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Study: Desertification to Reach 86% in Yemen due to Climate Change

Study: Desertification to Reach 86% in Yemen due to Climate Change

Friday, 2 December, 2022 - 11:00
Yemeni researcher testing tomato plants in a greenhouse in Sanaa (Reuters)

A study prepared by the Yemeni government and the UN warned of the impact of climate change during the next few decades, alerting that it would increase desertification to 86 percent of the country's total area.

The study reviewed the impact of climate change on Yemen and was prepared by the studies department of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation.

It stated that the climate indicators and data recorded increased surface temperature in recent years due to the greenhouse gas effect.

Yemen ranked 20th among the countries that suffer from high water stress, which could increase the possibility of water poverty due to traditional irrigation systems, the qat farms that consume much water, climate change, and high emissions of greenhouse gases.

According to the study, desertification in Yemen comes in many forms and varying degrees and includes the deterioration of agricultural areas and pastures, uprooting cultivated trees, soil salinization, encroachment of dunes, and urban expansion.

It attributed the increased desertification to the scarcity of monsoon rains, droughts, and, more recently, erosion caused by flash floods.

It warned that this negatively affected vegetation cover, land productivity, shallow and groundwater, wildlife, and livestock breeding, which are primary sources of livelihood for the majority of the population.

Official data showed that the desertified land area in Yemen is about 405,000 square kilometers or 71.6 percent of the total area, and another 15.9 percent is in danger as well.

According to the study's authors, the misuse of agricultural lands, the depletion of groundwater reserves, climate changes, increased water scarcity, and frequent floods and storms have affected rural agricultural development and severely damaged agricultural resources, representing 80 percent of agricultural resources.

The rural population constitutes 74 percent of the total population of Yemen, thus increasing poverty and death rates due to malnutrition, the highest in the Arab region and the world.

The adverse effects appear more among vulnerable groups, including children, women, marginalized groups, the disabled, the elderly, and people with mental illnesses.

According to the study, the desert locust also affected about 4,609 acres of agricultural land, leading to agricultural losses estimated at $222 million.

The locusts destroyed vegetation, increased desertification, and ate crops, the primary source of livelihood, which exacerbated food insecurity, especially in dry and coastal areas.

The study indicated that Yemen suffers from high water stress in all regions, reaching 444.3 percent in the central highlands, and the extraction rate is 4.4 times higher than annual rates of replenishment, followed by Sanaa and Abyan, and then the northern highlands, while water stress reached 295 percent in Taiz governorate, which has the largest population

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