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Stories of Global Land Degradation (GLD)

GLD Stories


The Capacity Building Marketplace (CBM) has the pleasure to present the 'Stories of Global Land Degradation (GLD)'. This series presents the final 10 winners from our successful Photo Competition 2018  #CBMPhoto18, determined by you through public voting held over several weeks. 

In this series of GLD stories, each entry features the people behind the pictures, as well as their experiences with Land Degradation and how it has affected them and their communities.

Our objective is to give those people an opportunity to make their stories heard and to raise awareness about an issue that affects everyone of us in one or another way.


We promise you that every entry is worth reading!


The series is displayed in descending order from the 11th until the 1st, :


11. Peter W. Mtakwa - Land Degradation in Kongwa, Tanzania [Tanzania]


>> My name is Peter Wilson Mtakwa, a soil and water conservation expert living in Morogoro, Tanzania. I am an academic member of staff in the Department of Soil and Geological Sciences at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania.

I promote conservation agriculture in Tanzania and beyond through research and capacity building of farmers. I have seen land degradation affect lives severely. I decided to participate in this competition because of the title “Have you been affected by land degradation? Show us how!” I simply wanted to show the world how land degradation has affected me and others in various places in Tanzania.

Clearing of hill sides in the hilly landscape of Tanzania has affected the fertility of low lying land where people farm. For example, in a village near where I grew up, within less than 20 years, where the land used to be prime, it has been denuded to waste land. It has converted a lot of prime land that supported production of maize, tomatoes, red onions, and many other vegetables to unproductive land due to severe soil erosion. As a result, crop yields are severely limited due to fertility decline because of the sand that has covered the one upon a time productive Alfisol. This means that the livelihoods of the people are negatively affected and threatened with food insecurity if the trend continues.

Besides teaching university students and carrying our research, I have made efforts to educate my neighbors to conserve their soil and prevent land degradation. My word to them has always been: “Land degradation is real, never let erosion have a grip on your land”. I always encourage the farmers to think about the kind of tillage to employ in a farm, plant permanent cover strips across their farms e.g. through planting napier grass. Since most of our land degradation is instigated by poor agricultural practices and water erosion, I promote water ways and riparian protection by leaving it uncultivated and planting appropriate tree species. I participate in outreach programmes that enlighten people on hillsides and riparian protection. <<

09. Marlène Kabemba - Erosion de Kindele [DR Congo]


>> Qualified in Socials Communications at Catholic university of Congo in Master Degree’s, I practiced for nearly six years as Project Manager Assistant in Longjin Company one of Telecommunications Subcontractor. There, I have many responsibilities essentially on supporting. This support put me in relation with all process especially with Security, Health environment and quality department.

This department plunged me into good environmental practices that why one day by going to a friend who had given birth, I saw the degradation of the road, one of bit erosion that did not see before. I remembered the Photo Competition on UNCCD CBM & I was stimulated to take pictures for share it in this competition.

My first motivation is mainly because this erosion is done on a road that leads to the most prestigious schools of the Kinshasa in terms of quality of education and especially because of the presence of Biggest Central Africa ‘’Library Saint Peter Canisius’’.

Yes, these photos must be shared around the world so that each Congolese find his responsibility for help to fight this erosion which is one of land degradation form because many vital activities are handicapped. <<

08. Patrick Ken Kalonde - Siziri Bwino [Malawi]


>> Back during my days as an undergraduate student at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, I did a research to assess the performance of models which scientists use to assess soil erosion. This research enabled me to appreciate that soil erosion is real. It also cultivated interest for me to see where other forms of erosion are happening. I was surprised, after leaving college to see that there is a huge gully that has developed about 400 meters from my home. I then discovered that, this is just a tip of an iceberg. There are more gullies within my community. It is around the same period when the CBM photo competition came out. I participated in the competition to share my concern with a broader world so as to contribute to the debate, discussions and conversation in the direction to pursue a sustainable solution for Urban Gullies. <<

07. Sudip Maiti - Land of the Plastics [India]


>> Land degradation is increasingly becoming a major concern for Indian agriculture on which two-third of the population depend for their livelihood. Many policies and programs have been initiated in the last two decades to address this problem but the results are meager. One of the main reasons of land degradation is the non-reusable plastic bags. The chemical structure of most plastics renders them resistant to many natural processes of degradation and as a result they are slow to degrade. The slow biodegradability of plastics makes occupied land unavailable for long periods of time. Plastic debris in landfill also acts as a source for a number of secondary environmental pollutants. Chlorinated plastic can release harmful chemicals into the surrounding soil, which can then seep into groundwater or other surrounding water sources and also the ecosystem. This can cause serious harm to the species that drink the water.

Though photography it is my aim to create awareness about the land degradation and the role of plastics behind it. The only way to combat this monster is to inform general population about the side effects of the plastics and stop wide uses of the plastics before it's too late. <<

06. Ochirvaani Soronzonbold - Biodiversity [Mongolia]


>> I have been studying the field of Natural Science for the past ten years. I successfully graduated from Mongolian National University’s Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in 2008. Since 2013, I have been working as a biologist and bird researcher at the Natural History Museum of Mongolia. 

