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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

International photo contest highlights effects of climate change and encroaching deserts

© Despair (1999) – Kushal Gangopadhyay
First-prize winner from the First UNCCD International Photo Contest in 2005 – shot by Kushal Gangopadhyay in Piali Village, West Bengal, India – shows a young girl holding an empty water pot in a drought-stricken area.

NEW YORK, USA, 9 April 2009 – The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCDD) has issued a call for photographers to participate in the Second UNCCD International Photo Contest – part of a global effort to raise awareness about the issues of land degradation and desertification in drylands, and their social consequences.

“Without proper action, both in developing and developed countries, some 50 million people could be displaced by desertification and land degradation within the next 10 years,” UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja warned at an international conference on these issues late last year.

UNCCD works with other UN agencies, scientists, non-governmental organizations, civil society and local communities – as well as the governments of the 193 parties to the Convention – to prevent and reverse the encroachment of deserts in once-fertile regions, and to mitigate the effects of drought.

Effects on child growth and development
Climate change experts predict that warming and shifting rains could affect crop production, which could reduce food availability. Already, more than a third of children globally are either moderately or severely underweight.

Moreover, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that malnutrition and associated disorders – including those relating to child growth and development – could increase as the global climate changes. Reduced supplies of clean water in some areas could also add to the burden on rural women and girls, who are usually responsible for collecting water for cooking and washing.

Indeed, as noted in a 2007 UNICEF report, ‘Children and Climate Change’, environmental problems such as land degradation and desertification potentially make all of the Millennium Development Goals less achievable – slowing efforts to eradicate poverty, improve health and protect the environment.

Contest rules and guidelines
To highlight the urgent need for action, UNCCD’s photo contest seeks images that depict the efforts of people conserving soil, land or water in drylands, which cover some 40 percent of the world’s land surface and in which nearly 2 billion people live. Photos can also illustrate the relationship between affected communities and ecosystems in these areas.

The contest jury includes, among others, Mali’s Minister for the Promotion of Women, Youth and Family, Maïga Sina Damba; world-renowned photographer Michael Martin; National Geographic Germany editor Jürgen Nakoff; and French environmentalist Nicolas Hulot.

The first-prize winner will receive a prize of 1,500 euros and will be invited to participate in an award ceremony during the UNCCD’s Convention of the Parties, to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in late September. The second- and third-prize winning contestants will receive 1,000 and 500 euros, respectively.

Photos should be submitted by e-mail by 17 June 2009, the World Day to Combat Desertification. Click here for complete contest rules and submission guidelines.



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