Hot Desert LEDC Case Study - Geography GCSE

The Thar Desert India case study

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  • Created by: Né M
  • Created on: 06-06-12 14:57


Location: The Thar Desert, Rajasthan, India

Rainfall is the desert is low - between 120-240mm a year
Summer temperatures can reach over 50degrees C

Most of the desert is sandy hills with mobile sand dunes and small amounts of vegetation.

The soil is sandy and not very fertile- due to the little orgaing matter in them
-there is little surface water as the soil drains quickly

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Economic Opportunities - Farming

Subsistence Farming

  • Most people living in the desert are involved in subsistence farming, however: 
    -the climate presents huge challenges, as the rainfall is unreliable so there are frequent droughts
    Most farming is subsistence farming, though some crops are sold at local markets 
  •  The 'Kohlis Tribe' are hunter-gatherers, surviving in the desert by hunting animals and gathering fruit and natural products. This is the most basic form of farming and is very rare.

Irrigation and commercial farming

  • The main form of irrigation in the desert is the Canal
    -Over 3500m^2 is under irrigation
  • Commercial farming producing crops such as wheat and cotton flourishes in the area.
  • The canal provides drinking water to many people in the desert
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Economic Opportunities - Mining and Industry, and

Mining and Industry

  • The area has a rich supply of minerals
  • There are valuable reserves of substances which can be used in industry, such as to make Cement, Plaster, Ceramics, Fertiliser and for whitening paper
  • There are valuable reserves of stone in the area
    -Limestone is particularly important in India's steel industry
    -The Limestone can also be used for producing cement


  • The area is increasingly popular with tourists
    -the landscapes are beautiful
    -desert safaris on camels are popular with foreigners as well as wealthy Indians
  • Locals benefit by acting as guides or looking after camels.
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Future Challenges

  • Population Pressure: The Thar Desert is the densely populated desert in the world
    -the high population puts pressure on the fragile desert ecosystem, leading to overgrazing and overcultivating
  • Water Management: excessive irrigation in areas has lead to waterlogging
    In these areas, Salinisation occurs - salts poisonous to plants are deposited on the surface
    -excessive water demand has caused an unsustainable fall in the water tables 
  • Soil erosion:  overgrazing and overcultivating have damaged the vegetation, leading to soil erosion from the wind and rain
  • Fuel: reserves of firewood are dwindling, so people use manure as fuel rather than a fertiliser to improve soil quality
  • Tourism: the environment is fragile and will suffer is tourism is overdeveloped
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Sustainable Management

In 1977 the Desert Development Programme was started to provide the people with a sustainable future. The main aims were to:

  • restore the ecological balance, by conserving, developing and harnessing land, water, livestock and human resources

In Rajasthan, it has been particularly concerned with developing forestry and sand stabilisation

  • Forestry: The 'Prosopis cineraria' is the most important tree in the desert
    -it is well suited to the hostile conditions and has multiple uses
    -Scientists developed a breed of plum from a Ber tree, which produces large fruits, even with low rainfall conditions. 
    -The fruits could be sold for a profit
  • Stabilising Sands:  In some areas, the mobile sand dunes form a threat to farmland, roads and waterways.
    -Approaches have been made to stabilise the dunes, such as planting blocks of trees and belts of trees and fences along roads and canals.
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