Deputy Minister Thompson led the commemoration of World Day to Combat Desertification

27 June 2014


The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thompson led the commemoration of World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) in Ladybrand, Free State Province, today 27 June 2014. Ms Thompson was accompanied by the Executive Mayor of Manstsopa Local Municipality, Councillor Sello Denis Ntsepe.

WDCD is the United Nations initiative commemorated on 17 June, with the aim to promote public awareness on the issues and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa. This year’s commemoration is under the theme “ecosystem-based adaptation”and the slogan is “Land belongs to the future, let’s climate proof it”, which advocates for action to promote preparedness for negative impacts of climate change and sustaining natural resources and ecosystems.

“It is critical to develop approaches that help the resilience of natural habitat and communities to climate change impacts there by reducing their vulnerability whilst providing multiple benefits and such approaches pertaining to ecosystem-based adaptation. Ecosystem-based adaptation is gaining attention as a cost-effective means of protecting human and ecological communities against the impacts of climate change. Ecosystem based-adaptation is described as building nature’s resilience to the impacts of climate change, while also helping to meet people’s basic needs. Invasive species can threaten those basic needs and compromise ecosystem functions by taking advantage of habitat disturbance, species under stress and other chinks in the armor of otherwise healthy systems,” said Ms Thompson.

South Africa has been conducting extensive awareness programmes and campaigns at both municipal and community levels through workshops and information sessions. The Department of Environmental Affairs,in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is currently funding a project through the Working for Water Programme and Expanded Public Works Programmecalled “Ladybrand Resource Management Project” which occupies 400 hectares of land in Thabo MofutsanyaneDistrict Municipality. The projectis community based aimed at empowering local people to sustainably use their natural resources while conserving them.

Furthermore,the project is also aimed at the prevention of soil erosion and restoration of degraded land and improving its productivity, eradication of alien invasive species as well as research for the development of new ideas and technologies to combat erosion. With the implementation of the project, new ideas and technologies to combat erosion were developed. Free State is one of the provinces in the country that is severely affected by the impacts of land degradation, desertification and the effects of drought and has a significant of rural poverty.

Desertification is land degradation in drylands that affects biological productivity as well as the livelihoods of millions of people. It is caused by a combination of human and natural factors that contribute to an unsustainable use of natural resources which include soil, water, air, vegetation, solar and wind energy.

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