31.07.2021


CHF 3'400'000



A toolbox for sustainable sefl-reliance

Workers learn how to build stable houses in cyclone-affected Southwestern Haiti.

06.09.2017 - 30.06.2021

Haiti has been repeatedly devastated by earthquakes and hurricanes in recent years. SDC engineers are now working with those affected to build more stable houses from local materials. Five hundred new homes are to be built by 2021.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Haiti
Climate change and environment
Vocational training
Governance
Disaster risk reduction DRR
Vocational training
Public sector policy

06.09.2017 - 30.06.2021


CHF 3'423'500



Support to Municipal Development Project (MDP-3)

Support to municipal development project (MDP-3), occupied Palestinian territory

01.09.2017 - 31.12.2021

Since 2009, the Municipal Development Project (MDP) has been the main vehicle for policy reform in the Local Governance sector in the oPt. It has channelled funding to Municipalities to support infrastructure projects and capacity-building activities in a transparent and equitable manner, despite huge challenges linked to 50 years of Israeli Occupation and to 10 years of intra-Palestinian divide. MDP-3 (2017-2021) is supported by 7 donors and the Palestinian Authority: SDC’s contribution is in line with Swiss Cooperation Strategy for the oPt (2015-2018).

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Governance
Decentralisation
Democratic participation and civil society

01.09.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 5'300'000



Water and Sanitation for Syrian Refugees and Their Lebanese Hosts

a 1000 litre water tank

15.07.2017 - 15.06.2020

The crisis in Syria has a significant impact in Lebanon. The country is home to over one million Syrian refugees. Basic needs are unmet due to this unprecedented population growth and lack of public facilities. The SDC supports a project of the Lebanese Red Cross on water and sanitation for Syrian refugees and host communities in the Akkar Governorate bordering Syria.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Lebanon
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
DISASTER PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS
Disaster prevention and preparedness

15.07.2017 - 15.06.2020


CHF 1'100'000


Object 1 – 12 of 1095