Restoring Africa’s Degraded Lands by Improving Farmers’ Rights
Droughts and desertification fueled by deforestation, agricultural expansion and climate change have left African countries from the Sahel to the Congo Basin with sizable economic losses and little chance of food security. Roughly 65 percent of the continent’s land is now degraded, resulting in a 3 percent loss of agricultural GDP annually due to soil degradation and nutrient depletion on farmlands.
Despite these extreme circumstances, Africa also has the largest opportunity for landscape restoration in the world—more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres), an area nearly the size of Australia, according to analysis by the World Resources Institute, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the University of Maryland (UMD). Three countries in particular have already started this process of restoration by empowering those it stands to benefit most—rural farmers.