BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU
ARUA: Friday, May 28, 2021
At least 50 African environment journalists have been assembled to cover the forthcoming Global Landscape Forum for Africa, an online event scheduled to take place from June 2-3, 2021.
The Climate Tracker, a non-profit organization specialized in training and supporting journalism to foster better climate reporting arranged a two-week preparatory training for the journalists drawn from 23 countries on the continent.
The refresher focused on retooling journalists with the best practices for field reporting, investigative journalism, and analysis of dry-land stories in Africa as well as thematic sessions in which experts explained the magnitude of dry-land degradation and made the case for restoration.
Almost half of Africa’s land surface is dry-land harboring productive farmlands and range lands with rich biodiversity and home to more than 525 million people according to the Food and Agriculture organization.
However severe land degradation in Africa’s dry-lands is causing extreme weathers and presenting survival problems to African people, Mohamoudou Salima, a research associate at the World Resource Institute told the journalists.
Estimating that degradation from poor agricultural practices have led to 4.4 tons of silt deposited in the rivers, she said this has resulted into extreme flooding events.
“The environmental impact of degradation is important but the impact on people is even severer. Rural urban migration, growing conflicts between crop farmers, grazers and hunters, land fragmentation…people are losing hope,” she pointed out.
Responding to the grim picture, Jonathan Davies, Global coordinator for the dry-lands initiative who also leads the global agriculture proagramme at the International Union of Conservation of Nature said there still exist opportunities for restoration of Africa’s dry-lands.
He cited the example of farmer managed natural regeneration approach used in Ghana and advised that such efforts to restore degraded lands should start with negotiations with all stakeholders including the land users.
Davies emphasized the socio-economic and financial value of restoration reasoning that “every dollar invested in restoration yields five dollars in return.”
In the same vein, Birguy Diallo of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification urged Africans to promote and embrace the “great green wall,” that she described as an Africa initiative by African for the African.
“The great green wall is not only about planting trees to halt the southward expansion of the desert but an evolutionary concept that has to-date resulted into creation of 350,000 jobs, USD$90 million income, 20 million trees planted and 10 million people trained through capacity building,” she elaborated.
Diallo said in line with the UN Decade on Ecosystem restoration starting this year, the aim is to restore 100 million hectares of Africa’s degraded landscape by 2030, benefiting 300 people and allowing sequestration of 250 tons of carbon in the process.
Different African countries have initiated different programmes to restore degraded landscapes, hence the Global Landscape Forum to discuss the existing practices and identify ways of up-scaling them.
Under the theme: “restoring Africa’s dry-lands,” the virtual conference aims to bring together 5,000 participants including farmers’ organizations, community leaders, indigenous people, researchers, policymakers, financial investors, civil society organizations, youth groups, private sector, conservation organizations as well as global and African media.
The journalists will be joined by 16 social media ambassadors spread across Africa from Senegal to Tanzania.
In Uganda, the Kigezi News Agency will cover the forum through its network of websites including www.westniletodaynews.com, www.kigezinews.com, www.northernugandanews.com, www.karamojanews.com and www.langonews.com.