South-South-North Collaboration Will Address Desertification in Africa’s Sahel

21 June 2012: Africa, Brazil and France have launched a scientific collaboration to fight desertification, with a particular focus on the Sahel region. It aims to integrate information on desertification trends captured through satellite imagery and on-the-ground knowledge and research. It also will build scientific capacity in Africa, strengthen science-society links and contribute to sustainable management of arid and semi-arid areas of Africa.

The "South-South-North" collaboration was launched on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). Participating partners stressed the need to urgently address desertification. Idriss Déby, President of Chad, said desertification is affecting millions of people in Africa, and immediate action is required to avoid degradation that would make many parts of African uninhabitable. Michel Laurent, the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) Director-General, emphasized that “the situation in the Sahel area is continuing to deteriorate," noting that desertification's southward spread is causing many people to migrate.

The tripartite research programme represents the first scientific cooperation programme on desertification in Africa. It is an initiative of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) in Brazil, IRD in France and the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW), which includes 11 African nations.

Prior to its official launch in Rio, several global events highlighted the need for this collaboration. The Fight Against Desertification in Africa conference called for interdisciplinary research on desertification, drought and land degradation in its Declaration of Niamey. At the sixth World Water Forum, partners officially signed an agreement. The collaboration also was discussed at previous International Conference: Climate, Sustainability and Development in Arid and Semi-arid Regions (ICID) events. [IRD Press Release]