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Volume 77: debated on Monday 15 April 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what studies are being financed by his Department into the problem of increasing desertification of the regions south of the Sahara.

We have commissioned research into soil moisture content in sub-Saharan Africa, at Reading university, using data from the METEOSAT Satellite; climatic trends in the Sahel currently being undertaken by the university of East Anglia; suitability of tropical hardwoods for growing in arid zones by the Commonwealth Forestry Institute at Oxford; and a simple technique to estimate direct recharge from the rainfall level to the groundwater system by geochemical methods being carried out in the Sudan by the British Geological Survey. We also support the United Nations environment programme and OECD initiatives in the area of desertification.