Land degradation is among the biggest environmentalchallenges of our time1.Sub-SaharanAfrica (SSA) has experienced the most severe land degradation in the world.Given that livelihoods of the majority of the rural poor heavily depend onnatural resources, countries in the region have designed a number of policiesand strategies to address land degradation and to enhance productivity.

However,investment from both countries and their development partners has remained low,especially for livestock, which accounts for the largest area degraded2.  Land degradation has a lot ofcauses, including extreme weather conditions, particularlydrought, as well as human activities that pollute or degrade the quality of soils and land utility negativelyaffecting food production, livelihoods, and the production and provision ofother ecosystem goods and services3.  DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS  DesertificationDesertification island degradation that occurs in drylands. The United Nations Convention toCombat Desertification (UNCCD) defines it as “landdegradation in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid areas resulting from variousfactors, including climatic variations and human activities. When landdegradation happens in the world’s drylands, it oftencreates desert-like conditions”.

It may also refer to “the irreversible changeof the land to such a degree it can no longerbe recovered for its original use”4. Desertification usually results in the desertifiedland losing its vegetation, water bodies (lakes, streams), and wildlife5.  Land DegradationThe UNCCD defines land degradation as”any reduction or loss in the biological or economic productive capacity of theland resource base. It is generally caused by humanactivities, exacerbated by natural processes, and often magnified by and closely intertwinedwith climate change and biodiversity loss”6. Land degradation can be viewedas the reduction in the capability of the land to produce benefits from aparticular land use under a specified form of land management7.

 Soil ErosionSoil erosion is also more specific than both land and soildegradation. It refers only to the absolute loss of topsoil and nutrients, themost visible effect of soil degradation. Wind andwater erosion are the main processes affecting soils. It is normally a naturalprocess in mountainous areas, but poor management practices contribute to thepotential forany soils to erode8. In soil climate is a key factor9.   Soil degradation The Soil Atlas of Africa describes soil degradation asthe “process that leads to a deterioration of soil properties and functions,often accelerated by human activities”10. Soildegradation could be described as the deterioration of soil quality, or inother words: the partial or entire loss of one or more functions of the soil.

Quality should be assessed in terms of the different potential functions of thesoil11.  Sub-Saharan AfricaSub-Saharan Africa (SSA)is the term used to describe thearea of the African continent whichlies south of the SaharaDesert. Geographically, the demarcation line isthe southern edge of the Sahara Desert12.


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