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Catastrophe sneaks upon us!

The latest article from "Mail&Guardian Africa" from 5 May focused people's attention on one of the most important environmental issues. In Africa, the issue of land degradation (a decline in land quality caused by human activities)and soil fertility decline is deeply complex with intertwining and cyclical causes. These range from poverty, inadequate farming techniques, poor inherent soil qualities to population pressure, to insecure land tenure and climate change, amongst other factors. If these are issues are not addressed the cycle of poor land management will result in higher barriers to food security, agricultural development for smallholder farmers and wider economic growth for Africa.

  • In fact today, the economic loss as a result of land degradation is estimated at $68 billion per year and according to Agriculture for Impact (A4I), an independent advocacy initiative
  • Better land management practices could deliver up to $1.4 trillion globally in increased crop  production –35 times the losses.
  • 34 of Africa's 54 countries reported over 20% in either the amount of land degraded or the amount of population affected by land degradation
  • In more than seven African countries, half their population was affected by land degradation, and in nine countries over half their land area was affected.
  • The countries with the largest percentages of their territories affected were; Swaziland(95.22%), Angola (66.2%), Gabon (64.58%), Zambia (60.41%) and the Congo (58.95).
  • The countries with the highest percentage of their populations affected were; Swaziland(98.77%), Angola (60.74%), Djibouti (59.3%), Congo (54.93%) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (53.49%).

These results show that it is not necessarily high population density that is related to land degradation, but rather what a population does to the land that determines the extent of degradation. Graphic, data and more details from the main source..."Catastrophe sneaks upon us! Shocking statistics reveal African nations that should be on a 'soil watchlist'