Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Makhotso Sotyu, has urged South Africans to protect land from over-use as it provides food, water and energy.
“We all can play a role in combating the effects of desertification. As individuals and corporates, we need to change our behaviour, adopt efficient land use planning and more sustainable land management practices,” the Deputy Minister said on Wednesday.
She said these efforts will enhance the capacity of land to provide a wide range of goods and services.
“This call is more relevant, even as government continues to facilitate the transformation that is fundamental for the future of this country,” Sotyu said.
The Deputy Minister’s call comes as South Africa joins the global community in marking the annual Desertification and Drought Day on 17 June 2020.
The day is celebrated under the theme, ‘Food. Feed. Fibre’, highlighting the links between consumption and land.
“Key to the leading drivers of desertification and land degradation are unsustainable production and consumption patterns. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the feed for animals come from the land. The marking of the 2020 Desertification and Drought day is therefore another call for more efficient and sustainable practices,” said the department.
Desertification and Drought Day, formerly known as the World Day to Combat Desertification, is a United Nations observance day held on 17 June each year with the aim of raising public awareness on the impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought.
It also serves as an initiative that propels the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in countries such as South Africa that are prone to serious drought and/or increased desertification.
The department continues to work with other government and non-state actors in implementing programmes that aim to rehabilitate the land and enhance the productivity of land.
“Through our various Expanded Public Works Programmes, we have been able to build the much needed infrastructure with an aim of preserving productive land whilst creating some form of resilience against the impacts of climate change.
“We will continue to make funds available for such programmes, as they do not only serve to preserve the environment, but also contribute to improving and sustaining the livelihoods of our people,” the Deputy Minister said.
The department has for years invested heavily on projects and initiative across provinces that provide employment opportunities in rural areas while restoring degraded landscapes.
“We therefore call on all hands on deck in protecting our precious natural resources that provide food, feed and fibre. All livelihoods and human existence are reliant on healthy land,” Sotyu said
As a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), South Africa works collectively with the all countries in the Africa region in advancing programmes and initiatives that combat and mitigate the effects of desertification and drought throughout the continent.