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 133 – 144 of 173

Programme d’appui à une gouvernance agricole inclusive en Haïti (PAGAI)

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2029

Le programme PAGAI vise à améliorer l’accès de 55’000 exploitations familiales haïtiennes à un cadre politique et des services agricoles appropriés. Pour y arriver, le programme va accompagner les organisations des producteurs ruraux (organisations paysannes), qui seront renforcées dans leur gouvernance interne, dans leur rôle de concertation/négociation de services et dans leur capacité de défendre les intérêts et plaider pour les paysannes et paysans d’Haïti.


Cocoa value chain

Cocoa Chain Value Family

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2023

Actors in the Central American cocoa value chain improve their productivity, establish public-private alliances, respect economic, social and cultural rights, and reduce their environmental impact. Thanks to the program 4,500 producer families will increase their net annual income by at least 10%, while 4,000 young adults and 2,000 women gain access to sustainable jobs. This will boost the local economy in the poor and peripheral areas in which cocoa is grown.  


Generating Rubber Opportunities project (GRO)

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2022

The production of natural rubber is a key livelihood activity of farmers in Mon and Kayin State and northern Tanintharyi region. CARE International is mandated to implement a Market Systems Development project to work with all market actors and particularly the support institutions (meso level) for improving information, market access and access to inputs for 25,000 farmers as well as improving working conditions of particularly women in rubber plantations.


Advancing Land Use Rights

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2022

Competition for land in Mozambique is sharply increasing. Despite favourable land legislation for the protection of interests and rights of the local communities the concretization of these rights is still precarious. SDC’s program supports the realization of these community rights to land and its benefits through institutional development, strengthening dialogue and practical collaboration between local government, civil society and private sector in order to contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable development.


Crop Trust – Genebank Platform 2018

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2018

The Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) safeguards globally important collections of crop diversity critical for improving food and nutrition security. Genebanks require constant maintenance. The Crop Trust Endowment Fund ensures the long-term funding for the maintenance of these genebanks. The unique bilateral contribution by Switzerland contributes to safeguarding (and building up of) the Endowment Fund.


Andean Regional Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change (ARIACC)

15.12.2017 - 31.07.2024

The Andean Regional Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change builds on Swiss experience and aims at incorporating the resilience of poor rural Andean communities into national climate change adaptation (CCA) public policies, programs and intiatives of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. Together with key stakeholders, it will promote the uptake of an integrated pro-poor approach, build on regional knowledge exchange and coordination, and articulate with the global CCA agenda


Facility for Refugees, Migrants, Forced Displacement and Rural Stability (IFAD)

01.12.2017 - 31.12.2023

Switzerland is committed at the highest political level to help countries in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region coping with the refugee crisis. By co-financing two projects funded by IFAD (the International Fund for Agricultural Development) in Jordan and Lebanon, SDC will contribute to create sustainable livelihoods for thousands of Syrian refugees, and will also support host communities to increase their income and food security by improving the quality of their small ruminants and cattle, as well as their value in the market.
 


Technical Assistance Facility for Sustainable Business Development in Agriculture

01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021

This publicly supported fund provides technical support (training, marketing, organization dev., business plans) to medium sized enterprises active in agriculture and food processing in several developing countries alongside with capital investments from private impact investors. Impact investors seek to generate a social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. The fund is a public private partnership that will trigger an estimated $30m in private capital and improve the output market for approx. 200k family farms. 


Inclusion financière dans l'Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA)

01.12.2017 - 31.12.2024

En Afrique de l’Ouest, le faible accès aux services financiers ne permet pas de moderniser les exploitations familiales et de développer des activités productives. La DDC soutient la stratégie régionale d’inclusion financière de l’Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine et la Swiss Capacity Building Facility pour accroitre l’accès à de nombreux jeunes et femmes aux services financiers et leur offrir des opportunités économiques permettant ainsi de s’attaquer aux causes de la migration et de l’insécurité.


Partenariat scientifique entre 2iE Ouagadougou et institutions universitaires suisses

01.10.2017 - 31.12.2022

La maitrise de l’eau et l’accès à des sources d’énergie durables sont des facteurs nécessaires pour créer les conditions d’un développement humain durable en Afrique. Pour y parvenir la formation de cadres compétents et le développement de technologies et d’approches innovantes sont indispensables. Le partenariat avec 2IE y a contribué durant les années écoulées et les résultats atteints feront l’objet d’une capitalisation au cours de cette phase de désengagement qui est la dernière phase de ce partenariat.


Improving seed systems for smallholder farmers‘ food security

01.10.2017 - 30.09.2022

Smallholders often use informal seed systems to meet their seed needs. The project increases the access, availability and necessary diversity of adapted seeds to smallholders to reduce their vulnerability to shocks and contribute to their food and nutrition security. In national and global policy dialogues improved and pluralistic seed systems that better respond to the reality and the needs of smallholders are promoted and smallholders will get political recognition for their role in germplasm conservation.


Rangeland Management Project (RAMA)

01.10.2017 - 31.08.2022

Poor and landless families depend on rangeland resources for livestock rearing, fuel and fodder collection. A growing population puts increased pressure on limited resources, while decades of conflict and displacement have weakened rangeland management systems. RAMA will improve livelihoods and food security of rural households through empowering the communities to sustainably manage and use their rangeland resources in order to generate equitable benefits.

Object 133 – 144 of 173