Last Friday Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating the Desertification and Drought Day, which was previously known as the World Desertification Day. Observance of the day is meant to promote public awareness on international and local efforts to combat desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) in line with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to which Zimbabwe is a party. The day has been commemorated since 1994.
The theme for 2022 The day was commemorated under the theme Rising Up from Drought Together, which was a clarion call for all of us to play a part in the fight against drought. Drought is one of the most destructive natural disasters in terms of loss of life arising from impacts, such as wide scale crop failure, veld fires, loss of livestock due to poverty death; and water stress and shocks.This is exacerbated by land degradation and climate change.This year’s global observance, is meant to encourage households, communities, private sector and countries to act together to tackle the immediate impacts of drought and build long-term resilience.
Droughts have been part of human and natural systems, but what we are experiencing now is much worse, largely due to human activity. Recent droughts point to a precarious future for the world. Food and water shortages as well as wildfires caused by the severe drought have all intensified in recent years. Between 1900 and 2019, droughts impacted 2,7 billion people in the world, and caused 11,7 million deaths. Currently, forecasts estimate that by 2050 droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population.
Linking the Desertification and Drought Day to the deliberations of the unccd Cop 15
During the 15th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP 15) to the UNCCD, which was recently held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, drought management was among the priority issues.
A decision was made that countries should increase commitment to pursue effective policies on drought, develop and implement national drought plans and build strong partnerships on drought management with the active participation of relevant sectors and stakeholders, local communities, women, youth, civil society and the private sector. Zimbabwe is working towards achieving this through climate proof agricultural programs premised on public awareness and capacity building, among other several initiatives.
Impacts of droughts in Zimbabwe
In recent years, rainfall amounts in most parts of Zimbabwe have been erratic and sub-normal mainly due to the El Niño effect. Studies have shown that after the 1991/2 drought, it took three rainy seasons for the system to stabilise again. In 2015, about 60% of livestock perished in some areas due to drought. These statisticsare alarming and call for the prioritisation of sustainable land management projects and programmes that offer long term solutions to drought management as well as climate change adaptation measures to support community livelihoods.
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Thrust of the 2022 commemoration
This year the thrust hinged on land restoration projects and programmes being implemented by various communities, businesses, institutions, civil society, academia and governments in sustainable land management, and this also was in conformity to the decade of ecosystem restoration of 2020 to 2030 as well as the aspirations of the national blueprint, the National Development Strategy 1.
The commemoration events will be held in all the 10 provinces countrywide, where information on combating desertification and drought will be shared to local stakeholders.
The national commemoration was held at Makaha Secondary School in Mudzi District, Mashonaland East province on Friday, with participation from various stakeholders including; government, civil society, development partners, corporates, traditional leadership and communities, among others.
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