China helps Africans fend off sprawling desert

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In a village of Nigeria's Kano state, Chinese scientists have joined their African counterparts in setting up a research base for desertification control and sand-related industries.

The 10-hectare research base is part of an African aid project jointly sponsored by Gansu Desert Control Research Institute (GDCRI) and the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said GDCRI's head Liu Shizeng.

Chinese and Nigerian researchers at the base will carry out forestation experiments and desertification control cooperation, hoping to nurture shelterbelts and foster sand-related industries to restore local ecology and boost economic growth, said Liu.

Chinese scientists also plan to build a climate observation station in Kano state, he said.

The locations of the research base and observation station were chosen during the Chinese scientists' first field trip to Kano in June, said Liu.

"We have also provided training to about 200 officials and technicians in Kano state on desertification control, ecological restoration and forestation techniques," he said.

According to research findings by Liu and his colleagues, desertification has been deteriorating in Nigeria, as a result of the fast-growing population, excessive pasturing and drought. "We'll provide technical assistance to help the country boost its desertification control capacities," said Liu.

The same project is also being conducted in several other desert countries including Kenya, Egypt, Algeria and Niger. "We're collecting data of these countries to map out detailed plans, and have completed a field trip to Kenya."

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2013, according to Liu.

Apart from desertification control, Gansu province has also provided training on solar appliance, wind power and rainwater saving and utilization for African countries.

Like Africa, China is struggling to fend off sprawling deserts in its western regions, particularly Gansu and Xinjiang.

According to statistics from the State Forestry Administration, China has a desert area of 2.6 million square kilometers, which accounts for 27 percent of its total land area.

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