The image was captured during a survey of birds at Buir Lake in Eastern Mongolia. As shown on there, so many fishes found dead in the tributaries of the lakeside. Main reason of this image may be related with desertification and global warming. Mongolia is one of the extremely weather sensitive countries thus makes Mongolian average temperature increasing faster than other countries. Providing favorable conditions for birds of prey can result in excessive concentration of birds. <<

05. Sofía Garín Martínez - Lanuza [Spain]


>> My name is Sofía Garín Martínez. I come from Zaragoza, Spain, however, I can say that I have spent big time of my childhood and youth in Biescas, a small town in the middle of the Pyrenees and the main reason why I am so enthusiastic about outdoor sports, and therefore, concerned about environment and sustainability. 

I have been living abroad since 2013. Doing Erasmus first in Sweden, and currently living in Copenhagen, where I did my Master’s in Sustainable Design Engineering, and where I am now looking for new professional challenges in the design field.

I am an outdoor enthusiast who loves travelling and being in contact with nature. Since I am a kid I have been seeing how global warming and land degradation are affecting the area I grew up, the area that made me fall in love with nature. My passion for travelling and improving the world we live in made me participate in various international projects with NGOs in Nepal and Peru. Design clean cooking stoves or wind turbines.

When travelling in South America, everybody was talking about how all the glaciers are now almost gone, how people had to move entire towns due to land degradation. It was actually very impressive to see the before and after in pictures, and hear people's stories.

When I came back from my trip in Peru and Patagonia, I went to the Pyrenees and I could see people enjoying the ski resorts while the swamp and lakes were completely empty. How is that possible? How can we increase awareness? Trying to answer those questions I decided to take the picture I presented for the contest and share it with my network. People say that a picture is worth thousand words. I had many pictures showing glaciers in Patagonia, or in the Andes, but I have only met those places as they are now, whereas I have been growing up and spending my summers having baths in the lake of my picture, or doing stand-up paddling, and now seeing it almost empty made me really think about how we are treating this world. As some people say, there is no planet B, and it seems that some people still believe that global warming is not true and that we can't stop nature of being what it is. However, I want to believe that some others are taking responsibility, think of sustainable water and food consumption, and believe in renewable resources, trying as well to live reducing their footprint. <<

04. Avijit Ghosh - Future without Green [India]


>> I am Avijit Ghosh, a Social Work and Community Service student and a hobby photographer. My photograph depicts a concept, what we are leaving for our future generation, how degradation and desertification will effect that. When I saw this UNCCD contest, I knew it was the best way to spread awareness how land degradation and desertification effecting us now and how it could effect us in the future. How farmers are losing their land, rural people are suffering from insufficiency of water, our future generations are under thread. The only way to change that future is saving our trees. Integrating land and water management plannings could also play a key role to change that scenario. <<

03. Mylene Tiondo - Child Labor Lanczos [Philippines]


>> Child labor is a very rampant issue in the Philippines, especially child exploitation in all aspects of workforce, be it labor, construction and more specifically in agriculture where young kids live. Kids in Bacolod City are forced to work at a very young age for early living considering that Bacolod City is a large exporter of sugarcane, maize and corn internationally. However, the most serious issue that these young kids and their families experience is the land degradation which deteriorates their harvest. Including typhoons, which large territories are affected from. 
Awareness to land degradation is a very important matter that everyone has to know about. Land degradation could greatly impact casualties, most importantly the living of the people since these lands are their source of income. <<

02. Prince Loyd Besorio - Resiliency [Philippines]


>> Agriculture is among the primary significant and primary sectors in the Philippines specifically rice production. Rice farmers, regardless of farmland ownership, rely on the growth and good climate condition for the bountiful harvest of rice. As early as January until May, El Niño starts to strikes areas especially in Luzon where it causes so much dilemma including fertilization of insects, drought and land degradation. Filipinos are known to be 'resilient'. However, this mere Filipino reputation being 'resilient' would not save Filipino lives especially the farmers who primary produces the Filipino staple food. In addition, the country's economy condition relies on the good performance of rice exports locally and internationally. As a solution, the farmers must be fully informed and must be aware about the possible effects of land degradation through programs. <<

01. Ghaamid Abdulbasat Hatibu - Land Degradation, a Threat to Sustainable Future [Tanzania]


>> I've seen that climate change has become a great threat to humanity, and in reality we need a better plan on how to adopt and mitigate it. So I decided to join environmental conservation movements in raising awareness to the communities on issues of sustainable land use, proper waste disposal, pollution reduction & control, land degradation & desertification and on the Impacts of climate change, its adoption and mitigation. One of the movements that I've started is a video series known as the GM Climate Series which is one of my movements in raising awareness on desertification as a causal agent of climate change and on how it affects food security, water accessibility and sustainable development. I hereby call upon humanity to conserve our planet earth and respect Mother Nature and to make it a better place to live and enjoy its beauty for the current and the future generations as well! <<