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Education Key to Rehabilitating Arid Areas of Africa

Nairobi, 26 November 2002 - The project, which is targeting dry and semi-arid lands in Kenya, Botswana and Mali, aims to educate local people, students and scientists up to Post Graduate level in the issues of land management and indigenous species conservation.

The overall aim of the project, which is being carried out by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods in these key areas and countries.

It is envisioned that the project will evolve into an African Centre for Arid Land Studies and Development where the knowledge gained from the work in Kenya, Mali and Botswana can be communicated to other students, researchers and local people living in similar, often degraded, environments.

The project, with $9 million from the GEF, has benefited from significant support from Norway. The Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation (NORAD) has contributed over $1 million.

The Department of Biology, University of Oslo, has played a key role in developing the project and is to provide scientific and technical supervision to help underpin its aims.

Land degradation was adopted as a focal point for the GEF at its Second Assembly which recently took place in Beijing, China.

Earlier this month UNEP and the GEF announced the Desert Margins Programme, a project to heal the damaged and dying lands that fringe Africa's desert regions. The Management of Indigenous Vegetation for the Rehabilitation of Degraded Rangelands in the Arid Zone of Africa, will compliment the desert margin initiative.

For more information, please contact: Eric Falt, Spokesperson/Director UNEP's Division of Communications and Public Information, on tel: 254 2 623292, E-mail: or Nick Nuttall, UNEP Head of Media, on Tel: 254 2 623084, E-mail:

In Norway, please contact: Professor Nils Christian Stenseth at the Dept of Biology, University of Oslo; email:

UNEP Information Note 2002/31