It is currently estimated that some two thirds of the world's undernourished people live in the rural areas of poor countries, many of which are drylands. Some 70% of the world's dry lands are affected by degradation to a greater or lesser extent.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) highlights the importance of both scientific and community approaches to land degradation. The UNCCD promotes action to combat desertification through both local programmes and academic partnerships. All parties commit to implement national and regional programmes that use bottom-up approaches. Actions must emphasize public participation to enable local people and NGOs to reverse land degradation through self-help.
Western science has traditionally played a key role in determining the extent of land degradation. Local populations however are increasingly seen as agents who can recognise degradation and develop innovative ways of coping and adapting to environmental change. This has led the DESIRE partners to develop an approach that combines science with relevance and sensitivity to local perspectives and context.
Land degradation around the world affects more than 250 million people. The DESIRE project is working to fight land degradation. It brings together 28 research institutes, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and policy-makers from around the world.
The aim of the project is to come up with alternative strategies for sustainable use and protection of these vulnerable areas. 18 Hotspots around the world will be the 'global laboratory' for researchers to apply both tested conservation and remediation techniques. Ultimately, the DESIRE project should lead to practical guidelines for responsible land use.
ROLE OF BOTH ENDS
Both ENDS and CARI occupy a crucial position within DESIRE, because they are the only NGOs. One of DESIRE's goals is "using a participatory approach with stakeholder groups". The main task of Both ENDS and CARI is to facilitate the dialogue between the local land users and other stakeholders, and the scientists of DESIRE. As NGOs, they have a different starting point working with local land users in their context. Both ENDS and CARI enable them to advice the DESIRE partners about the best methods for interaction with stakeholders.
At the same time, local land users and stakeholders are not always aware of, or capable of using the many scientific results presently available. Part of the problem is the lack of dialogue or "translation" between "the two worlds". Therefore Both ENDS and CARI also play a role in translating scientific jargon into language that local land users understand.
BOTH ENDS CONTACTPERSONS
Marie José van der Werff ten Bosch project leader