ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi emphasized the need to join hands with regional countries, in particular, and the rest of the world, in general, to save the globe from droughts to ensure our food security. The president, in his message on the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought annually observed on June 17, said the impact of drought could be mitigated by developing water sources, such as micro dams, ponds and wells, water rationing and restoring pastures. It could also be addressed by recovering the water holding capacity of soils by tree plantation, protecting riverbanks, shifting to drought-tolerant crops and relocation of herds from vulnerable pastures, he added. The president said this year’s Desertification and Drought Day observed around the slogan “Rising Up from Drought Together”, would send a strong message to the drought-prone countries to join hands. He said the day also called for reiterating their commitment to encourage households, communities, the private sector and countries to act together to tackle the immediate impacts of the drought and build long-term resilience. President Alvi said many countries around the world, including Pakistan, were experiencing periodic low and unpredictable rainfall over an extended period of time due to climate change and degradation of land. He said the countries were also facing the deforestation, and over-exploitation of farmlands and grasslands which were contributing factors to crop failure, water stress, land degradation and low growth performance. “We need to adopt cogent drought policies at the federal and provincial levels, launch a well-thought-out and coordinated drought action plan, implement comprehensive drought-management strategies, improve water security through groundwater recharge, create more water reservoirs, ensure water availability, and enhance forest cover throughout the country,” the president remarked. He said Pakistan was working in many areas to mitigate the impact of drought, which included the implementation of a national-level programme to plant 3.29 billion plants over an area of one million hectares in desertification and drought-prone areas. The country had also launched the Protected Areas Initiative to preserve the natural flora and fauna and was making all-out efforts to achieve the voluntary Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Targets by 2030. According to the United Nations, the droughts are increasing in frequency and severity, up 29% since 2000, with 55 million people affected every year. Exacerbated by land degradation and climate change, droughts may affect an estimated three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050. It’s a global and urgent issue.