Notable desertification setbacks due to policy in many places include agricultural intensification in dry areas and the settlement of nomadic populations, causing disturbance of fragile soil and plant resources and exacerbating salinization. New land tenure systems and economic development in marginal dryland areas have created demographic changes and increased population pressures. Meanwhile, poverty reduction policies seldom address desertification, despite its impact on food security, and emergency drought relief treats only symptoms of desertification, not its causes.
The search for successful new approaches
Innovative policy options to provide the human, financial, technological and institutional resources to cope with the desertification challenge are the major focus of this conference. For example, policies that focus on providing incentives for farmers to adopt land management practices that would enhance productivity while mitigating climate change and improving the environment.
Among several conference presenters is Prof. Rattan Lal of Ohio State University, who says poor developing-country households must switch to clean cooking fuels instead of burning crop residue and animal dung so that soil stops losing valuable sources of nutrients badly needed now to forestall desertification and world hunger. He argues that a global effort to help restore badly-depleted soil resources in developing countries would help:
Produce more food per hectare to help feed burgeoning developing country populations;