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Greening up against drought in Turkana

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. 

Greening up against drought in Turkana
UNCCD Land Ambassador Ricky Kej wins another Grammy

UNCCD extends heartfelt congratulations to its Land Ambassador, music composer Ricky Kej, who has just received a Grammy Award in the Best New Age Album category for his album "Divine Tides," along with Stewart Copeland. This is the second Grammy win for Ricky, who is a passionate advocate for sustainable development and environment action. In his acceptance speech he shared his dream of the world as one family that is living in peace – within the human species and all entities on this planet: the wildlife, the forests, all the elements of nature – the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we walk on. Ricky himself teaches respect for nature by example, choosing a vegetarian diet, opting to use public transportation instead of owning a car and having his carbon footprint audited quarterly to monitor his environmental footprint and stay on top of his climate goals.  Together with his fellow Ambassador Baaba Maal, Ricky is also the author of the UNCCD Land Anthem, which has been produced in six languages.

UNCCD Land Ambassador Ricky Kej wins another Grammy
Land for Life Award

The Land for Life Programme was launched at the tenth UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP10) in 2011 in the Republic of Korea as part of the Changwon Initiative. The Programme seeks to address the challenges of land degradation, desertification and mitigation of drought. To demonstrate that Land Degradation Neutrality is necessary and achievable, the Land for Life Programme engages in awareness raising and knowledge support. Every two years, the programme presents the Land for Life Award which aims to provide global recognition to individuals and organizations whose work and initiatives have made a significant contribution to sustainable development through sustainable land management.

Land for Life Award
UNCCD celebrates World Soil Day 2021 with children's e-book

This World Soil Day, UNCCD invites you to enjoy the Kids4Land e-book. It is a collection of entries from our recent art competition, where we have invited children from all over the world to share with us their vision of the land they would like to live on in the future. Together with their artwork, the kids also shared some profound messages. Beyond reminding us that we don't inherit our land from our ancestors but rather borrow them from our children, the kids have demonstrated that they ready to care for the future of their planet. "I tried to show what I’d like my future land to look like: a peaceful and united place, with humans and animals living on the land free of pollution and full of natural beauty and resources."" — Shoma from Bangladesh I want the land of the future to be beautiful. There's no drought because it rains everywhere, even in the desert. The rain brings out colorful rainbows, lots of water on the land and plenty of fish. And every child grows healthy and happy." — Hu Qingqing from Singapore "Nature is the most important thing, we have to look after it, we are nature too. We mustn’t forget that our countryside and animals are under threat from pesticides and climate change, we have to care for every part of the planet." — Benjamin Fallow from the UK Together with the German cartoonist Özi, we went through all the pictures and selected the 30 best, representing every region of the world. The finalists were invited to participate in an online master class on how to draw better. UNCCD also sent gifts and a certificate to recognize the top six submissions. Learn more: Download the e-book View the competition album on Flickr

UNCCD celebrates World Soil Day 2021 with children's e-book
The weather alone cannot explain droughts and floods

Communities all over the world have suffered some of the most brutal effects of drought and flooding this year. Flash floods in western Europe, eastern and central Asia and southern African. And catastrophic drought in Australia, southern Africa, southern Asia, much of Latin America, western North America and Siberia are cases in point. The impacts extend well beyond the individual events. For example, the rise in food insecurity in the southern African region and unprecedented wildfires in North America, Europe and Central Asia.   What is going on? This is much more than bad weather in some cases, and is increasingly so. The UNCCD organized an event at COP26, the Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow, United Kingdom, to focus attention on the land-water-climate nexus. The science and policy responses discussed make it clear that human decisions exacerbated by climate change are significantly – and arguably, catastrophically – amplifying the impact of drought and floods.  The discussion encouraged more strategic land use decisions. Decisions that ensure what we do where, and in particular, what we plant where, mitigatesthe impacts of both extremes, be it too much or too little rainfall. It also shed light on how important it is to have healthy soils. Soils that are replete with organic matter will obtain “more crop per drop”, and reduce the risks associated with drought and flooding.  Extreme events, including both droughts and floods are on the rise. With more land projected to be get drier and more and more people living in drylandsin the future, the discussions centered on the shift more than 60 countries are making from “reactive” response to droughts and floods to “proactive” planning and risk management designed to build resilience. Participants from Malawi, Pakistan, Honduras, Grenada and Burkina Faso provided concrete examples of policy alignment and cross-sectorial approaches to implementation. Here is a quick overview of the highlights. Read more:  Land and drought

The weather alone cannot explain droughts and floods
2021 Land for Life Award winner: Familial Forestry

This year's  Land for Life Award goes to Familial Forestry of Rajasthan, India, a unique concept of Shyam Sunder Jyani, Associate Professor for Sociology at in Rajasthan that relates a tree with a family, making it  a green "family member." Placing a family at the cornerstone of society, the concept ensures the success of any social campaign. Familial Forestry means transferring the care of tree and environment in the family so that a tree becomes a part of the family’s consciousness. More than a million families from more than 15,000 villages of desert-prone northwest Rajasthan in over 2.5 million saplings have been planted in the past 15 years, with active participation of students and desert dwellers.  "The journey of desertland Rajasthan towards a lush green Rajasthan has been a dream for me, and Familial Forestry is my dedicated endeavor in this direction." — ShyamSunder Jyani, founder of Familial Forestry. 2021 Land for Life Special Mention  The special nomination has been awarded by the UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw to the Global Landscapes Forum in recognition of the exceptional work as one the world’s largest knowledge-led platforms on sustainable and inclusive landscapes.  "Land degradation and desertification is a multi-faceted problem where single sectoral approaches won’t work. By working together, across sectors and regions we can restore the balance between people, animals, and the environment to sustain productivity in these ecosystems, while supporting the aspirations of the next generation. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with UNCCD to restore and protect the biodiversity and livelihoods of the world’s drylands." — Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research, which leads GLF together in collaboration with co-founders UNEP, World Bank and Charter Members. The Land for Life Award ceremony will take place in August at the Eighth Kubuqi International Desert Forum in China. The award winner will also have an opportunity to present their work at the UNCCD Fifteenth Conference of the Parties UNCCD COP15. Learn more: Land for Life Award Land for Life Programme Familial Forestry Greater Sahel call to fund 5 new GLFx chapters

2021 Land for Life Award winner: Familial Forestry