The Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry kicked off a training project for officials from African countries against desertification on Monday. A total of 77 people from Uganda, Kenya, Somalia and other African countries will attend the training program in three Turkish cities until June 5.
The training, held jointly with the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), a state-run development aid agency, aims to help Africa fight against the phenomenon of desertification, which is threatening agricultural and water resources. The program was enacted at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification held in Ankara last year.
Speaking at the launch of the training program on Monday in the central city of Konya, Hanifi Avcı, director of the ministry's Combating Desertification and Erosion Department, said the desertification was not a merely a technical matter - as it has a humanitarian aspect tied to the displacement of many people who starve due to the lack of agricultural areas. Avcı said Turkish and African officials will share their experiences to build capacity and generate solutions. Markus Repnik, managing director of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), said at the event that the training would be a great opportunity for the participants, adding that Turkey has become a leader in the fight against desertification.
On the first day of training, participants visited planting work by the Konya municipality and visited sites where measures against erosion were implemented while Turkish experts informed them on anti-desertification techniques in semi-arid agricultural areas.
The participants will visit the southern city of Mersin tomorrow where they will meet villagers and make field trips to see irrigation applications. The training program will wrap up in Adana, another southern city, where they will visit tree planting work for dune protection.
Desertification threatens millions of people in several countries. Moreover, in its ongoing state, it can drive more people to displacement, especially at a time of an escalated refugee flow into Europe from conflict-ridden countries, the worst influx since World War II. The phenomenon affects more than 250 million people in the world. A further 1.2 billion people in 110 countries are under threat from desertification.