SENEGAL: World Bank news release on desertification 1998.12.4

SENEGAL: World Bank news release on desertification 1998.12.4

SENEGAL: World Bank news release on desert control

Of the earthís surface, 41 percent of the total land area is being eaten up by ever-expanding, arid deserts, affecting more than 900 million people in 100 countries, some of them among the least-developed in the world. According to a new World Bank report, New Opportunities for Development: The Desertification Convention, desertification can be tackled only by fostering broad economic and social changes directed at its underlying causes. The report is being released to coincide with the Second Conference of the Parties for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, taking place in Dakar, Senegal, starting November 30 and running through December 11. "Addressing desertification is essential for poverty reduction and food security in developing countries," says World Bank Vice President for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Ian Johnson. The Bankís report explores the fact that desertification is not just a physical phenomenon. In addition to the inherent ecological fragility of dryland areas, these regions have experienced exceptionally high population growth, which has increased demand for land and has led to migration to new lands that have no capacity to meet the influx. The report points out that this dryland phenomenon is also caused by inappropriate economic policies that undervalue natural resources and encourage misuse. In addition, desertification is a result of poor project design with little understanding of the socioeconomic conditions of the population and the dynamics and sustainability of the natural resource base. Annual world-wide economic loss due to desertification is estimated at $42.3 billion. During 1990-98, the Bank financed 159 projects that aim to improve natural resource management in dryland areas. World Bank financing totaled $9 billion and leveraged an additional $9 billion, resulting in a total dryland investment portfolio exceeding $18 billion. Although the World Bank is not a signatory to the Convention, as a member of the international development community it cooperates in its implementation. The report expands on the series of steps the World Bank is taking to assist the ratifying countries in fulfilling their obligations under the Convention. These steps include: Mainstreaming environmental issues in the country assistance strategies; Maintaining an active program of lending for development in dryland areas; Increasing the emphasis in our rural development activities on sustainable agricultural systems and dryland management; Supporting the management and dissemination of relevant knowledge derived from these efforts; Developing mechanisms to exploit synergies between the conventions and programs; and Developing partnerships, most obviously with international agencies and with bilateral agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and other organizations of civil society.


Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 12:10:26 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: SENEGAL: World Bank news release on desertification 1998.12.4

Editor: Ali B. Dinar,