Halting the Spread of Desertification in Africa


  • World Level Issue
  • The Rogerian Format for Argument
    • Introduction
    • Summary of Opposing Views
    • Statement of Understanding
    • Statement of My Position
    • Statement of Contexts
    • Conclusions















English 102

May 31, 2011

Halting the Spread of Desertification in Africa


Various definitions have been formulated towards the accordance of a succinct description of the term “desertification.” The most comprehensive of these definitions is given by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) “as land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities” (Mayrand, et al. 5). Within the global context, forty-seven percent of habitable land is categorized as dry, currently sustaining at least 1.7 billion individuals of the world populace (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 2008). Geographical and ecological scholars assert that thirty-six to seventy percent of this dry land is attributable to desertification (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 2008). Every year, at least one hundred and thirty five million individuals globally are either literally forced out of their habitable land strips or bear a notable risk with regard to the same due to the issue of desertification.

Significant concern has been directed towards this issue with economic and trade activities comprising of the highest contributors to the problem. Enhanced population growth has infused substantial pressure on the existing resources and has thus led to the widening of environmental depletion through agricultural processes. Overgrazing accounts for the highest rate of ecological degradation on an annual basis with six hundred and eighty million hectares being transformed into dry strips on a global scale (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 2008). This is closely followed by deforestation and agricultural lands misuse each accounting for five hundred and eighty million hectares and five hundred and fifty million hectares respectively of habitable and economically viable land on a yearly basis (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 2008). Over harvesting of firewood within developing nations leads to ecological dilapidation, which affects one hundred and thirty seven million hectares of land (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 2008). Lastly, industrial and town expansions contribute to the spread of dry lands by close to twenty million hectares annually (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 2008).

Africa is notably the most affected region with regard to the issue of desertification as at least five hundred million hectares are annually lost to aridity, according to a direct adverse impact on the region’s economy. This is noted within the agricultural sector that acts as the economic mainstay of the region, as at least sixty-seven percent of the affected regions are agriculturally feasible lands. Africa bears a notable economic significance on the global economy through the mutual trade relationship based on the fact that the bulk of inputs employed in production industries are sourced from developing regions of Africa that are agricultural intensive (Viciani, et al, 2011). These inputs are complemented with materials from other regions like Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, in a bid to protract demand for the given input from industrially intensive regions of the world, majorly marked by developed nations.

Desertification of regions within the African continent therefore accord a trickle effect within the global economy notably in a linear relationship that is defined by decreased agricultural production affects the level of manufactured output by a proportionate measure (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 2008). The worldwide impact of this relationship is quite alarming with the overheads attached to the given issue measuring as at least forty-two billion dollars on a yearly period. These overheads are summed in terms of opportunity costs that are attributed to relinquished production and the value of ecological resources depleted in desertification processes. Additionally, reclamation overheads towards the same are also notably high ranging from ten billion dollars to twenty-two billion dollars every year. These facts hold as tangible prove that desertification within the African region is a world level issue. With the expensive nature of reclamation, halting desertification holds currently as the most economically feasible action for sustainable economies.

The Rogerian Format for Argument


The African continent comprises of both wet and dry lands, with the latter covering the highest region, precisely seventy-six percent of the whole area. Irrigation practices and other modern forms of reclamations have enabled the inhabitants in employing the sections for cultivation and grazing practices yet the efforts have been largely constrained by the fact that seventy-five percent of these areas are categorized as degraded and thereby liable to limited production. The fertility of these regions is usually low and only takes a few years for the depletion of the useful minerals and consequently, the land is rendered as worthless and unproductive. Additionally, reclaimed regions are prone to harsh famines that affect food security and the income patterns within the affected regions as living costs tend to be abnormally high (Geist 12). Researchers have noted strong correlations between wealth deficiency and desertification in African regions; this problem is further amplified by the nature of most African nations being landlocked.

Within the twentieth century, various economic strategies were implemented to solve the constraint of resource allocation, as justified by the inability of the affected populace to solve their problems based on resources deficiencies. In this situation, external sourcing was applied especially within the landlocked regions in a bid to relive poverty levels and pressure on the residual resources in the affected regions. Within this period, the globalization approach amongst trade regions as well as liberalization was implemented towards higher resource allocations that would lead to enhanced trading practices and thereby the reduction of poverty. With enlargement of trading markets, supply has to be enhanced to meet the level of enhanced demand and this has notably led to higher ecological degradations within the region as more production is necessitated (Johnson 13). Government authorities have supported the processes of globalization in agriculture as researchers have noted that one percent increase within export levels lead to an enhancement of the per capita proceeds by a margin of twenty percent.

