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 157 – 168 of 172

Improved food security, nutritional status and incomes among vulnerable households in Juba, South Sudan

01.02.2017 - 31.12.2018

In the current context of economic stress and limited supply of food due to disruption of the main supply routes, urban and peri-urban agriculture in and around areas of Juba provides livelihood opportunities for food production and income generation. The deteriorating situation calls for a two-pronged approach of boosting the agricultural production of nutritious commodities and improving access to the most vulnerable groups who may not be able to produce for their own consumption.


Sustainable Livelihood and Disaster Mitigation (SLDM)

01.02.2017 - 30.06.2022

The intervention works on the nexus of DRR, food security and agroforestry and successor programme of the Sloping Land Management programme (SLM). Building on SLM, food security remains central, but DRR is the principle concern of the domain of intervention. Combining food security and DRR increases the scope to work holistically towards sustaining the resources on which livelihoods depend. The emphasis on sustainable food production addresses the humanitarian needs of communities. Coupling this with a focus on community action serves to enlarge the scope for groups and individuals to act more autonomously.


Programme d’Hydraulique Rurale – Appui Au Secteur Eau et Assainissement (PHRASEA) Phase 2

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2022

Moins de 50% des nigériens ont accès à l’eau potable et seuls 7% disposent de conditions d'assainissement de base. La croissance démographique galopante, la dispersion de la population sur le territoire et la précarité des finances publiques sont des contraintes empêchant l'accès des populations à ces services de base. Le PHRASEA vient en appui aux efforts du gouvernement, en misant sur la maitrise d’ouvrage des communes.


Programme d’appui à une gouvernance agricole inclusive en Haiti (PAGAI) - Phase 1

01.07.2016 - 31.07.2022

Le PAGAI vise l’amélioration de la sécurité alimentaire et du revenu des exploitations agricoles à travers un meilleur accès des producteurs-trices à des services, des innovations susceptibles d’augmenter la performance et la rentabilité économique de l’agriculture familiale en Haïti. L’expérience et l’expertise reconnues de la Suisse dans le renforcement des petites exploitations agricoles permettra l’accompagnement de 10'000 exploitants-tes agricoles et de 30 organisations paysannes dans le Sud d’Haïti afin qu’ils puissent mieux se structurer, jouer des fonctions économiques plus importantes dans les filières agricoles et mieux intégrer les espaces de prise de décision.


Programme d’appui à la commercialisation du bétail en Afrique de l’Ouest (PACBAO)

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2023

L’élevage et les marchés des produits animaux contribuent à l’intégration régionale et à la sécurité alimentaire en Afrique de l’Ouest. La Suisse soutient la Communauté Economique des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEDEAO) et le secteur privé de la région afin de fluidifier les échanges des produits animaux entre les 15 Etats plus le Tchad. La finalité est d’accroitre le revenu des éleveurs, développer des emplois surtout pour les femmes et les jeunes et favoriser une transhumance apaisée dans la région.



Swiss Bluetec Bridge: Swiss start-ups benefit disadvantaged populations

11.02.2016 - 31.05.2024

In addition to the sustainable management of resources and good governance, water-related challenges open up a wide field for technological innovation, particularly in the application of nanotechnologies for water treatment, especially ones which are energy-efficient. The challenge for Swiss Bluetec Bridge is to put these cutting-edge 'Swiss' technologies at the service of the poor and ensure that they are sustainably managed. To do this the project must seek to bridge the gap between public support for start-ups and private investment.


Programme de développement social en milieu urbain (PDSU)Programme de développement économique local et de sécurité alimentaire à Koutiala

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2022

Le Programme Sigida Kura a permis d’améliorer les capacités de planification et de gestion des 37  collectivités territoriales du cercle de Koutiala qui ont réalisé des infrastructures permettant d’améliorer  la sécurité alimentaire dans le cercle, d’augmenter les revenus des producteurs et de créer plus de 230 emplois permanents. Avec cette dernière phase, la DDC poursuit son accompagnement aux collectivités territoriales qui mettent en place un cadre durable de leur développement économique local.


Innovation and dissemination of technologies for adaptation of agriculture to climate change – AGRIADAPTA

01.07.2015 - 31.12.2023

10'000 families in 19 municipalities of the country improve their food security and their situation of poverty by practising sustainable and climate-smart agriculture. The Project will provide resources so that small-hold farmers in environmentally degraded dry areas affected by climate change and variability develop capacities, exchange knowledge and apply technologies for climate change adaptation.


Sustainable water and pasture management to alleviate the plight of Ethiopian pastoralists

A group of Ethiopian men and women beside a half dried-up pool of water, using picks and shovels to dig new basins.

01.06.2015 - 30.09.2022

Drought, fodder scarcity and conflicts over natural resources make life difficult for pastoralists in southern Ethiopia. The SDC has taken various measures to improve their food security and their resilience to crisis situations, ranging from the rehabilitation of pastureland and water points to the introduction of land use plans and the diversification of income sources for women.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Ethiopia
Agriculture & food security
Conflict & fragility
Climate change and environment

Agricultural land resources
Household food security
Conflict prevention
Disaster risk reduction DRR

01.06.2015 - 30.09.2022


CHF  9’523’920



Programme d’Appui au Secteur de l’Elevage au Mali – PASEM

01.12.2014 - 30.11.2022

Malgré son importance dans l’économie, l’environnement et les sociétés (agro)pastorales, l’élevage rencontre plusieurs contraintes dont la faible productivité, l’insécurité foncière, la faible organisation des acteurs et une forme de marginalisation sociale des éleveurs. La DDC souhaite valoriser les immenses potentialités de l’élevage en renforçant l’approche chaine de valeurs orientée vers le développement des marchés et des acteurs du secteur privé, favorisant la prise en compte des pauvres, des femmes et des jeunes.


Object 157 – 168 of 172