Arab Conference on Combating Desertification Opens in Oman
An Arab conference to discuss ways to combat desertification opened Tuesday in Muscat, reported the official Omani News Agency (ONA).
The three-day meeting is organized by Oman’s Ministry of Regional Municipalities in cooperation with international organizations concerned with the environment.
Mohamed bin Khamis Al Uraimi, director general for environmental affairs and head of the Omani delegation to the meeting, said in an address that the “Sultanate’s hosting of the event affirms its continuous endeavor to activate national programs to combat desertification and enhance joint co-operation with Arab and international bodies.”
He called "desert creep" an international phenomenon resulting from environmental deterioration in dry lands, according to ONA.
“It reduces soil productivity and creates semi-desert conditions which impact negatively on living conditions in affected areas.”
Uraimi said Oman had set up an integrated anti- desertification national plan in cooperation with the FAO organization and the UN Environment Program.
He said a number of projects had already been implemented to protect arable land and develop grazing and desert areas to curb desert encroachment.
Nadra Mohamed Dia, representative of the technical secretary of the Council of Arab Ministers responsible for environmental affairs, said the Arab meeting would make plans and programs to fight desertification.
She said the organization had earmarked considerable funds to combat the spread of deserts, which she called an international problem requiring concerted efforts at the world level.
Mahmoud Abdulrahim, regional representative of the UN program for West Asia, said over 108 countries were threatened by drought, and that desertification in the Arab countries was growing because of population growth and pressure on natural resources.
He said many countries had started to find solutions for the problem at an early stage, and had issued legislation to protect natural resources with the assistance of the UN and the concerned Arab organizations.
The UN official said the technical secretary was currently implementing two projects on sustained management of water resources and plant cover, and preparing a plan to develop mountainous regions in West Asia – Albawaba.com