Mainstreaming of drylands and environmental issues into national development strategies

Photo: UNDP

Drylands mainstreaming is a systematic practice and culture to integrate drylands issues in all decision-making processes, policies, laws and regulations, institutions, technologies, standards, planning frameworks and programmes, budgeting processes and ensuring that they continue to be part of the agenda in subsequent decision making processes, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and learning.

Programmes on mainstreaming of drylands issues into national development frameworks are under implementation in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab States, with financial support from European Union, Governments of Denmark, Finland and Norway, namely: Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Tunisia, Sudan and Uganda.

The projects aim to mainstream drylands developmental issues and priorities identified in National Action Programmes (NAPs) to Combat Desertification into their national development and planning frameworks. The component focuses on capacity building, i.e., assisting countries in mainstreaming and integrating NAPs into their national development frameworks based on needs and gaps identified.

Additionally it is promoting policy dialogue on mainstreaming at the global, national and local levels; developing appropriate tools and methodologies for mainstreaming at national and local levels and will apply these to concrete programme development and implementation of identified priorities in the targeted countries. It will champion and promote learning, knowledge sharing and exchange of experiences and best practices amongst countries; bring these to bear upon and inform policy and programme formulation related to drylands development and establish effective networks and partnerships for implementation at all levels. It will also support the dissemination of lessons learnt on mainstreaming of drylands development issues into major development and planning frameworks at global, national, district and sectoral levels and at the Conference of the Parties (COP)/ Committee for the Review of the Convention (CRIC) sessions and other international fora.

Mainstreaming Projects at a Glance

Benin has developed its second generation Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP; Stratégie National de Croissance pour la Réduction de la Pouvreté) through a process known as “greening”. Greening the PRSP aims to ensure environmental sustainability in the national development process by promoting the concrete policy measures targeted to mainstream environment and drylands issues in plans, programmes and projects. In line with this process, the project focuses on awareness raising and capacity development of women's groups in sustainable drylands management and desertification control.

The project also facilitated the process of integrating the drylands issues in the school curriculum in the selected localities. In addition, 180 students from different schools were selected and trained as Child Ambassadors for the Environment. They are designated to lead the tree planting initiatives and sensitization of their peers, parents, teachers, etc., on the importance of protecting their environment as the main source of food, fuel and other ecosystems services for generations to come.

Ghana has developed a Handbook for Mainstreaming Drylands Issues into District Development Plans. The handbook provides practical steps for mainstreaming drylands issues into development plans of District Assemblies using the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). The handbook is under use in 24 Drylands Districts participating in the mainstreaming programme.

Six of out of the 24 Districts are also implementing income generating activities under an integrated community livelihoods support component, such as Guinea fowl production, economic tree plantation,  small ruminant production, woodlot establishment and creation of riverine vegetation.

Mozambique has developed a Guidebook on Drought and Desertification. The Guidebook is expected to be used by the local administration, staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and other sectors for mainstreaming the development of arid and semi arid areas. The goal is to incorporate the approaches and methodologies in the guidebook in the arid and semi-arid land development activities carried out by the District Administration. The project also supports the community-based organization in their environmental awareness raising efforts through local radio programmes.

Uganda has developed the Guidelines for Mainstreaming Drylands Issues into District Development Plans.  They provide direction on how to mainstream drylands issues into policies, plans, programmes and budgeting process of local government for the effective contribution of drylands to poverty reduction and sustainable development.  The implementation of the Guidelines was piloted in Sebambule district, where drylands concerns and agendas have been integrated into Parish Environment Action Plan (PEAP), Sub-county District Environment Action Plan (SEAP) and further to District Environment Action Plan (DEAP). Building on the successful experience in Sebambule, the project is currently supporting the process of mainstreaming dryland issues into PEAP, SEAP and DEAP planning processes in six other drylands cattle corridor districts.

In the context of TerraAfrica, Uganda is finalizing the development of a Country Strategic Investment Framework (CSIF) on Sustainable Land Management (SLM).  The CSIF is an Investment Framework which seeks to integrate all country SLM initiatives under a harmonized platform to improve coordination among the different SLM stakeholders in Government, development partners, NGOs and civil society.

In Morocco, the project was channelled through the Programme to Combat Rural Poverty, Desertification and Drought (PAL-PDS Programme). PAL-PDS supported the implementation of key national strategies/programmes, including the 2020 Rural Development Strategy and the National Human Development Initiative. Cross-cutting training efforts conducted within the framework of the PAL-PDS have allowed a major thinking around the national policies and strategies and facilitated the integration of aspects related to combating desertification within these strategies such as the map for desertification prone areas and the Regional Action Plans for combating desertification.

Support in Tunisia was directed to institutional mechanisms (National Desertification Committee and Regional Committees) and building the capacity of local stakeholders in sustainable natural resources management and the implementation of local development initiatives. An important milestone includes the elaboration of sub-national or Regional Action Programmes (RAP) four governorates (Kef, Kasserine, Siliana and Zaghouane).

The project advocated at the national level for the integration of RAPs in the 11th plan. Project efforts have been successful at two levels: 1) building capacity for integrated planning at the regional level towards the preparation of comprehensive Regional Action programmes and 2) The integration of a big number of projects in the 11th plan, the main development framework/plan of the country. This integration greatly supports the implementation of the National Action Programmes for the UNCCD in Tunisia and allows for better synergy between sectoral strategies and integrated drylands development activities.