Environmental degradation, responsible for the dangerous displacement of sand dunes in Mauritania, has wiped out homes, livestock and livelihoods throughout the desert country. An October UN study estimated that land degradation costs nearly USD 200 million annually in potential revenue losses and health care expenses. UN researchers calculated the value of lost cultivable land, disappearing trees and water sources, along with the health care expenses from respiratory and waterborne illnesses related to the poor management of natural resources. The final estimated price tag: 14 percent of the government budget is swallowed up by environmental degradation, or about USD 192 million.

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