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Desertification a real threat

A billion peoples' livelihood is seriously threathened by desertification said a UN expert on the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification.Africa and Asia top the list. People are forced off their land when it becomes unsustainable for human life. In China, 2.62 billion sq. kms of land is prey to soil erosion and loss of cultivated land to desert.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2003 12:22 IST

The loss of arable land to the desert threatens one third of the Earth's surface and the livelihoods of more than a billion people, a UN expert warned.

Africa and Asia are the worst affected by the phenomenon of desertification, with people forced off their land when it becomes unsustainable for human life, Arba Diallo, head of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification said on the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification on June 17.

In China alone, 2.62 billion square kilometres (one billion square miles) of land are prey to soil erosion and loss of cultivated land to desert, he said.

Unless the current trend is reversed, arable land worldwide will fall to just 0.16 hectares (0.4 acres) per person in the next 30 years, posing a threat to global food security, Diallo said.

Intensive livestock rearing, deforestation, insufficient water supply and natural changes are the main factors driving the process, Diallo said.

"We cannot blame people living in the developing world for overexploiting their land to survive. They have no other chance, since they are dependent on their land," Diallo said.

First Published: Jun 20, 2003 12:14 IST