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 145 – 156 of 172

Facility for Refugees, Migrants, Forced Displacement and Rural Stability (FARMS), SIGHT and HALEPP

01.08.2017 - 31.12.2024

With this contribution to the Facility for Refugees, Migrants, Forced Displacement and Rural Stability (FARMS) established by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in 2016, Switzerland will contribute to sustainable livelihoods for approximately 5000 Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. The two co-funded projects will also support host communities, in particular poor smallholders breeding small ruminants (Jordan) and smallholders in the dairy sector (Lebanon) to increase their income and food security.


Support to WWF rattan initiative: "Sustainable rattan and bamboo supply chains in the Lao PDR”

01.08.2017 - 31.03.2021

Maintaining high biodiversity in agro-ecosystems contributes to poverty reduction in rural livelihoods. Better knowledge, tools and institutional arrangements are needed to support poverty alleviation and preserve biodiversity. Considering the current development context in Lao PDR, WWF supports the conservation and sustainable economic use of rattan and bamboo, aiming at improving the livelihood of upland farmers and enhancing the policy environment.


Global Diet Quality Project

01.08.2017 - 31.12.2022

Diet is the most important determinant of health. Multiple forms of malnutrition co-exist with overweight and obesity being the fastest growing form, particularly in developing countries. SDC as a main bilateral donors to address non-communicable diseases aims to close a significant data gap by facilitating the generation of routinely collected and internationally comparable data on diet quality, thereby contributing to a better understanding of dietary trends, awareness, and policies. 


A FONDS: Appui au FOnds Nationaux de Développement du Secteur agricole

01.07.2017 - 30.11.2022

Le Bénin a besoin d’un dispositif national pour le financement du secteur agricole. La DDC soutient l’Etat béninois et le secteur privé dans la mise en place de dispositifs communs et pérennes de financement du secteur. Le but est de renforcer la productivité, la compétitivité des productions agricoles et la résilience des systèmes de productions aux effets des variations climatiques. Ceci devrait contribuer à créer des emplois pour les jeunes.


Support to GRET bamboo initiative: “Strengthening the bamboo and rattan sectors in Lao PDR”

01.07.2017 - 30.04.2021

Maintaining high biodiversity in agro-ecosystems contributes to poverty reduction in rural livelihoods. Better knowledge, tools and institutional arrangements are needed to support poverty alleviation and preserve biodiversity. Considering the current development context in Lao PDR, GRET supports the conservation and sustainable economic use of bamboo and rattan, aiming at improving the livelihood of upland farmers and enhancing the policy environment.


LEB – Improved Water Resources Monitoring and Integrated Water Resources Management in the North of Lebanon

01.07.2017 - 31.05.2022

For over five years now, the Syria crisis is continuing to affect middle-income neighbouring countries. As a result, Lebanon hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. The weak governance of the Government has been worsened with the burden of the refugees from Syria and Palestine who use the same overstretched infrastructure and public services. The project aims at enabling the water authorities to better manage the water sector for the benefit of the vulnerable communities in the North of the country.



Strengthening Research for Agriculture Policy Development

15.06.2017 - 31.12.2020

In 2012, a Policy Think Tank (PTT) was established under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, with the vision of helping guiding the country towards economic prosperity and poverty alleviation. The PTT has established a core team, carried out several studies and generated interest amongst stakeholders involved in the agricultural sector policy improvement. Now, the PTT structure and mandate need to be strengthened and adapted to answer to the changes that the country is facing.


Accompagnement des Organisations Paysannes et développement de systèmes de marchés durables

15.06.2017 - 31.08.2023

Confrontées à de nombreux défis liés aux effets du changement climatique, à la sécurisation foncière et à l’accès aux marchés, les exploitations familiales peinent à améliorer leurs revenus et à contribuer à la sécurité alimentaire nationale. Le programme vise à renforcer les organisations paysannes et à développer des partenariats avec le secteur privé pour accroitre l’offre des services d’appui/conseil aux exploitations familiales et ainsi contribuer au développement économique durable de 75'000 ménages.


Strengthening Land Governance

01.06.2017 - 31.07.2022

In the past 12 months, close to 10’000 claims on land were registered with state/regional governments. This project addresses land issue from three different angles: 1) OneMap Myanmar, implemented by the University of Bern, facilitates multi-stakeholder processes based on accurate land data; 2) the Land Core Group is THE voice of Civil Society in policy making around land; and 3) the Transnational Institute builds the capacity and networks of ethnic civil society organisations for their effective participation in policy and peace processes.


Soutien au Dispositif National de Sécurité Alimentaire -PRESA-

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2022

Malgré l’excédent céréalier enregistré depuis plus de 20 ans, le Mali fait face à des crises alimentaires récurrentes qui touchent près du quart de la population. La Suisse soutient le Dispositif National de Sécurité Alimentaire par la combinaison des instruments de l’aide humanitaire et de développement en vue de gérer les crises alimentaires et renforcer la résilience des populations vulnérables. Cet appui contribuera à la stabilité du pays et de la sous-région et a le potentiel de réduire la migration forcée.


Reform and Development of Markets, Value Chains and Producers’ Organisations

Reform and development of markets, value chains and producers’ organisations, occupied Palestinian territory

01.03.2017 - 31.12.2022

Private sector-led agriculture and agribusiness in the Palestinian occupied territory (oPT) can play a key role in building a resilient economy towards economic growth and in safeguarding rights and entitlements to natural resources and markets. This program aims at improving income and productivity in the agriculture sector, through improved access to markets, increased share of local market, enhanced competitiveness and profitability of Palestinian agribusinesses.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Agriculture & food security
Agricultural development
Agricultural policy
Agricultural co-operatives & farmers’ organisations

01.03.2017 - 31.12.2022


CHF  3’000’000


Object 145 – 156 of 172