6. Can the consequences of drought and desertification be influenced by human behaviour?

Human behaviour can influence the impact of drought and desertification (brought about by climate change) through a variety of scientific, technical, social and political solutions.

Scientific and technical solutions: 

  • increase in water resources and in improved stock management (irrigation techniques that avoid water waste and salinisation of the ground;
  • planting vegetation (trees, Green Dam);
  • stabilisation of dunes through adapted vegetation and other environment-friendly devices; 
  • application of irrigation and drainage techniques; 
  • identification and development of crops that are well-adapted to hydric and salt stress; 
  • establishing observation networks for monitoring vulnerable ecosystems and irrigated perimeters; development of early-warning systems.
  • improvements to the ground’s capacity to retain water to allow the development of agriculture (organic amendment).
Figure 10: Green Dam (isohyètes 300 / 200mm / Algeria)
Figure 11: refforestation in semi-arid region

Social solutions: 

  • drawing on the “indigenous knowledge” of local communities (e.g. the management of Saharan oases);
  • educational programmes to raise awareness about desertification and to change attitudes and behaviours; 
  • technical training of populations;
  • food aids, substitution of materials used for supplies and resources (e.g. gas instead of wood).

Political solutions:

  • egislative measures: protective laws;
  • development of national policies and strategies of intervention (anti-erosive measures, biomass production, forestation, control and enhancement of water resources, reorganisation of pastoral activities, modernisation of production processes, diversification and development of new activities). 
  • development of international programmes, particularly for monitoring desertification and to exchange experiences and good practices.