UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference
Economic assessment of desertification, sustainable land management and resilience of arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas
04 - 07 February 2013 - Fortaleza, Brazil
conditions which lead to the extraction of surpluses from the land managers, forcing them in turn to extract from the land more than issustainable. Such conditions are: heavy tax and tribute; very low wages; denial of access to CPR; low commodity prices due to state pricing policies or market distortions; farmer's indebtedness; and so on. In this context, population factors appear both as part of the basic conditions within which the socio-economic system operates(population density with regard to resources) and of the forces which affect its patterns of change (population growth, urbanization,migration): density is relevant to the level of direct pressure on resources; population growth and urbanization affect the volume of market demands; urbanization absorbs land, and is conducive to biased pricing policies; a large and growing rural labour forcecontributes to low wages; excess demand for access to CPRs may lead to shut out part of the population
1.3 International demand:
This demonstrates that for the past 17 years there has been little change except for some additional contributory factors, importantly land
abandonment due to economic migration to cities and the reversal of the then perceived „growing rural labour
force‟. Although this
extract does identify that it is not simply one factor but a cascade and complex set of physical and social factors that is generating a fastand potentially uncontrollable decline of the rural sustainability. One further factor needs to be added, the evolvement
of the „Super
governing enormous control of dictated prices and production expectations, often beyond the ability and capacity of theaverage farmer, who are often squeezed out of the supply chain or indeed forced to supply at near cost in order to compete and maintain aregular or any outlet for their produce. The large international super market chains now have their produce acquisition tentacles even intothe remotest of regions, initially exciting for isolated farmers, but soon to be realised as virtually creating an onerous inescapable serfdomupon their own land.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has a long term interest in migration issues as migration processesare closely related to agriculture and rural development, food security, and natural resource management, for which FAO has amandate within the United Nations system. FAO is aware of the migration-development nexus and strategically works to maximise positive impacts of migration, particularly in rural areas, fostering rural-urban linkages, advocating for a better management of rurallabour mobility and identifying good practices. The ultimate goal is to enhance country capacity and policy coherence to reduce distressmigration and promote gainful migration patterns to improve food security in sending and receiving countries. Migration is part of livelihood strategies through which rural households diversify their assets and activities in different locations, thus reducing risks and vulnerabilities. Food insecurity and high food prices have been reported, in countries like Nepal and Yemen, as one of the causes of increased migration for work, especially among rural households (Compton et al. 2010). In general, limited employment opportunities at home are the main reason for people to migrate. Rural out-migration is often internal, as poor people lack the financial resources and skills to migrate internationally. In the world, thereare about 740 million internal migrants, compared to 214 million international migrants (UNDP 2009). It is also acknowledged that international and internal movements are closely linked, even if these linkages have not sufficiently been explored. Among internationalmigrants, half of them move within the same region and nearly 40 per cent to neighbouring countries. Many migrants are very young: indeveloping countries a third of total migrants are aged 12 to 24 year (World Bank 2006).
1.5 The need to support Rural communities:
The pressures upon unsupported rural communities and farmers is multi directional with pressures from climate change, environmentalchange, the children
s increased aspirations through the media and education, improved income opportunities within developing townsand cities and pressures to produce crops at more competitive prices, especially within rich raw material producing countries able tosubsidise imports. The Climate Institute
identify one direction of the social circle impact……………
The degradation of land can result in the reduction of livestock forage, availability of fuel wood material, biodiversity,water availability and yields of farmland. The loss of land resources can increase the spread of poverty and hunger. Migration in search for food and relief and environmental refugees can pose pressure on neighbourhood areas and cause enormous social problems
In the other direction of the social circle impact beyond the migration in
search of food
, is the modern
searchingfor improved lifestyle
over and above what the land can offer, even when fertile. Managing the land is hard work, with long hours andlittle opportunity for ambition or potential of wealth. The young people with access to media and education are enticed by the greateropportunities within the cities and towns, offering better incomes with improved social and working conditions. Rural populationsdecrease, resulting in more land being managed by fewer people, culminating especially within arid or marginal regions, with landabandonment, which in turn reduces irrigation, depletes the vegetation, loosening soil structure, allowing winds to uplift and transfer thesand and dust, removing its fertility by loss of nutrients, consequently degradating the land in a diminishing cycle.
1.6 Water Resource to farmers:
Next is the challenge of the
most basic resource, whether for arable or animal farming, Water.
“The Water Resources Group addresses one of the most
important and urgent issues today. The biggest part of freshwater withdrawn isbeing used for agriculture. If we continue overusing this valuable and scarce resource the way we do today, a major food crisis will
Peter Brabeck-Letmathe: Chairman of the Water Resources Group]
It is established that 97.5% of all water on Earth is salt water, leaving only 2.5% as fresh water . Nearly 70% of that fresh water is frozenin the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland; most of the remainder is present as soil moisture, or lies in deep underground aquifers asgroundwater not accessible to human use. Less than 1% of the world's fresh water (approximately 0.007% of all water on earth) isaccessible for direct human uses. This is the water found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and those underground sources that are shallowenough to be tapped at an affordable cost. Only this amount is regularly renewed by rain and snowfall, and is therefore available on asustainable basis.
[Human Appropriation of the World's Fresh Water Supply]