MASERU, Lesotho, March 5, 2014 – “Unless we step up practical messages to ensure that our productive lands are preserved and degraded lands restored, nothing would stop agriculture in Africa from encroaching on existing forests to meet the increasing demands for land and other resources vital for livelihoods”, stressed by Mrs.Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission during the Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai Day held in Maseru, the Kingdom of Lesotho on 03 March 2014. This is the 12th consecutive year that Maseru has hosted the commemorations since 2002, when they were adopted by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Durban, South Africa.
The theme of the 2014 Africa Environment Day is Combating Desertification in Africa: Enhancing Agricultural Productivity and Food Security, which aims to raise awareness on desertification and sustainable land management among all stakeholders at community, national, regional and continental levels.
During her remarks, Mrs. Tumusiime highlighted the need for rational utilization of natural resources including water and land in order to secure agricultural development in Africa. The Commissioner recalled that 2014 is the African Union Year of Agriculture and Food Security and the tenth Anniversary of the existence of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which has sustainable and water management as one of its pillars. “Sustainable environmental management is, indeed, fundamental to the pursuit of food security, peace, security and stability in Africa”, she added. (The full speech of the Commissioner is available on http://www.au.int).
Representing the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Mr. Gaoju Han, underscored the vital role of healthy a environment in the daily lives of human beings. He further said, “The wealth of Africa depends on her ability to conserve and manage her land resources. It is a well known fact that soil degradation not only results in decreased food production but also in droughts, ecological imbalance and consequent degradation of the quality of life”, he said.
Officially marking the commemoration event, Hon. Khotso Matla, Minister of Forestry and Land Reclamation, Kingdom of Lesotho emphasized the harmony between the human being and the environment as an essential requirement for sustainable national or global development.
The 2014 commemoration of the African Environment and Wangari Maathai Day in Lesotho was marked by an awareness raising media workshop from 1-2 March 2014 on the challenges of desertification and sustainable land management in Africa; tree planting, as well as a field visit to school children and models of good land management practice areas among others.
SOURCE: African Union Commission (AUC)