By Xiaoyi LiaoGlobal Village of Beijing, China1. Crisis and challengesLand Scarcity22% of the world’s population is sustained with only 7% of the world’s cultivatedlandSoil erosionOne-sixth of China’s total land area has been damaged by severe soil erosion.Land Cover87 million hectares have suffered degradation due to climate change, overgrazingand farming. Damage is spreading at the rate of 1.3 million hectares per year.Forest Loss79 million hectares of forestlands have been lost; Forest cover in China is lessthan 13% of surface area.Desertification3000 sq km becomes desert each year causing dust storm and transboundarypollutants movement, Over grazing accelerates desertification of GrasslandWetland and freshwater lakes have shrunk to less than 50% of 1949 levelLand Management and Control of DesertificationReforestation: #1 in the world, 50 million hectares (120 million acres) reforestedlandForest coverage now accounts for 16.6% of land areaEstimate total need for national investment on desertification control - US$ 25-30billionImplement land retirement programEstablish functional conservation sites2. Our work1. Environmental awareness raising through TV programs. Two films about the
cause of desertification and sand storms.2. Introducing other countries’ experience in fighting desertification3. Conservation tillage pilot project in Zhang Bei area4. Policy suggestions on sustainable tourism5. Advocate Forest Certification, and consumer awareness6. Water saving projects in green communities7. Water for Life campaign working with Earth Day NetworkCase StudyBackgroundDesertification in Inner Mongolia seriously deteriorates the shortage of water. In thedesertification areas, the task of fetching water often falls to women and children.They must to walk miles each day to get water for their family, which keep mostof them out of school. Lack of water causes failures in economic development andaggravates poverty, resulting in severe malnutrition of local children.Description of the PictureAbout the photographer: When his former employer, a coal mine in Inner Mongolia,closed down seven years ago, sending the now 58-year-old Lu into earlyretirement, he decided to give new meaning to his life. Lu thus started travelling tothe desert border regions in Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Shanxi and Hebei for severalmonths each year, and has meanwhile collected about 20,000 shots that documentthe dramatic decline of environmental conditions in Chinas north-west. Life at theedge of the desertification area is harsh and pityful. In many of the settlements, thewells have dried up. The little child in the photo was 11 years old, while hasalready been imposed with the burden of carrying water for his family. The heavychore costs him five hours a day but only meets the basic needs for drink andcooking.In the year of 1998, Lu took a picture of a then eight-year-old boy. When he methim three years later, he was surprised to find that boy was still wearing theexactly same clothes. Not only are his parents too poor to buy new clothes, hedoesnt need any, since he hasnt grown a single centimetre in the past yearswhich had been the vital period for his growth. The food situation only allows fortwo meals per day, far from enough both in quantity and quality.
Peoples teeth are stained yellow from the water with a high percentage ofFluorine, and Lu also suspects the lack of quality in drinking water to be one ofthe main reasons for the many mentally as well as physically ill people in theseplaces."No water, no food say nothing of going to school." said the helpless father.…Most of the children in their village can not learn to read and write, but everyonemust learn how to steer a donkey-pulled cart to get water, as a very early age.They grow up through the endless come-and-go on a long road to water, in theimmense desert.Efforts being made to solve the problemEnhance public awareness in the desertification of Inner Mongolia,mobile resourcesfrom all the sectors to resolve the water issue.Lus photography exhibition "Crying Camels, Desert Encroachment" hasshocked millions of people in Beijing and they spontaneously initiated some aidactivities The photos have also been widely distributed on newspapers and Internet.More and more people joined him to research and work for the environment inAlashan, including the Stanford University and OISCA from Japan.Utilize traditional knowledge and innovative technology to ensure the water supplyfor living necessity of local people.The Mother Water Vault Programme conducted by the All- China WomensFederation, focuses on constructing the unique water vault which is used to collectrainwater, and intend to ensure that each family has at least one vault in thefeasible areas. It has realized adequate water supply in more than 15 Counties inInner Mongolia.The ultimate road is still to restore and reconstruct the ecological environment inthe coming decade: close off pastures for 1-5 years, plant trees and grow grass,develop renewable resources and rehabilitate oases.In the past ten years, the local government if Alashan region has invested 330million RMB in ecological construction. The programme of China-AustraliaTechnological Cooperation on Alashan Ecological System Development, which isco-financed by the Australia International Development Agency, has recently beenactivated. This programme intends to strengthen the self-sustainability, the
comprehensive management and the economic capacity.