Meeting in Dakar looks at country progress in the battle against desertification

Governments of some 150 countries met in Dakar to share progress reports on national and international efforts to stop the process of desertification that threatens much of the world's arid regions. The second session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was held in Senegal from 30 November to 11 December.

A small flock of sheep on badly overgrazed land in Syria
FAO/19123/R. Faidutti

Desertification - the degradation of the world's fragile drylands - directly affects over 250 million people in the world, and 1 billion more are reported to be at risk. Most of these are among the world's poorest people living in some of the most vulnerable areas of the globe. "The fight against desertification and the struggle against malnutrition are one and the same battle," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

The UNCCD, which grew out of the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, was adopted in 1994. At the first meeting of parties, at FAO headquarters in Rome, November 1997, countries were asked to take actions - with the full participation of local communities directly affected - to fight land degradation and reduce the effects of drought. Developed countries and donor agencies were requested to support these efforts with financial and technical aid.

Oral statements on national progress delivered at the Dakar meeting will be submitted in written form for discussion at the next meeting of the Conference, scheduled for the second half of 1999. Through this reporting system key trends will be identified so that national and international efforts can be better focused on the highest priorities in the fight against desertification.

15 December 1998

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