16 Jun 2017
Phemo Kgomotso, Regional Technical Specialist, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa.
People living in drylands and other marginal landscapes have always lived with uncertainty and livelihood insecurities. Over time, they have employed a myriad of coping strategies, including seasonal migration in search of food, pasture and water. Photo: UNDP Somalia
Would forced migration end, if people knew that they could survive and thrive in their homeland? The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) asks this pertinent question as we observe World Day to Combat Desertification on 17 June, focused on examining the important link between land degradation and migration. A childhood memory that has stayed with me is from 1992, when Botswana, along with many other countries in southern Africa were hit by what the New York Times called 'the worst drought of the 20th Century'. That year, on a hot and dry December day, one of my family members and I spent half a day trekking livestock to the only water source that hadn’t dried up, and another half day trekking back to my grandmother’s farmstead. That year, my family lost over 40 heads of cattle. Mainly dependent on livestock for subsistence, people living in drylands and other marginal landscapes have always lived with uncertainty and livelihood insecurities and constraints presented by such environments. Over time, they have employed a myriad of coping strategies, including seasonal migration in search of food, pasture and water. The Fulani herders, found in Nigeria, Niger, Guinea, Mali and many parts of the Sahel