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What’s in news?

June 17, is being celebrated as World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought annually.

Key data’s:

  • Desertification, land degradation and drought are major threats affecting millions of people worldwide particularly women and children.
  • Annually, June 17 is celebrated as “World day to Combat Desertification & drought” that remind people in the world that land degradation neutrality can be achieved when there will be cooperation at all levels, strong involvement of the community and problem-solving.
  • Theme 2019 – “Let’s Grow the Future Together”.
  • It is time to “urgently” change such trends, adding that protecting and restoring land can “reduce forced migration, improve food security and spur economic growth”, as well as helping to address the “global climate emergency”.
  • There are only three things all people need to know about the World Day to Combat Desertification:
    • It isn’t just about sand,
    • It isn’t an isolated issue that will quietly disappear; and
    • It isn’t someone else’s problem
  • According to the State of India’s Environment (SoE) 2019, India has witnessed increase in the level of desertification in 26 of 29 states between 2003-05 and 2011-13. 
  • Highest increase in land degradation was observed in Lunglei district of Mizoram.
  • Other districts with more than two per cent increase in land degradation are: Aizawl (Mizoram), South Tripura (Tripura), Kathua (Jammu Kashmir), Bhiwani (Haryana), Kokrajhar (Assam), Hailakandi (Assam) and Tirap (Arunachal Pradesh).
  • Twenty-one drought-prone districts, of the 78 in the country that were identified by the Indian Space Research Organisation, have more than half of their areas under desertification. Of these nine have also witnessed over two per cent increase in the area under desertification between 2003-05 and 2011-13.
  • India was the signatory to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Paris on June 17, 1994. 
  • While the country had committed to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030, it witnessed an increase of 1.87 million hectares undergoing process of desertification between 2003-05 and 2011-13.
  • Main reasons that cause desertification in India are:
    • Water erosion (10.98 per cent)
    • Wind erosion (5.55 per cent)
    • Human-made/settlements (0.69 per cent)
    • Vegetation degradation (8.91 per cent)
    • Salinity (1.12 per cent)
    • Others (2.07 per cent)
  • According to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report 2018, funds allocated for utilization for implementing drinking water schemes under the DDP areas remained unutilized since 2012.


  • Desertification does not refer to the expansion of deserts, but rather the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, primarily as a result of human activities and climatic variations.
  • It happens areas of dry land are extremely vulnerable to over-exploitation and inappropriate land use.
  • Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land.


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