Drylands and Mission Critical Research Areas for the CGIAR. A report to the CGIAR Fund Council from the Dryland Systems Task Force.
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Drylands occupy 41% of global land surface and are inhabited by more than 2.5 billion people, living mainly in developing countries with about 16% living in chronic poverty. Shockingly 42% of children less than 5 years of age in drylands of Asia and 27% in drylands of Africa are malnourished leading to stunted growth1.These are the poorest, hungriest, least healthy and most marginalized people in the world2. Converging factors including poverty and unemployment related to high population growth rates, weak governance, low inherent agricultural productivity, low levels of investment, climate change and land degradation, result in resource scarcity and the undermining of agricultural livelihoods. Dryland systems research can in the medium-long term improve agricultural livelihoods, nutrition and the environment of over 100 million dryland inhabitants and enable the wise use of ecosystem services valued at several hundred $/ha 8,9 on up to 300 million ha (10% of drylands) or 190 million ha of degraded drylands. The value proposition is based on integrated systems research, which develops and tests, with farming households and development partners, feasible combinations of technical, market, governance and policy options. Together these options improve agricultural livelihood systems.