Desertification & Habitat: how AVN contributes to the preservation of African ecosystems
Over one-third of the planet’s land surface is affected by desertification today, essentially in dry regions where 2 billion of the poorest people in the world live. In West Africa, this degradation of the land is accelerated by climate change, increasing human activity, deforestation, and fragile socio-economic systems.
Although often considered as secondary influences, the built habitat and associated construction techniques can have both positive and negative impacts on the causes and consequences of desertification.
The Nubian Vault technique promoted by AVN helps significantly to preserve ecosystems and their biodiversity, through the use of locally available and appropriate construction materials. In a wider context, AVN’s programme encourages socio-economic development of rural populations (often those most affected by the consequences of desertification), in particular through sustainable job creation and the strengthening of local economic circuits.
Accordingly, as part of the global day for the fight against desertification and drought initiated by UNCCD and celebrated in June each year, AVN took part in two international events: the World Forum on desertification and drought in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), and the Désertif’Actions Forum in Strasbourg.
World Forum on the Fight against Desertification and Drought: “Our earth, our house, our future”
Organised by UNCCD and the Ministère de l’environnement, de l’économie verte et du changement climatique (MEEVCC), this forum’s aims were to raise awareness about the issue of desertification, to mobilise institutional actors and technical and financial partners, and to re-engage the commitment of Heads of State and governments for the implementation of the “3S" initiative (Sustainability, Stability, Security) launched at COP22 by Morocco and Senegal.
Constructive discussions with conference participants (UNCCD, MEEVCC, the Initiative Grande Muraille Verte au Sahara et Sahel, SPONG and ReSaD networks, mayors etc.) were held. AVN was able to stress the advantages of its programme with regard to the environment, to climate change adaptation and mitigation, to social development, and to the green economy, in order to ensure that adapted housing and construction was given priority by the different stakeholders in their commitments and actions in the struggle against desertification.
In Burkina Faso, the country where the AVN programme started, 1/3 of the land is degraded, whereas 85% of the population lives from its cultivation. The challenge is thus enormous, and the AVN programme can bring a solution to reduce the terrible impacts of desertification, and to allow the population to adapt to its consequences. These benefits were recognised by the UNCCD representative, Marcos Montoiro, who met those involved in the AVN programme in the region of Koubri on the eve of the event.
Désertif’Actions - Earth & Climate: time to act
The international summit of non-state actors fighting desertification was held this year in Strasbourg, on the joint initiative of CARI, the Climate Chance Association, UNCCD and the city of Strasbourg. Some thirty countries brought together around 200 participants to draft concrete proposals preparatory to UNCCD’s COP13 meeting planned for September in Ordos (China) and UNFCCC ’s COP23 in Bonn in November.
AVN took part in a working session with other members of the GTD (Groupe de Travail Désertification)*, GERES, BISS, and a local partner (Eco-Bénin), with a view to developing a timber energy theme in the GTD and more generally amongst the activities of non-state actors. AVN plans to continue the diffusion of good practice amongst development, cooperation, and solidarity actors in France and in the South.
Désertif’actions ended with the adoption of the Strasbourg Declaration of non-state actors, including AVN: « Reducing land degradation and rehabilitating degraded land must become a priority for the international community » (french)