[Permaculture] African deserts

Scott Pittman pci at permaculture-inst.org
Tue Jul 6 20:02:16 EDT 1999

At 11:34 AM 7/6/99 -0700, John Schinnerer wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From:	Scott Pittman [SMTP:pci at permaculture-inst.org]
>>I've just returned from a month in Africa where deserts are being created
>>systematically and shovel technology is just not an option if one wants to
>>begin the process of pushing the desert back.  
>By whom, and how, are these deserts being systematically created?  I haven't
>heard about this yet...?  This isn't the Egyptian plan to create a second
>"Nile river valley," is it?
>John Schinnerer
"On the southern edge of the Sahara an area the size of Somalia has become
desert over the past 50 years.  The same fate now threatens more than
one-third of the African continent.  The main cause of desertification is
not drought but mis-management of land, including overgrazing and felling of
trees and brushwood for fuel." Source: "The conservation and Rehabilation of
African Lands" FAO 1990

FYI Somalia is 650,000 square kilometers.  An additional 50,000 to 70,000
km2 is being added to the African desertification list annually.  "More than
35% of the land north of the equator is affected by either erotion or
salinity.  Zimbabwe alone could be losing 1.6 million tonnes of nitrogen and
240,000 tonnes of phosphorus each year through erotion." FAO ARC/90/4

Just because you havn't heard about it doesn't mean it isn't happening.

How would you restore 650,000 square kilometers of sand dunes?  And what is
you argument against thousands of miles of swales to collect rainfall that
may fall on this land.  This isn't new commercial technology the Nabateans
were doing the same thing in the Sinai desert before Moses.  If the Jews had
of maintained these water collecting structures the Sinai would still be in

Though I sympathize with Luddism in some contexts this isn't one of them.


Scott Pittman

Permaculture Institute, USA
PO Box 3702, Pojoaque, NM 87501  US
phone 505.455.0270

Ingenio Patet Campus

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