The occurrence of droughts has become more frequent, causing breakdowns in agricultural and pastoral systems, widespread dislocation of communities ("environmental refugees") and substantial losses of human lives and livestock in many parts of the world, particularly in Africa. There is an obvious need for drought management, using the accumulated experience of countries that in the past have successfully coped with drought. Likewise, measures to arrest desertification are urgently needed in order to prevent further depletion of land resources.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
According to two case studies, one carried out in the Sudan and the other in Senegal, the Acacia tree is very important as a means of retaining soil fertility in such arid zones. Many of the problems caused by the droughts over the past decade are a direct consequence of eradicating the Acacia. Its replanting must be a first step in soil restoration.