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UN urges action against advancing deserts

United Kingdom

Poor farming practices, lack of water management, deforestation and climate change are turning vast stretches of the Earth into barren deserts, the United Nations said on Monday.

Launching a 10-year campaign to halt the advance of deserts, the U.N. environment programme (UNEP) said land degradation in dry places had affected 3.6 billion hectares (8.9 billion acres) -- a quarter of the world's land area -- and a billion people.

"Continued land degradation ... is a threat to food security, leading to starvation among the most acutely affected ... and robbing the world of productive land," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.

The statement said 12 million hectares of arable land was lost to desertification each year, causing losses of agricultural productivity of $42 billion annually.

Africa is the continent considered by U.N. officials to be the worst affected by desertification. Its semi-arid Sahel region, stretching from Senegal in the west to northern Somalia, is fast turning into a wasteland.

Frequent droughts cause crops to fail. Niger and Chad are facing life-threatening hunger as much of the Sahel has been suffering a food crisis in recent months.

UNEP proposed community projects to plant trees and other plants that hold topsoil in place, preventing deforestation and tackling over-grazing by cattle-keepers, and teaching local communities how to manage their land better.

"Efforts have been made to address land degradation ... (but) more action is needed to arrest and reverse ... creeping desertification worldwide," the statement said.


The news content in this section is responsibility of the information agencies and does not necessarily reflect the position of the Government of Mexico on this or other related topics.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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