Desertification refers to the spreading, extension and encroachment of desert conditions and characteristics into neighboring areas of the world. Howe


Many authors over the 20th century have given many different definitions of desertification due to its occurrence. However, due to controversy over its encroachment and prevalence whether provoked by physical or human factors, the aspect of desertification remains reality.


  1. Critically examine the statement that desertification is largely as a result of human actions. Cameroon GCE June 2017
Desertification refers to the spreading, extension and encroachment of desert conditions and characteristics into neighboring areas of the world. However, the intensity and severity of desertification increases in semi-arid environments which form part of the tropical grassland ecosystem with very low mean annual rain fall amounts. Most affected areas are those that belong to third world countries such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Conversely, some developed countries like USA have been decertified close to 10% of its land.
Case study: Desertification in the Sahel zone

Most affected areas are the Sahel regions of Africa which is a narrow belt of semi-arid areas of the Sahara desert of North Africa. The Sahel regions lies immediately south of Africa. This covers Eritrea, parts of Somalia, Northern Ethiopia, Sudan,, Chad, Northern Cameroon, Northern central African republic, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal as can be seen below.



According to Goudie (1990) " the question has been asked whether this process desertification is caused temporary by long drought periods of high magnitude or as a result of longer-term climatic changes towards aridity, is a result of human action through man's degradation of the ecological environment in arid regions or a combination of both. Although both humans and physical factors contribute to desertification, severe and intense desertification is recently seen to be provoked by human action for his economic gains and as to meet up with the rapid growing population".
as earlier alluded, it has been argued that greater intensity of desertification is provoked by man's activities for his economic gains.
  • Deforestation.: The removal of natural vegetation without replacing them for fuel and agricultural reasons expose the land and increases Albedo/ reflectivity and further increases drought and desertification.
  • Over grazing: The too much stocking of animals  on limited land surfaces that surpasses its carrying capacity leads to greater pressure on environmental resources such as vegetation
  • Over cultivation: Continuous  cultivation of crops on a piece of land rapidly exhausts soil nutrients and render it infertile.
  • Poor irrigational practices: I should be noted that the major triggers to land degradation in irrigated areas is water logging and salinization.
Natural or physical factors are;
  • Climate change and global warming: The  overall rise in world atmospheric temperature as a result of climate change and global warming provoked by build up of green house gases.
  • Drought: This refers to a long period of absence of rainfall due to rain fall deficiencies.


Desertification has brought about many consequences such as;
  • Famine: increase hunger and food shortages have increased human suffering due to desertification.
  • Migration
  • Increase death rate 
  • Crop failure and food shortages
  • poverty
Solutions to desertification
  • Afforestation and re-afforestation. This involves the planting and replanting of trees which will reduce wind, erosion, hold soil soil together. This is highly practiced in Northern Cameroon under Operation Green Sahel.
  • Reducing Birth rate, so as to check over population.
  • Modernization of farming practices
  • Reducing the number of animals per unit area

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