In the coming six years, the Program aims to assist 20 million people and mitigate land degradation over 600,000 km2 in East and Southern Africa.
Challenges to overcome
Over 70% of marginal land in East and Southern Africa is categorized as arid, and most of the rest as semi-arid. Potential evapotranspiration is three to four times the average annual rainfall. Not surprisingly, this area is subject to frequent drought, with significant effects on assets, income, and food security.
Livestock losses are often heavy during drought, and droughts are so common that herds do not have time to recover between them. Severe to very severe range degradation exists in marginal areas. Increasing human populations, declining mobility of livestock populations, and sedentarization around water points has led to the overutilization of land and water, and localized land degradation.
Conflict is also occurring as a result of land fragmentation. The primary system in marginal areas of the action site is livestock production.
Poverty levels in the action site are high (55–70%), resulting in very high vulnerability. Low political will and economic marginalization, resulting from the geographic isolation and poor infrastructure in much of the marginal portion of the action site, has led to high levels of neglect by central governments.
Increases in basic services and infrastructure would promote diversification and market engagement, and reduce vulnerability in the region.
In areas with higher productive potential, high population density is contributing to land degradation and decreasing farm size through fragmentation.
Market access is also a significant issue in many areas as only 22% of households can reach the nearest market in less than three hours, and nearly one quarter require more than 12 hours to get to the market.
Water bodies cover almost 4% of the total land area in this region, providing significant opportunity for irrigated cropping as well as livestock watering.
Despite the existence of relevant knowledge on agricultural adaptation and interventions at farm level, social capital is not being capitalized upon to spread information.
There is a need for a major intervention focused on addressing the need for knowledge and innovation networks.
Action sites in Eastern and Southern Africa also require increased extension services and an enabling policy environment that reduces obstacles for intensification, particularly value-chain innovation, integrated into a broader plan for resilience and food security enhancement.