“The sight of rolling dark clouds of sand and dust engulfing everything in their path and turning day into night is one of nature’s most intimidating spectacles. It is a costly phenomenon that wreaks havoc everywhere from Northern and Central Asia to sub-Saharan Africa,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD’s executive secretary.

“Sand and dust storms present a formidable challenge to achieving sustainable development. However, just as sand and dust storms are exacerbated by human activities, they can also be reduced through human actions,” Xinhua quoted Thiaw as saying.

While sand and dust storms are a prevalent and seasonal natural phenomenon in some regions, the problem is exacerbated by poor land and water management, droughts, and climate change, according to UNCCD experts.