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Sand & dust storms

sand and dust storms

One of the most intimidating sights in nature are rolling dark clouds of sand and dust that engulf everything in their path, a phenomenon that turns day into night and wreaks havoc everywhere from Northern China to sub-Saharan Africa. ​

​Sand and dust storms are unfortunately becoming increasingly common in many parts of the world. Studies show that sand and dust storms negatively impact:​

  • agriculture​
  • human health​
  • industry​
  • transport​
  • water and air quality​

At least 25 per cent of global dust emissions originate from human activities, and in some areas, desert dust has doubled in the 20th century. ​The impact of this phenomena is difficult to control, as human activity in one part of the world can cause sand and dust storms in another region. However, just as sand and dust storm is caused by human activities these storms can also be reduced through human actions. ​

UNCCD is at the centre of these actions. We help governments to create policies to promote the scaling-up of sustainable land management practices and to find and use the latest science to develop and implement effective mitigation policies.​ We assist UNCCD parties affected by SDS by helping them adopt sustainable land management techniques.​

For example, working with The Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia,  we assist  countries vulnerable to drought and sand and dust storms in Central Asia to develop and implement risk reduction strategies  at national and regional level. ​We encourage countries to adopt a comprehensive risk reduction strategy with monitoring and early warning systems to improve preparedness and resilience to these environmental disasters.​

UNCCD is working in a coalition of 19 Members (CBD, ESCAP, ESCWA, FAO, ICAO, ITU, IUCN, UNCCD, UNDESA, UNDP, UNDRR, UNECE, UNEP, UNFCCC, UN-Habitat, UNITAR, WHO, WMO, World Bank) to provide and build the knowledge pool and expertise countries need to work together to solve these challenges.   ​

The aim of the Compendium is to provide information and guidance on how to assess and address the risks posed by sand and dust storms and plan actions to combat sand and dust storms. The Compendium brings together information and guidance from a wide range of sources…


million people around the world, including 14% of the world's children are affected by sand and dust storms

25 to 50%​

of global dust emissions originate from human activities​


SDS Toolbox

The Sand and Dust Storm Toolbox provides a comprehensive package of tools and approaches and guidance for understanding and addressing the impacts of sand and dust storms.

Access the toolbox

It is a revised, upgraded and improved version of Good Practice Guidance issued in 2017. The new version is more advanced in the analytical methods for calculating SDG Indicator 15.3.1, and reflects current best practice, data and knowledge. The purpose of the Guidance…

This Good Practice Guidance on Strategic Objective Three, to mitigate, adapt to, and manage the effects of drought in order to enhance resilience of vulnerable populations and ecosystems, was prepared to support Parties to report on the progress made towards Strategic…