Approximately 1.2 billion people are at risk from desertification as deserts expand and degraded drylands cover close to a third of the world’s land surface area, according to estimates by the United Nations.
While Africa is the worst affected continent, India too has about 32 per cent of its land affected by land degradation. New areas in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir and eastern Indian states like Orissa and Jharkhand are turning arid, with nine states together accounting for nearly 24 per cent of desertification. In states like Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat and Goa, more than 50 per cent of land is under desertification Desertification is mainly a problem of sustainable development. Its causes include over-cropping, overgrazing, improper irrigation practices, and deforestation. Poor land management practices such as these often stem from the socio-economic conditions in which the farmers live and can be prevented.