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The Desert Margins Program (DMP) is a collaborative effort convened by ICRISAT that unites nine African countries straddling the desert margins that ring the heart of Africa: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, South Africa and Zimbabwe. A large proportion of the 120 million inhabitants of these countries depend on farming and livestock-raising for their food supplies and income. But rainfall is low and unreliable in these areas, while human and livestock populations are increasingdepleting the land of its vegetative cover, and exposing its soils to erosion and biodiversity loss. This traps people in a cycle of poverty.

The goal of the DMP is to help these countries arrest land degradation through more sustainable practices and systems that improve livelihoods. The DMP pursues this goal through partnership-based research-for-development activities, demonstration to farmers, and capacity-building.

International, regional and local partners

In addition to ICRISAT as convenor and active participant, the nine DMP countries are assisted by four other Centers of the Future Harvest Alliance of Centers supported by the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research): ICRAF, ICRISAT, IFDC, ILRI and TSBF-CIAT (acronyms defined here). In addition, three advanced research institutes from the developed world contribute their expertise in specific areas (CEH, CIRAD and IRD). Regional networks (ASARECA, CORAF, and SADC-FANR) and non-governmental organizations are also core participants. For definitions of these acronyms and a full list of partners, go to the Partnerships link at the top of this page.


The DMP is governed by a Steering Committee that meets yearly, under the aegis of ICRISAT's Governing Board. The DMP's hub is a Coordination Unit based at ICRISAT's station near Niamey, Niger. National Coordinating Committees perform the analogous function in each country.


The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has committed US$11 million to the DMP, and subject to the expected satisfactory progress, will provide another US$5 million in 2007. This complements a $15 million commitment from the nine countries, plus $19 million committed by other development investors: Denmark (DANIDA), the European Union (EU), France, GEF, Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), Japan, Norway, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Summing these figures, the DMP is a $50 million effort over the period 2002-2008.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the GEF Implementing Agency for the DMP. ICRISAT is the project Executing Agency.


The GEF support since 2002 has shifted the DMP into high gear. It was made possible through an intensive, participatory project development phase supported by ICRISAT, GEF and UNEP during 2001. But the roots of the program trace back to 1993. That history is recounted here.

Learn about the DMP logo

For more information contact:

The Desert Margins Global Coordination Office
BP 12404


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