NAIROBI, June 16 (Xinhua) -- The success of China's desert control interventions is an inspiration to African countries battling land degradation linked to human activities and climatic shocks, a Kenyan scholar said ahead of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought to be marked Saturday.
Gerishon Ikiara, an international relations scholar and former permanent secretary in Kenya's Ministry of Transport, believed that China has set the pace in desert control, offering vital lessons to African nations.
During his numerous visits to China both as a government official and scholar, Ikiara said he was impressed by the Asian country's determination to reverse desertification by harnessing home-grown innovations.
"The first time I went to China, there were many patches that were very dry. The last time I was there, the country had been transformed in terms of change of the environment," Ikiara said during a recent interview with Xinhua.
He observed that courtesy of ingenuity and a people-centered approach to conservation, China has been able to reclaim its landscapes including hills and mountains through planting trees.
Despite rapid industrialization, China has also initiated bold steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions, manage waste and sustain the health of vital ecosystems, Ikiara noted.
He hailed joint China-Africa programs on the environment, adding that such cooperation will enable both sides to share expertise on halting the spread of deserts and responding to the climate crisis.
Ikiara, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, said the implementation of infrastructural projects domiciled within the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative has also injected vitality into Africa's green aspirations. He cited the Chinese-built 480-km Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway and the 27.1-km Nairobi Expressway for easing urban mobility and reducing carbon emissions in Kenya.
Ikiara said that through collaboration with China, African states will be well-placed to tackle plastic waste pollution that has taken a toll on aquaculture besides expanding the size of restored landscapes.
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, which is celebrated annually on June 17, seeks to raise awareness of the threats posed by deserts and drought and how to manage the twin ecological challenges rampant in the global south.
This year's theme is "Her Land. Her Rights," which aims at advancing gender equality to restore land and build resilience.
Ikiara noted that as an epicenter of desertification, fueled by climate change and poor land use practices, Africa has an obligation to tackle the ecological crisis urgently so as to achieve sustainable development. He added that multilateralism is crucial to overcoming desertification and other climate-induced challenges like recurrent droughts, habitat loss, and drying of water sources. ■