German development cooperation assists threatened and affected states in combating desertification and land degradation. The following examples of projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as supraregional programmes, illustrate the various experiences of GIZ at the forefront of the battle against desertification

CCD project


Taking action to combat desertification

In 1999, by way of contributing to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Germany launched the Convention Project to Combat Desertification (CCD Project) under the umbrella of GIZ. The project develops strategies and instruments for the implementation of the Convention. It advises BMZ in international policy dialogue and works closely with international institutions such as the UNCCD Secretariat in Bonn, the Global Mechanism (GM) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GIZ project fosters innovative approaches to sustainable land use in selected partner countries.

The aims of the UNCCD can only be achieved if all relevant government and non-governmental actors work together on its implementation. That is why mainstreaming the substance and standards of the Convention in all relevant national policy areas and in German development cooperation is an important focus of the work of GIZ’s CCD Project.

Another key area in combating desertification is raising awareness among people in countries that are not directly affected. For that reason the CCD Project provides information not only to policy-makers, but also to experts and the wider public in Germany and other donor countries.

Examples from Central Asia


Regional cooperation strengthens national implementation

Problems such as desertification and water scarcity do not stop at national borders. In order to promote transboundary exchange of experience, Germany is also supporting regional initiatives for combating desertification and for sustainable land management.

An ambitious example of regional cooperation can be seen in the Central Asian Countries Initiative for Land Management (CACILM), a joint initiative between five countries. In this first instance of transboundary collaboration, an entire region is being assisted by a group of donors in implementing the UN Convention and carrying out concrete measures to combat desertification.

The German government’s contribution to this cooperation is the development and implementation of local strategies for combating desertification in the five countries. As part of national and regional cooperation proven solutions are disseminated effectively across a wide area.

The impacts of the programme are apparent in around ten projects in central Asia. In all five countries an increasing number of successfully tested initiatives for conserving resources are already available for replication regionally. Some of these have been handed over to the respective national government and are being used to improve the statutory and regulatory frameworks.

Project description: Sustainable use of natural resources in Central Asia
Klimatolerante Rehabilitierung degradierter Großlandschaften in Georgien

Reafforestation in Tajikistan

In 2008 a Joint Forest Management approach was introduced in Tajikistan with the aim of rehabilitating the degraded forests and thus improving the lives of the indigenous people who depend on this resource.

In this approach the local, previously illegal users are granted property and use rights by means of leases. This then motivates them to invest in the rehabilitation of forest resources.

To date this initiative has been implemented in three districts in the east of Tajikistan (Pamir region). There, 408 local users have been granted property and use rights, and already sustainable reafforestation has taken place in an area of 1826 hectares. At the same time advice has been given on introducing a new reform of the forestry sector, in which sustainable use of the forest as a resource is enshrined.


Green Economy

Economic growth has to take sustainable management of natural resources into account. Failure to do so has disastrous consequences. Global energy consumption and use of resources are rising dramatically. Western-style consumption models are not sustainable, not least because the world’s population is growing and people in developing countries and emerging economies also aspire to the consumption-oriented way of life.

The Green Economy initiative attempts to counteract this trend and reflects the sustainability principle. It takes account of the interplay between industry, society and the environment – without a balance between these three dimensions no socially or environmentally positive development is possible. That is why many institutions and organisations are involved in driving economic growth forward towards a green economy and in showing by doing so that poverty reduction and resource conservation are not mutually exclusive.

On the basis of this initiative and as part of the ‘Sustainable use of natural resources in Central Asia’ project funded by BMZ, a value chain for marketing sustainably produced firewood is being developed in Tajikistan.

Information brochure of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development on 'Green Economy'.

Green Economy, Bonn 2011 (1.1 MB, EN)

Examples from Africa


West Africa – Mali: Pilot project to integrate adaptation to climate change and community planning

As in most African countries, the majority of the population in the rural areas of Mali lives from farming, forestry and livestock rearing. The over-exploitation of these natural resources is increasingly causing their degradation. Moreover, Mali is among the countries most affected by climate change.

