Desertification is the process by which fertile land becomes desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture.
Desertification is associated with a number of negative effects and therefore it is undesirable. This is because of the following:
- It may lead to crop failure or low crop yields hence leading to famine and human suffering. In sub – Saharan Africa it has been a major cause of famine. This is because of the prolonged dry seasons and recurring droughts which lead to crop failure and consequently food shortages resulting into human suffering and death due to hunger, starvation and disease.
- The resultant decreasing rains may prompt irrigation. Consequently this may lead to salination of the soils, which is also a form of soil degradation.
- The high or increasing temperatures are unconducive for human settlement as well as human activities such as cultivation.
- The degradation or deterioration of the natural vegetation may cause a decrease in forestry products and a reduction in the ability of the natural vegetation to protect the environment.
- It encourages soil erosion and creates conducive conditions not only for run off water erosion but also wind erosion.
- It may lead to the encroachment of sand dunes due to wind erosion and such sand dunes are normally unsuitable for human activities such as cultivation.
- It may result into the disappearance of some drainage features such as small streams and wetlands due to excessive evaporation and yet these drainage features play important roles i.e. both protective and productive roles.
- Leads to the destruction of the natural habitat for wildlife and hence reduced biodiversity. This is because desertification leads to a change in the physical environment such as reduced vegetation cover, increased temperatures and reduced wetlands. It also destroys the natural habitat for a variety of wildlife.