Liberalization and globalization approaches are very constructive within the trading sector and this is highly significant in landlocked regions. These economic approaches direct the market towards a perfectly competitive state as the number of purchasers and suppliers is enhanced (Sundaram and Rudiger 24). However, as demand for agricultural materials is raised by the new market participants, the developing nations in Africa tend to resort into clearance of lands for farming as this holds as the pragmatic way of increasing supply levels within labor-intensive economies. Consequently, as more land is cleared and existing resources exhausted on a higher scale, environmental issues leading to desertification are realized with long-term undesirable effects that lead to economic deepening. This factor is possibly solved by the inclusion of ecologically friendly strategies that allow for liberalization and environmental preservation as a means of sustaining short-term benefits up to the long run.

Summary of Opposing Views

The opposing side has based its perspective on the notion that the globalization procedure is an aged practice introduced within the earlier half of the twentieth century, with the only notable difference being the pace that the practice is being adopted within the corporate world. In accordance to classical economists, market conditions evidencing full employment and perfect trade liberation have led to the regional specialization with each section bearing the capability of enhancing its competitive edge through decreased cost structures that in turn lead to enhanced profit margins (Sundaram and Rudiger 36). The resulting economic picture would therefore create higher communal wellbeing within the populace as consumers’ accessibility to affordable products is heightened as well as the preference mix. Socialist economies as well as command systems largely failed within the early periods as attributed to resource immobility within various areas and consumer oppression was noted by the rise of imperfect trading practices like monopolies.

The same situation applies to the agricultural sector as third world nations had suffered dismal returns on their economy due to the limited level of foreign trade occurring within the regions. As market expansion is acquired, and therefore the level of foreign income, more nations in Africa have moved towards high economic growth healthy enough to acquire a sense of autonomy. Liberalization therefore holds significance in poverty eradication and sustaining food safety within developing nations, and this has a direct impact on the populace regarding well being. The increased level of commercialization has doubled from the last century and this has moderated the economic wellbeing of individuals with the main issue being resource allocation and not the liberalization or globalization concept.

Statement of Understanding

Presently, fifty nations in the world are considered as least developing nations, with Africa harboring thirty-four of the same. Liberalization activities within the twenty-first century have enhanced the number of investment levels within the affected nations from 6.8 billion dollars within the period 2001 to 10.7 billion dollars within the period 2004 (United Nations, 2009). The monetary injections accorded to the regions were attributed to globalization practices that have allowed for healthy economic growth; the initial efforts within this three-year period noted an enhanced level of growth equivalent of six percent surpassing that, which was noted within the latter section of the twentieth century period. Additionally, researchers have noted that the economic expansion within the least developed nations has surpassed that indicated by developing nations within the same period.

The benefits associated with the process of economic liberalization have highly been noted in various periods of the twentieth century and increasingly within the twenty-first century as statistics indicate. Nations like Kenya have with the inclusion of liberalization schemes like the export processing zones (EPZs) realized notable economic growth as income levels have increased considerably leading to lower poverty and a higher level of sustainable growth. This has transformed the nation from a least developed nation into a developing economy. However, these benefits may be regarded as sectional with other regions bearing an inverse nature of relationship with liberalization leading to lack of uniformity in the spread of the gains. Credible studies have indicated that within the latter period of the twentieth century when liberalization mechanisms were on their peak, poverty levels were enhanced by close to fifty percent (World Trade Organization, 2011).

This abnormal relation can be accounted for by the regressive nature arising from the relation between economic and environmental strategies defined by the fact that, as economic approaches have led to expansion of trade in terms of income levels and consumer wellbeing, the efforts have been reduced to negative states by redundant environmental procedures, leading to a negative net effect. This is because, investments within African nations are majorly directed to agricultural practices as the highest GDP earner within most nations yet the benefits are only realized within the short-term period with the increase in the earning levels being primarily attached to the level of agricultural practices, cultivation and animal rearing (Feridun 43). The long-term effects, however, tend to be adverse as the pressure on the existing regions is evidenced by ecological depletion leading to an economic deepening that surpasses the gains accorded within the short-term period. The end-term result is therefore worse than the initial state of the affected nation.

Statement of My Position

To evidence the regressive nature of this relationship, we shall apply the case of Burkina Faso with regard to economic expansion as attributed to liberalization strategies and the impact of desertification within the region. Dual strategy formulations should be accorded to both economic and ecological functions within Africa; this will create cohesion within the complementary elements for sustainable economic expansion through the prevention of further desertification.

