Ecosystem Management

Sustainable Dryland Landscapes in Africa and the Middle East

Closing the Knowledge-policy implementation gap in Drylands

Sustainable Land Management (SLM) is a low investment priority for most dryland developing countries. Yet in these countries increasing demand for agricultural commodities, weak natural resource governance and climate change converge to undermine a finite and diminishing land endowment. Desertification—land degradation in the drylands—contributes greatly to poverty and vulnerability in the drylands by eroding economic potential and undermining the ecosystem services that support livelihoods and sustainable development. Paradoxically many dryland countries have enabling policies that can support sustainable land management, yet they are implemented poorly or not at all. In many cases poor implementation is influenced by low awareness of the opportunities and appropriate solutions for the drylands as well as limited capacity of government and local development partners. Closing these knowledge and policy implementation gaps provides an important means to move forward in partnership with government.

Theory of Change

If supportive policies exist and good practices are available, these can be translated into wide-spread adoption provided there are adequate knowledge, capacity and motivation. This includes knowledge of the policy options as well as the good practices and the investment opportunities. It includes the capacity to implement good practices, to understand and communicate the multiple values of SLM, to mobilize resources and to access markets. It also includes the motivation provided by greater accountability to local demands as well as greater awareness of why SLM is important and where the investment opportunities lie. This project therefore aims to enhance greater policy implementation in support of Sustainable Land Management in the drylands of participating countries. Our assessment is that policies exist in each country that allow more sustainable management of drylands—particularly communally managed drylands—but the challenge lies in implementing these policies. The emphasis of the project is therefore on gathering the available evidence of what works, raising awareness and building capacity for implementation. 

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