I was happy to learn about the Running the Sahara project on Matt's blog Empathy. On November 1, 2006 three men began their journey running the distance of about two marathons a day across the Sahara. They will be running across six countries and nine ecosystems. A major portion of the proceeds from the project go toward H2O Africa who's mission is to support sustainable and integrated water programs in a region that gets less than 5 inches of water a year. They are sustainable, in that projects are accompanied by training and maintenance to create a program that will live for the long run. Activity will complement other programs in the region, such as education and infrastructure development, m aking them integrated.
The Sahara is the largest desert on earth and covers a land mass similar to the size of the United States. A friend of mine from Ghana which is located South of Mali told me how his showers growing up were from a tin can with slits in the top. This exemplifies how little water there is. The lack of safe drinkable water impacts people's health, leading to malnutrition and starvation becasue of lack of food. Humans aren't the only ones impacted. The Eden Foundation describes the threats to native plants and animals in the region.
Desertification is increasing globally. It affects one third of the world's surface and has an impact on the lives of one fifth of the world's population. Africa is at the greatest risk with over two thirds of its landmass being desert or drylands. Learn more watching UNEP's global desertification outlook video below. It highlights new opportunities for improviing livlihoods for people living in desert regions by leveraging the wind and sun to bring energy to the region.