The dramatic rise in human population in this century, coupled with over-consumption and inadequate resource management, threatens the quality of life worldwide:
- World population will double by 2025; nine-tenths of these people will be born in developing countries.
- More than half the world's population is concentrated on 5% of the land; nearly 90% live on less than one-fifth of the land.
- About one billion people, one sixth of the world's population, live in arid or semi-arid lands, of whom just two-thirds practice farming.
- 90% of world food aid is directed to populations in unproductive arid zones.
- Since 1970, food production per capita has declined by at least 20% in Africa and parts of Asia due to desertification and mismanagement of fresh water.
- About 800 million people are chronically undernourished because of poverty, insufficient production, inequitable food access and political turmoil.
- Each year, an area the size of the state of Kansas is impoverished due to encroaching deserts.
- 80 of the 100 countries experiencing increased desertification are developing countries
In the coming decades, rising consumer demands and decreased water resources will create huge food gaps in the poorest countries. Unpredictable geographical and seasonal water distribution is a major factor in future food stock calculations. There is a critical international need, therefore, for improved land, water and agricultural management to increase yield and cultivable areas.
40% of global land surface is dry land, while 90% of Israel is dry land. Yet Israel is the only country in the world where the desert is receding due to innovative research and state-of-the-art management and development programs. Israeli expertise, however, remains largely restrained due to political boycott and myopic strategies of countries with expanding desertification areas.
Groups have approached the Negev Foundation from Africa, China, India, the Middle East and the United States interested in adopting Israeli arid land technology. Egypt and Morocco have already initiated their own brackish water agricultural projects with the assistance of the Ramat Negev Desert AgroResearch Center and the Institute for Applied Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Delegations from other countries have visited these institutions as well.