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Desertification affects about one-sixth of the world’s population, 70 percent of all drylands and one-quarter of the total land area in the world. The most obvious impacts of desertification are: poverty; the degradation of 3.3 billion hectares of the total area of rangeland; a decline in soil fertility and soil structure; and the degradation of irrigated cropland.

The Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) was formally adopted on 17 June 1994, and opened for signature at a ceremony in Paris on 14-15 October 1994. The Convention takes an innovative approach in recognizing: the physical, biological and socioeconomic aspects of desertification; the importance of redirecting technology transfer so that it is demand driven; and the involvement of local populations in the development of national action programmes. The core is the national and subregional/ regional action programmes, to be developed by national governments in cooperation with donors, local populations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). To date, the Convention has 115 signatories and has been ratified by 47 countries. It will enter into force 90 days after receipt of the 50th ratification.