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The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are stealing our future. But they have also opened and exposed us, as young people worldwide, to countless opportunities for digital possibilities and a more sustainable future. But will we really run with these opportunities and transform the world to the future we really want?
Turkana in northern Kenya is one of the driest regions of the East African nation. This 77,000 square kilometre county receives an average of just 200mm of rain annually, compared to a national average of 680mm. And with three consecutive rain seasons failing since 2020, many residents are now faced with food scarcity, one of the painful effects of an ongoing drought. According to Peter Eripete, Turkana County’s Head of Public Service, the effects of drought are hardest felt by the residents who are mainly pastoralists. Their reliance on livestock means that when their livestock die, their income levels fall drastically, affecting entire families’ food security. In Kangirenga Village in Katilu, an administrative Ward in southern Turkana, we found Lokutan Amaler preparing her only meal for the day - boiled maize. Food has been hard to come by for Lokutan and her family. “I had nothing to eat. All my food storage containers are empty. If I had not received this maize from a well wisher, I would not have had anything to eat today” Lokutan explained as she stirred the boiling maize in a cooking pot over a three-stone fire. Traditionally, the Turkana people have always been dependent on their livestock for sustenance. Whenever they need to buy foodstuffs or household supplies, they sell a goat or cow at the market and with the money received, make the necessary purchases. But with the shortage of rains leading to a lack of pasture, many cows, goats and even camels have died, leading to a loss of income for many across this vast county. To get out of the recurring cycle of lack of food whenever drought visits, a few people have now diversified their sources of sustenance. Lokutan has planted green grams a short walk from her home. Her garden is part of a 10-acre agriculture project initiated by Panafricaire. Eunice Eseison, who coordinates the farming project for Panafricaire says “Convincing the residents to take up farming was an uphill task. Though a few saw the sense it made, it took us very long to convince many that farming was something they could do profitably because it went against their culture”. But with time, those who enrolled in the project including Lokutan have seen the benefits after finding an alternative source of food at every harvest, and income when the excess is sold in the local market. While the work done by organizations like PanAfricaire to mitigate the effects of drought are commendable, food security still remains a concern in Turkana. Greater investments are needed to have more land under cultivation with improved farming practices that will increase productivity from the land. This will allow greater year-round harvests for Lokutan and other farmers, ensuring that they are always cushioned from the harmful effects of the drought.
Using drones, satellite images and computers, communities across the Sahel will plot the exact location and population of their Baobab trees using the global positioning system (GPS). The image of each tree growing in the 100 million hectares of land under restoration is collected by drone, converted into data that is transferred via satellite to a computer that is trained to automatically pick out the Baobabs.
On a mission to save the world's soils from extinction, the Save Soil campaign reached Bonn on 13 April 2022. The 100-day journey led by Sadhguru will cover 30,000 km across 25 nations to call on the policymakers and the public to make soil regeneration a priority. The campaign led by Sadhguru on his motorbike received a warm welcome from the city of Bonn officials and the executive management of the UN agencies in Germany. Following a round of discussions, Sadhguru joined the UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw for a live chat that was streamed across the UNCCD platforms. A yogi, mystic and visionary, Sadhguru has been named one of India’s 50 most influential people, whose work touched lives of millions worldwide. An engaging voice at major global fora that address issues of socioeconomic development, leadership and spirituality, he also initiated a number of large-scale projects focused on social revitalization, education and the environment, as a way to gave millions of people the means to overcome poverty, improve quality of life and achieve community-based sustainable development. The Save Soil movement strives to rally the environmentally-conscious around soil conservation, advocating the power of individual actions for policy change and public engagement. During their discussion, Sadhguru and Mr. Thiaw agreed that land and soil restoration can be a simple and powerful solution to the key environmental challenges of today, including climate change, biodiversity loss and destruction of ecosystems. Realizing that everything we need in our daily lives comes from soil and that conscious actions can make a real difference is the first step to preserving this precious resource and reversing degradation. The UNCCD and the Save Soil campaign will reconvene at the UNCCD COP15 in Abidjan on 9-20 May 2022. Remember to follow us for more news!
As the UNCCD COP 15 draws near and The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (UNDER) gathers momentum, UNCCD and WOCAT are partnering up on a video series that highlight the central role of sustainable land management (SLM) in restoring and maintaining the health of ecosystems. SLM has a central role in each of the eight UNDER ecosystems – farmlands, grasslands, forests, mountains, freshwaters, urban areas, peatlands, oceans and coasts – by combating land degradation, improving production and securing livelihoods while simultaneously generating multiple environmental co-benefits. While people have directly contributed to ecosystem degradation, they can also be the primary agents of change toward a sustainable land management restoration when armed with knowledge to adopt and upscale SLM. The new video series presents successful practices for each ecosystem, demonstrating how SLM can deliver powerful solutions to ecosystem degradation.