News / 22 April 2009

27 May POLITICAL CAFÉ: on Desertification and Sustainable Land Use

A large part of earth's surface is covered by dry areas: some 40%, in fact, and over two thirds of Africa. Most of the poorest people on earth, some 70% of the undernourished - over 600 million people - live in these areas. Funding and initiatives to fight desertification and other forms of land degradation and to improve food productivity are of vital importance. However, there seems to be no urgency to do so within the international development cooperation world.


International support for the eradication of extreme hunger and poverty (Millennium Development Goal 1) seems to focus mainly on expensive top-down initiatives, such as 'Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa' (AGRA). AGRA and similar programmes make expensive 'investments', such as loans, fertiliser and seed available. However, these investments only reach a fraction of the rural community and increase the dependence of small African farmers.


Meanwhile, local communities in dry areas have been developing innovative and sustainable methods to repair the damage to soil and vegetation, prevent erosion and to increase land productivity. These farmer-led initiatives often prove successful because these methods are already used locally and spread between farmers by word of mouth. African governments have become increasingly interested in these local initiatives, but funding from the donor community is still lacking.


This Café will focus on the question of how international cooperation, from the Netherlands and the European Union, can support these locally driven initiatives for positive change. Examples such as 'Regreening the Sahel Initiative' and the sustainable production of rooibos tea in dry parts of South Africa, illustrate the debate.


Talk, drink and share your ideas in our Political Café 'Mijn Natje en Mijn Droogje' with:


  • Mamadou Goita, Social Economist and Director of IRPAD/Afrique, Mali;
  • Noel Oettle, Project manager Environmental Monitoring Group, South Africa;
  • Chris Reij, Social Geographer Centre for International Studies, VU University;
  • Judith Sargentini, Party Leader European Parliament GroenLinks;
  • Louk de la Rive Box, Rector Institute of Social Studies.

Wednesday 27 May 2009 - 17.30 - 19.30 hour - Nutshuis, Riviervismarkt 5, The Hague.
For the official invitation click here.
For the route description to the Nutshuis click here (only in Dutch).


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