Desertification occurs in drylands,which span a third of the earth’s land surface in over 110 countries. It influences the lives of about 500 000 people -- the so-called environmental refugees -- including many of the world ’s poorest and most marginalized populations. Each year 12 million hectares are lost to deserts. That is enough land to grow 20 million tonnes of grain.
Land degradation,in turn,threatens the livelihoods of a billion of earth ’s inhabitants. Degradation caused by overcultivation, overgrazing, deforestation and inefficient irrigation affects an estimated 20%of the world ’s drylands, an area as large as China.
Combating desertification,and land degradation more generally, is a war that can be lost, but must be won. Desertification is often the result of human activity and can therefore be prevented or controlled by human effort. Because of its magnitude, desertification is a global issue, and as such can only be addressed through a global partnership. This brochure is about the formation of such a partnership between the Global Environment Facility (GEF)and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).