Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why Odisha should be worried about the latest UNCCD publication on Desertification!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

A just published report from the UNCCD brings to us a fresh note on the global crisis being unleashed by the increasing land degradation process leading to desertification. 

Titled "Desertification - The Invisible Frontline" examines desertification as a cause of global conflict and instability and calls for urgent action to support communities in crisis. You can download this publication at 

More than 1.5 billion people in the world depend on degrading land, and 74% of them are poor. As the effects of climate change undermine livelihoods, inter-ethnic clashes are breaking out within and across states and fragile states are turning to militarization to control the situation. 

The effects of desertification are increasingly felt globally as victims turn into refugees, internally displaced people and forced migrants or they turn to radicalization, extremism or resource-driven wars for survival. 

If we are to restore peace, security and international stability in a context where changing weather events are threatening the livelihoods of more and more people, then more should be done to combat desertification, reverse land degradation and mitigate the effects of drought. 

Otherwise, many small-scale farmers and poor, land-dependent communities face two choices: fight or flight. 

Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) has been raising alarm bells on the desertification process in the state of Odisha since long.  In fact just about seven years ago we had predicted, how Odisha is fast turning into a desert and the process would take just 150 years!  

In predicting such, we did a simple analysis of government statistics to say how a desert climate is being induced by faulty policies of the government that promotes indiscriminate industrialization leading to rampant destruction of forests, fast degradation of land and rapid decay of water resources.  

Odisha is already witnessing droughts, forced migration and food insecurity among the poor sections.  Conflicts over resources are taking enormous proportions and there doesn't seem to be an end to marginalization of the communities primarily dependent of local natural resources.  

Other species and the ecology at large are at a great loss and fighting a losing battle for survival.

Time we take a cue from such reports and initiate ecologically enriching measures of development rather than going for development that just destroys the ecology.  Or else, the desertification process would get much faster that what we project.

We are hopeful of your attention and action in this regard.

Thanks and regards,


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