‘The Drylands Advantage: Protecting the environment, empowering people’ is a new report by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) that reveals the crucial role the world’s drylands play in buffering the negative impacts of climate change, land degradation and drought.
Present in each continent and covering over 40 per cent of the earth, drylands generally refer to arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, and are home to more than 2 billion people. Drylands also hold up to 44 per cent of the world’s cultivated agricultural systems.
The report, shows how drylands support important ecosystems and a great variety of biodiversity, as well as their vital role in the livelihoods and cultural identity of many Smallholders.
According to the report, drylands are under threat across the world. Despite their importance, drylands are being degraded through a complex combination of climatic (e.g. decreasing rainfall and evaporation of water) and human stresses, such as unsustainable farming techniques, mining and overgrazing. Water scarcity is increasing, and in many areas, desertification is expanding with serious human and environmental consequences.
Through combinations of resting land, limiting grazing, reseeding, planting shrubs, promoting indigenous species, improved irrigation and soil banks, IFAD-supported projects are helping smallholders thrive in drylands, as well as contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals under the 2030 Agenda.