As part of the Malian government’s decentralisation policy, communities now have responsibility for planning and implementing development measures. This is being done through local development plans.

As an instrument firmly enshrined in law, these local development plans serve as a basis for discussing the impacts of climate change with communities and working together to identify suitable measures. To do this, local knowledge needs to be mobilised. Since the people living in dry regions have in any case always been subjected to a certain variability in the climate, there are already technologies and approaches that can be used in local adaptation to climate change.

The methodological approach of integrating adaptation to climate change into community planning is based on the ‘Climate Proofing for Development’ instrument developed by GIZ. By incorporating this instrument into local planning in six pilot communities it has been possible not only to raise awareness of climate change issues among actors but also to identify and implement practical adaptive measures in sustainable land management.

These positive experiences have been analysed with the Malian Agency for Environment and Sustainable Development and will be disseminated in next three years.


Incorporating the concept of climate change adaption into municipal planning – Initial experiences in Mali (pdf, 0.97 MB, EN)

Examples from Latin America and the Caribbean


Caribbean/Central America: Combating desertification

More than a quarter of the land in Central America and the Caribbean is affected by desertification. In the Dominican Republic, for example, the area under forest has declined by over 60 per cent in the last 100 years. In Haiti only 2 per cent of the land still has vegetation cover, and every year the country loses 37 million tonnes of fertile soil.

That is why between 2003 and 2009 GIZ, under contract from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, assisted selected countries in the region in their efforts to implement the UNCCD. In Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Honduras the project supported the development and implementation of the National Action Programme. A focus of this was improved negotiation and cooperation between government and non-governmental institutions at local and national level.

For the Dominican region bordering Haiti an inter-institutional working group (Grupo Técnico Inter-Institucional) has been established, which is a national coordination body steering implementation of the Convention in the Dominican Republic. In Honduras, too, a similar coordinating body has been formed to implement the Convention. A particular success in Honduras is the close linkage of the National Action Programme with the National Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).


Brazil : Tackling desertification at all levels

North-east Brazil is the most densely populated dryland on earth and Brazil’s poorhouse. Rapidly advancing desertification is threatening the livelihoods of the impoverished people who live in this region. From 2004 to 2010, through an integrated regional development programme, German development cooperation supported the implementation of the UNCCD in the north-east of the country. One of the priorities of the programme was to bring all those involved and affected to the table in order to develop common strategies to tackle desertification.

This has met with considerable success: amongst other things National Programmes with funding volumes of more than 200 million euros have been adapted to the specific conditions of the semi-arid areas and the needs of small-scale farming, and incomes have been raised, especially in disadvantaged regions. In addition, almost 60,000 farmers in the semi-arid region have achieved higher incomes from supplying the biodiesel programme. However, it is not only farmers who have benefited from this regional development; overall a positive economic situation has been achieved for all involved.

Brazil - Combating desertification on all levels (pdf, 1.41 MB)

Peru: Pilot project to combat desertification in Piura

Peru is one of the countries in Latin America most severely affected by desertification. Around 90 per cent of the country’s population lives in the dry areas threatened by desertification. Included in these is the Piura Province in the semi-arid and arid region on the northern coast. Here in particular clearing of the dry forest, inappropriate forms of land use and bush and forest fires are causing land degradation.

Together with the GIZ programme 'Sustainable Rural Development in Peru', the CCD Project is supporting the regional government of Piura in its efforts towards sustainable land management. The aim is better integration of sustainable land management in development and budget planning. Economic valuation approaches deliver important information for policy-makers, while tangible measures to combat desertification showcase their positive impacts on food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. The measures are implemented in close cooperation with the Peruvian Environment Ministry, which uses these experiences to develop national strategies and policies.

Project description: Sustainable Rural Development (Peru)


Walter Engelberg
Phone: +49 228 4460-3441
Fax: +49 228 4460-803441