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close this bookSustaining the Future. Economic, Social, and Environmental Change in Sub-Saharan Africa (UNU, 1996, 365 p.)
close this folderPart 2: Environmental issues and futures
close this folderDrought, desertification, and water management in Sub-Saharan Africa
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentDroughts in Sub-Saharan Africa and their implications for planning and development
View the documentDesertification
View the documentLand degradation and management of soil and water
View the documentConclusion
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentReferences


"Sustainability" and "sustainable development" have become the key terms in addressing the world's general concern over environment and development issues. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the development process seems to have reached an impasse. Food production per person has declined steadily during the past three decades. People in many countries of the region are poorer now than they were 30 years ago around the period of independence. The environmental crisis is equally tragic and plagued by desertification and recurrent droughts in the semi-arid lands and high rates of deforestation in the humid eco-zones.

Scattered in the gloomy picture, however, some success stories offer useful lessons and point to the direction that could lead to sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa. This paper has underlined the potential of agro-forestry and a small-scale water-harvesting technique to combat desertification and promote sustainable agricultural production. These alone would not be enough to reverse the current negative economic growth of Sub-Saharan Africa. Without them, however, it appears that sustainable agricultural development in the region could remain an insurmountable challenge for the near future.