Land degradation is one of the biggest ecological threats faced today. Defined as “the deterioration or loss of the productive capacity of the soils for present and future”, it is exacerbated by myriad human-induced factors, including agriculture, climate change, and deforestation.
One particularly urgent form of land degradation is desertification, which has a distinctly negative effect on women worldwide. Land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss are all connected and all affecting human wellbeing. Droughts are becoming more common, having increased in frequency and duration by 29% since 2000 compared to the two preceding decades. With over one-quarter of the global population already facing water stress, by 2050, more than 215 million people could be displaced by drought. Vulnerable areas will thus face significant land degradation, with land becoming arid and uncultivable.
The theme of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2023 is “Her land. Her rights”. Women make up a huge part of global conservation voice and the Laikipia landscape women are not left behind in this conservation. However, they are subjected to discriminatory laws and cultural attitudes that put them at a significant disadvantage in this discussion, the Laikipia Conservancies Association has been at the foreforent advocating for the inclusion of women in key decision organs and amplifying their voices.
The association is currently working on securing resources to develop a more robust gender program that will address all the issues around women empowerment in all our member conservancies. Provision of energy saving jikos, establishing robust women empowerment initiatives will enable strenghtening and securing of the rights of women will increase their participation and the likelihood of conservation success. We have been at the forefront advocating that It's time for women and girls to be at the forefront of global land restoration, conservation and drought resilience efforts.
Human activities, such as land mismanagement and deforestation, and climatic variations, such as droughts, cause the drought and desertification phenomenon. Drylands make up a huge proportion of Earth’s land surface – around 41% – and as such desertification threatens around 2 billion people, hence call for all our collective responsibilities to raise the voices and champion for inclusiveness in protecting our fragile ecosystem.
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’s ultimate goal is to prevent and reverse the process of desertification in drylands. This is to be achieved by implementing strategies based on better land and water resources management, conservation and rehabilitation efforts, and improving degraded land.
Gender and land degradation
Globally, women are disproportionately affected by desertification and drought. This is because they make up a large portion of the workforce in emerging economies (around 43%), but have limited rights with regard to land ownership, planning, decision making, and access to financial services and resources.
Our biggest role as an association is to bring advocacy, capacity building and trainings to all our women in conservancies to understand this significance roles towards creating a just and healthy ecosystems.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to achieve the interrelated goals of gender equality and land degradation neutrality. It’s widely recognized that women have a huge role to play in land restoration and conservation.