KEY instruments such as the National Action Programmes (NAPs) tasked with implementing the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification are too slow to address land degradation and the effects it has on communities.
The deputy co-ordinator of the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA), Victoria Haraseb, raised this concern on behalf of civil society organisations (CSOs) during the opening of the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) here on Monday.
"We are sad to report that in spite of decisions and initiatives by the Parties to the Convention, land degradation and its impact continue to worsen in the communities.
To put it bluntly, the implementation of decision, plans and initiatives are slow on the ground," she charged.
NAPs are developed through a participatory approach involving various stakeholders, including relevant government offices, scientific institutions and local communities.
They spell out the practical steps and measures to be taken to combat desertification in specific ecosystems.
The UNCCD urges affected country parties to align their action programmes, as well as other relevant implementation activities related to the Convention, to the UNCCD's 10-year strategy.
Many affected countries have started the process of aligning their NAPs, while the alignment of the sub-regional and regional action programmes has also been initiated.
This is the fifth year that the UNCCD strategy (2008 to 2018) is being implemented, but Haraseb expressed concern that there is not enough tangible progress visible in the first strategic objective, which is to improve the livelihoods of affected communities.
She said over the years, CSOs have repeatedly drawn the attention of COPs and other inter-sectional meetings of the Convention to a number of actions like agro-businesses, agro-fuels, land-grabbing and mining activities, which she said are contributing to land degradation.
It is, therefore, the expectation that COP11 will take steps to address the mentioned unsustainable actions in the Convention process if the UNCCD wants to make any positive impact towards its objectives.
She furthermore called for an increase in CSOs' involvement in national co-ordinating bodies to facilitate their participation in the process of the alignment of NAPs.