Today 70% of the victims of serious and permanent undernourishment – an estimated 600 million people – live in semi-arid and arid ecosystems or “drylands”. Examples of drylands are deserts, grasslands and savannahs, which currently cover 41% of the global land area.
Natural resources, cultivation and livestock-rearing remain centrally important to the economies and livelihoods of the majority of people who live in drylands. In most countries with drylands these activities account for 30–50% of the Gross Domestic Product and are a major source of income and livelihood for 70–80% of the population.
Healthy ecosystems, land and natural resources are therefore critical for dryland populations. However, some 70% of the world’s drylands are affected by degradation. Countering dryland degradation or ‘desertification’ makes a considerable contribution to poverty alleviation and the eradication of hunger world-wide.
In order to contribute to countering dryland degradation, 14 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from all over the world joined forces in 2007 to form the Drynet network. Drynet understands that to effectively counter degradation, local organisations and communities living in drylands should be at the heart of the effort. Unfortunately, their involvement in the national and international arenas of decision-making is often very marginal. By directly linking with local groups and engaging them in broader debates, Drynet seeks to redress the current imbalance.
Over the years Drynet has proven its worth as an organising force in the processes of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and in many other forums. In addition to on-going contributions by the members, the Network’s activities have also been supported by a number of donors:
The European Commission and the Global Mechanism funded a three-year networking and capacity building initiative aimed to strengthen the voices of local dryland communities through their organisations and the project partners themselves.
The Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) subsequently funded a three-year programme of action of Drynet between 2011 and 2014.
By involving civil society groups in local and national development and planning processes, Drynet has successfully build a foundation for civil society across the world to strengthen its position in the struggle to sustainably manage drylands.
Drynet is currently a self-funded network that shares information, develops common positions of civil society organisations on issues relating to sustainable livelihoods and land use in the drylands and engages in the international discourse via the UNCCD the UNFCCC and other MEAs. Drynet also supports the development and implementation OF projects undertaken by some of its members.