Although they are among the population most affected by desertification and drought, women play a vital role in the health of the land, said Abderrahim Houmy, director general of the National Agency for Water and Forests.
On the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, placed this year under the theme “Woman, Her Land, Her Rights”, theNational Agency for Water and Forests (ANEF) and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in partnership with the French Development Agency and UN Women organized, on June 15, 2023 in Salé, a meeting celebrating the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.
In his opening address, ANEF Director General, Abderrahim Houmy, explained that the choice of this theme for the celebration of this day shows that women play a vital role in the health of the land. Several experiences around the world also show that women are the most affected when land degrades and water becomes scarce.
” Their role in land management is essential and often underestimated. They participate strongly in the preservation and sustainable management of land, particularly in areas affected by desertification. “, he said, pointing out that thThey are often responsible for food production, family farming and animal husbandry and are also involved in the management of natural resources such as water, forests and rangelands.
It is also important to note that women play a key role in the preservation of biodiversity, continues Houmy, specifying that their precious traditional knowledge and their know-how, transmitted to the following generations, contribute to maintaining the genetic diversity of cultures. They are also and often, through their involvement in local organizations and cooperatives, real agents of change within their communities.
” It is for all these reasons that it is essential to recognise, value and strengthen the role of women in land management. Their economic empowerment, access to land and resources, and equal participation in environmental decisions are key factors in combating desertification and promoting a sustainable future. “, argues the DG of the ANEF.
As for the celebration of this day, Houmy specifies that each year it constitutes an important occasion for informing and sensitizing the general public on the problem of desertification and the efforts undertaken to stop this phenomenon and limit its negative effects, while highlighting the need for collective and large-scale mobilization to reverse the trend of this phenomenon and reduce its scale.
According to the official, the rate of land degradation is increasing, threatening agricultural productivity, food security and biodiversity in many parts of the world. Indeed, nearly 12 million hectares are degraded each year under the effect of drought and desertification, resulting in financial losses of nearly 42 billion dollars. This degradation thus constitutes one of the major environmental challenges of our time.
This scourge threatens a third of the surface area of land surface, or more than 4 billion hectares, and could affect the livelihoods of around 1.2 billion people, or 20% of the world’s population.
It is also important to remember that the phenomenon of drought is increasing in terms of frequency, intensity and above all in extent, thus leading to considerable socio-economic impacts by undermining food security. and water causing problems of migration, conflict and insecurity.
Estimates show that over the past 20 years, recurrent and prolonged droughts have affected more than 1.5 billion people and caused more than US$124 billion in economic losses worldwide, he said. added.
In addition, this meeting was marked by the signing of a cooperation agreement between ANEF, AFD in Morocco and UN Women-Morocco which aims to promote the economic empowerment of women and equality between women and men. The aim is to overcome gender barriers in the areas of sustainable natural resource management and land restoration.