Evidence: The Burkina Faso Issue

The nation of Burkina Faso in the African continent is ranked globally within the lower percentile regions harboring the poorest nations. Nearly thirty-two percent of the nation’s economy comprises of subsistence forms of agriculture with cotton accounting for the largest exported item. State authorities in Burkina Faso have accorded financial initiatives towards the enhancement of the program for enhanced revenues based on the level of exports. Ninety-five percent of Burkina Faso lands are categorized as dry, 68.5 percent being semi-arid, 21.2 percent being dry and sub-humid, and 5.3 percent being arid (Mayrand, et. al 20). The remaining five percent comprises of moist and sub humid areas. Within the period 1999, three hundred and fifty three thousand hectares were used for cotton farming and this increased to four hundred and six hectares by the period 2003 (Sundaram and Rudiger 48). Cotton supply within the same periods doubled leading to a proportionate increment in revenues.

Additional lands for cotton farming are attributed to deforestation within the nation that has led to ecological degradation of an annual seventy-five thousand hectares for the expansion program. With this level of land depletion, research projections for the period 2020 have indicated that desertification within the northern expanse that is currently semi-arid will be transformed into arid land, central regions of Burkina Faso will shift from dry and sub humid to semi arid, and the southern section moist and sub humid to dry and sub humid . In other areas where cotton cultivation has been initiated, desertification tendencies are notable. With the realization of the noted threats, Burkina Faso’s agricultural sector will become redundant and therefore will the economy (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 2008). Additionally, drought patterns, lack of employment, food insecurity and poverty will be enhanced within the nation.

Statement of Contexts

From the above stated case, it is evident that although Burkina Faso’s economy was enhanced by the extensive cotton production aspect, this is only beneficial within the short-term period, marked as from 1999 to 2019. Consequently, as the long-term session commences in the period 2020 due to the desertification issue, multiple adverse effects will be evidenced and it will be very costly for the nation in reversing the problems. Prevention of desertification therefore holds as the best policy against environmental degradation due to labor-intensive practices, with the alternative of improving technology within such areas as an option towards production enhancement within the agricultural zones. This would create mutual benefits with regard to the economy as well as ecological preservation.


Desertification in Africa is linked to economic practices within the agriculture industry as more cultivation areas are necessitated to meet the enhanced level of demand posed by developed nations as industrial inputs (Kutting 51). The dual nature of African economies has led to economic stagnations due to the dedication of higher efforts within the agriculture section while little interests or improvement are accorded to the industrial component. This has therefore created a regressive form of relationship that within the long-run leads to dismal impacts on the economies despite the inclusion of viable approaches like globalization. Therefore, according equitable treatment to both agriculture and industries concerning ecological preservation, with a bias to the extensions of desertification, remains as the only solution to economic progress within the affected nations.











Works Cited

Feridun, Mete, Folorunso Ayadi, and Jean Boluga. “Impact of Trade Liberalization on the Environment in Developing Countries: The Case of Nigeria.” Journal of Developing Societies 22.1 (2006): 39-56. Print.

Geist, Helmut. The Causes and Progression of Desertification. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2005. Print.

Johnson, Pierre-Marc, Karel Mayrand, and Marc Paquin, “Canadian International Development Agency and Unisfera International Centre.” Governing Global Desertification: Linking Environmental Degradation, Poverty and Participation. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006. Print.

Kutting, Gabriela. “Globalization, Poverty and the Environment in West Africa: Too Poor to Pollute?” Global Environment Politics 3.4 (2006): 42-60. Print.

Mayrand, Karel, Marc Paquin and Stephanie Dionne. From Boom to Dust? Agricultural Trade Liberalization, Poverty, and Desertification in Rural Drylands: The Role of UNCCD. Unisfera International Centre, April 2005. Web. 16 May 2011.

Sundaram, Jomo, and Rudiger Arnim. Economic Liberalization and Constraints to Development in Sub-Saharan Africa. DESA Working Paper No. 67, September 2008. Web. 16 May 2011. < http://www.jomoks.org/research/pdf/Economic_Liberalization.pdf >.

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Combating Desertification in Africa. 24 Jan. 2008. Web. 16 May 2011.

United Nations. Facts About Least Developed Countries (LDCs). UN Office of the High Representative of the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, 2009. Web. 16 May 2011.

Viciani, Franco, Kostas Stamoulis and Alberto Zezza. Summary of Results of the Survey. FAO Corporate Document Repository, 2011. Web. 16 May 2011.

World Trade Organization. Trade Liberalization Statistics. 2011. Web. 16 May 2011. <

Here Web I need Sponsor

Still stressed from student homework?
Get quality assistance from academic writers!

WELCOME TO OUR NEW SITE. We Have Redesigned Our Website With You In Mind. Enjoy The New Experience With 15% OFF