17 June 2019

South Africa: MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube On World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

press release

EDTEA MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube calls for more care of the land as the world observed World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube has expressed great concern at the rapid rate in which soil erosion and loss of agricultural land is going.

Dube-Ncube was speaking on the sidelines of the KZN Cabinet Lekgotla currently underway as the world observes World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels.

Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations.

"Today, 17 June is the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. The Day is observed every year since 1994 as declared by the United Nations to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification.

In 2019, the World day to combat degradation and drought will be commemorated under the theme: Let's grow the future together", she said.

Dube-Ncube said South Africa has not escaped this phenomenon.

"As we speak we are battling soil erosion, loss of agricultural land. The Department has a programme which contributes to combating land degradation. The name of the programme is: Invasive Alien Species Programme and we have employed a number of people through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in support of Job creation and skills transfer," she said.

According to the National Action Programme for South Africa to combat desertification, land degradation and the effects of drought: "Globally desertification affects approximately 70% of drylands, and 73% of agricultural lands are degraded. Both desertification and land degradation are linked to food security, poverty, urbanization, climate change and biodiversity and are amongst the most critical environmental challenges.

Furthermore, Land is important for producing food and providing ecosystem goods and services such as freshwater, clean air and raw building materials such as timber and sand. In addition 80% of land in South Africa is used for Agriculture and Sustainable livelihoods. 11% of this has arable potential.

"There is a lot that we can do to prevent more desertification. We need to restore, rehabilitate and conserve degraded land and soil. We must promote the use and development of sustainable agriculture that preserves and restores critical habitats, helps protect water sheds and improve the health of soil and water," said Dube-Ncube.

Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs

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