« back 17 June: Desertification & Drought Day

UNCCD World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
Key messages 2022:
  • Droughts have always been a part of nature and the human experience, but are now much worse largely due to human activity.
  • Hardly any country is immune to drought, but all countries can prepare better to tackle drought effectively.
  • Tools are available to assess drought risk. Solutions exist to ensure lives and livelihoods are no longer lost to drought.
  • Everyone can take actions that increase our collective resilience because every action counts.

Droughts have always been part of human and natural systems, but what we are experiencing now is much worse largely due to human activity. Drought is not just the absence of rain; it is often fuelled by land degradation and climate change, further exacerbated by overexploitation of available water resources. As a result, droughts are increasing in frequency and severity, up 29 % since 2000, with 55 million people affected every year. Food and water shortages as well as wildfires caused by severe droughts have all intensified in recent years. By 2050, three quarters of the world’s population and half of global grain production will be exposed to severe water scarcity. Women and indigenous communities will be especially vulnerable during drought.

It’s a global and urgent issue. But together we can overcome its devastating effects on people and nature around the world and start preparing now to drought-proof our future. Action can be taken at all levels, from citizens, businesses, governments and UN partners, everyone can come on board and lend a helping hand to rise up from drought together.

Don't let it become Droughtland

Drought is already affecting all types of countries, in all types of geographies, negatively impacting global food systems, health, economic and social development. This trend is likely to continue unless we all get behind the necessary change and invest in solutions. Insufficient rainfall is not the only factor of devastating drought impacts. There is a lack of awareness about human-induced water scarcity that exacerbates drought risks and negative impacts. 

Droughtland is an imaginary country that lives under a dry spell. Campaign materials use a dash of humour to describe everyday challenges of living in Droughtland, and encourage people to take action so that no country becomes a real "drought land" where citizens' lives are forever altered by water scarcity.

Drought is a slow-onset disaster, requiring early action before it achieves its full power when only a treatment of drought impacts is left to be done. Preparedness and swift action are needed as soon as drought emerges. Our mindsets needs to change from reactive to proactive when it comes to drought mitigation, so all people can enjoy water security in the future. Let us be the only ones that experience severe drought impacts. Protect your country from becoming like Droughtland by preserving your communities, cultural legacy, and economy.

What can each of us do about it?
Everyone has a role to play. Explore what you can do to prevent your country from becoming Droughtland. The Desertification and Drought Day is a catalyst for action to be continued throughout the year:
  • Don’t stop on the day, schedule a monthly save-the-water-day. Promote sound water management and drought impact mitigation among the people of your social circle and community. Organize drought awareness events. Talk to your community. Seek out drought-mitigator champions and promote their initiatives.
  • Support communities to tackle drought head-on. No amount of early warning will work without action to protect the most vulnerable. Set up drought insurance programmes, establish food banks, build capacity and campaign for water-efficient food production.
  • Regenerate your land. When land is healthy, land is natural storage for fresh water. If it is degraded, it is not. Plant and consume drought-tolerant crops. Irrigate efficiently. Recycle and reuse water. Reduce water evaporation and soil erosion. Opt for a diverse plant-based diet.
  • Engage with schools. Educate, communicate and activate through children and youth. Investigate and disseminate practical drought resilience ideas and inform local communities about the most appropriate actions for their soil and land types.
  • Invest in projects that promote solar-powered water pumps and rainwater harvesting for drought-prone communities.
  • Share your stories about drought risks and resilience with the world.

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About annual UNCCD Desertification & Drought Day

Why do we observe it?

You may wonder how desertification affects you. No matter where you live, the consequences of desertification and drought concern you. Globally, 23 % of the land is no longer productive. 75 % has been transformed from its natural state, mostly for agriculture. This transformation in land use is happening at a faster rate than at any other time in human history, and has accelerated over the last 50 years. Everyone needs to know that desertification, land degradation and drought have direct effect on their daily lives, and that everyone's daily actions can either contribute to, or help fight desertification, land degradation and drought.

Who does it concern?

The land degradation problem is man-made, which means humans are also part of the solution. Anyone whose life depends on the land needs to care about it, and how land is treated by humans. That includes each and everyone, because:

  • 99 % of the calories and nutrition every human being needs for a healthy life still come from the land.
  • Land that is healthy and resilient is the first point of defence against disasters such as droughts and flash floods, which are becoming more frequent, long and severe.
  • The loss of more and more productive land is creating growing competition for land to meet the growing demand for goods and services and for ecosystem services that support life.
  • Land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss are intimately connected, and are increasingly affecting human well-being. Tackling these issues together is key to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Sustainable land management is everyone’s business. Together, we can restore the productivity of over 2 billion hectares of degraded land and improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people around the world.

The next few decades will be the most critical in restoring land for sustainable future. A decade of land degradation may create irreversible damage, but a decade of land restoration may bring multiple benefits

Its three objectives:

  1.  To promote public awareness about desertification and drought.
  2.  To let people know that desertification and drought can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and cooperation at all levels.
  3.  To strengthen implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.