Case: Dry land

Categorie(s): Agriculture, Cases, Ecology, Food for Mankind, Water, women's role

Muhtar is a boy living in a farming village in Sambelia district. Nowadays his father is no longer farming but working in the big city and rarely coming home. His mother still works on the farm but it does not give enough to feed Muhtars family anymore. Why is that?
From year to year the rainfall in Sambelia district area has decreased. The discharge of water in Aik Kalaq river became very small. This river is the only water resource in the area. In many places the fertile soil has become dry land so the plantation did not give any harvest anymore.
Muhtar is helping his mother and the neighbour farmers trying to plant species of plants that are suitable for dry land such as cashew nut tree.

Study the problems with water, in your own area, or worldwide. These questions can help you to start.


  1. In many places water resources have disappeared. What has caused this? Have people caused this?
  2. What are the effects of cutting too much forest?
  3. Why did people cut or burn forest? Did they not know this could be harmful?
  4. Is it possible to replant trees at places where the forest is gone?
  5. How come that so much land is neglected nowadays?
  6. What could be done to make it possible for Muhtars father (and other fathers) to work at home again?

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On these websites you can find more useful info about this case. (sorry, not yet, but we will add here some useful sites soon!)
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Dry land in India: farmers will not have a harvest this year from this land!
Suggested by: Ahmad Nardi, Anwar, Radi Malik, Arifuddin, Idrus, Badar, all from East Lombok, Indonesia

Read this article about the problems of drying land, and about the role women can play

June 01, 2006
BEIJING — Women, who make up about 70 percent of rural workers worldwide, are key to turning back the spread of deserts, the head of the United Nations’ main agency on rural poverty said.
Desertification and land degradation threatens the livelihoods of over one billion people in more than 100 countries and causes annual economic losses of $6.5 billion, according to the U.N.
And it is women who must be bought into the fight against the spreading sands, Lennart Bage, president of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development, told.
“Women are very often at the frontline of fighting desertification, or managing land degradation, because very often, in many parts of the world, women are the farmers,” he said, sitting in the U.N.’s Beijing offices.
“Women are crucial, as very often they are the ones responsible for the family for getting fuel wood, water and for tending the fields,” he added.
“They often know a lot about resource management.”

With spreading deserts making it harder to eke out a living on the land, many men are leaving for urban areas, leaving their families behind and women to confront worsening soil and climatic conditions.
“You have migration taking place, and in many societies the men migrate. So they leave the household and they send back money, but to keep the fields growing and livestock tended to, it’s very often left to women and children,” Bage said.
About 70 percent of the fund’s projects are located in marginal areas, often being affected by desertification. Over the last 23 years, they have pumped in $3.5 billion to help dry and desertified regions from China to Mauritania.
Yet in many African countries, women are denied land ownership and do not even have the right to plant trees or build sand control measures. They also often farm the worst, most marginal land. And it is hard for them to get collateral for bank loans to improve their land.

“We have a policy and a goal to include a gender dimension in all the projects we’re involved in. It is key,” said Bage, a Swede with more than 25 years in international development. And aid must be directed in a culturally appropriate way, taking into account local conditions, especially the role women play in society,” he said.
“The disregard for local knowledge and local commitment … is one of the main reasons for the failure of so much well intentioned aid.”
But desertification is still a problem that has not been beaten.
“In some areas we’re winning, but in some areas we’re losing,” he said. ” It’s certainly a losing battle in some of the poorest parts of the world.”

from: Ben Blanchard, Reuters

In the NEWS pages you can find actual stories about the water problem:
Biofuels worsen Hungary’s drought
Egypt plan to green Sahara  

and more