In order to survive it is better to share. On World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, a text by Jorge Wagensberg tells us how a simple palm tree provides us with a metaphor to face a global threat.
Do we eat sustainably? The meaning of this sentence is different for someone living in NYC o in Dhaka, or for a farmer in the French Burgundy, in Anantapur or in the African Sahel. The responses do not allow us to draw global conclusions either. The food challenge faced by mankind is enormous: in addition to the need of water and land there is now the carbon footprint. The climate crisis is present in the diet of those who have the privilege of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. And what about all those who don’t?
Extreme heat and irregular monsoons are the worst threats for India. The adaptation to the global climate crisis is particularly urgent in the large Asian country, where the life of its population directly depends on the water cycle.
In India, the enormous challenge of achieving the sustainable growth of a country that in a few years will be the most populated in the world, should be based on avoiding the ruin of small farmers, empowering them to fight drought, the degradation of the land, single-crop farming and social imbalance. The construction of small self-managed reservoirs brings life to the most impoverished farmers and is a development model to be followed in semiarid regions.
The periodic crises in the African “Hunger Belt” have provided a more accurate and effective vision of the relationship between desertification and human activities. Regardless of the droughts, poor resource exploitation practices have been determinants of land degradation. The African Great Green Wall project gives hope to the Sahel, one of the most vulnerable areas to the current climate crisis.
The collection of rainwater is vital in the most arid regions of India. The severe drought and the uneven rainfall in these regions bring about a return of the ancestral rainfall collection techniques. Thanks to their regenerating effect on aquifers, they have become a key element in the fight against desertification and in the empowerment of the poorest farmers. The rains in September and October have proved that the small reservoirs and tanks such as the ones in Gajikunta and Girigetla are the basis of the life of all farmers in their surroundings.
The overexploitation of aquifers puts in check the agricultural development of the soon to be most populated country on Earth and menaces millions of farmers who see that the climate uncertainty threatens their future. The return to primitive water storage techniques and the implementation of efficient irrigation systems are feasible solutions for the farmers with less resources and a roadmap for other semiarid zones of the planet.
A water drop lost in the irrigation process is a treasure lost in the soil. The farmers with an increasingly menaced future due to drought cannot stand still while the little water they have left evaporates: without it they are bound to extreme poverty. The drip irrigation systems avoid the evaporation of water and the misery of those who lose it. For all of them each drop is the treasure of a lifetime.
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