Approximately 70% of Africa’s population depends on its agriculture-based economy for their livelihoods, underscoring the importance of soil to the sector. Fertile soils across the continent are under threat, however, due in large part to climate change and poor land management which leads to the depletion of nutrients and soil organic matter and increased soil erosion.
During the recent European Development Days held on 7-8 June 2017 in Brussels, Belgium, the Joint Research Commission of the European Commission led a session on sustainable soil management in Africa. Panelists drew from different organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and University of Leuven. Their discussion focused on solutions to large-scale adoption, both at policy and practical levels, of key land restoration options including integrated soil fertility management alongside practices such as intercropping and agroforestry. Scientists from ICRAF presented compelling evidence on how soil restoration can contribute to improved food security and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa.
The climate change ministry has up-scaled its efforts to combat desertification in the country through sustainable land management.
This was stated by the ministry’s officials during a meeting of the Programme Steering Committee of the Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP Phase-II) here on Friday under the ministry’s leadership in partnership with UNDP, GEF and all four provinces.
The participants discussed the progress of the programme in four provinces and its achievements.
They approved the stepping up of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) up-scaling activities, which envisage SLM integrated provincial policies, technical training, effective land use planning with Geographic Information System (GIS) and implementation of climate-resilient SLM activities in partnership with communities across landscapes in the country.
Women participants with their harvest from crops grown on reclaimed land Photo: S Abdoussalam, ICRISAT
WOMEN FARMERS DOUBLE INCOMES AND ENHANCE HOUSEHOLD NUTRITION BY RECLAIMING DEGRADED LAND
In eastern Niger, 241 hectares of degraded land was converted into productive farms for 10,770 women through the Bio-reclamation of Degraded Lands (BDL) system. This has resulted in a 50% increase in agri-income over non-BDL participants. These impacts are from a mid-term evaluation study conducted at the end of three years of a five-year project.
The results were shared with the local communities in 172 villages in the district of Mayahi (Maradi region) and Kantche (Zinder region) in a series of meetings over the past few months.
The initial results of the impact evaluation conducted by the ICRISAT socio-economics team show that the BDL system had a positive effect on women by giving them access to land and increasing their income. The 0.02 hectare piece of land allocated to each woman in the BDL plot of 1 ha resulted in an average increase in the household income of women participants by 14,345 FCFA (US$26) which is approximately a 50% increase over non-BDL participants. This does not include income from the forestry component, which if added raised the average household income to US$100.
The BDL system has an agroforestry component that incorporates high-value trees and vegetables in a holistic system, with the aim of reversing damage to soils caused by overgrazing and intensive farming. It is a climate-smart technology that helps regenerate the landscape by improving soil fertility through carbon sequestration via tree roots and reducing soil erosion.
The technology developed by ICRISAT had two main components – water harvesting techniques and high-value nutritious trees and annual crops.
“Recognition of the true value of ecosystem services, and of the opportunities they offer, will enable better planning and realization of the full economic potential of dryland ecosystems, rebutting the common perception that drylands are ‘economic wastelands’” (IUCN, 2009).
Table of Contents
China: Boosting biodiversity for benefits to people and the environment 9
Jordan: Sustainable land management 15
Nicaragua: Nutrition security in the Dry Corridor in the face of El Niño 21
Senegal: What a little freshwater can do 27
Swaziland: Grass-roots governance beats overgrazing and gully erosion 32
Fresh water, the reward of land restoration, flows in Ethiopia’s dry zone
Success stories of how land restoration has transformed landscapes and livelihoods in four watersheds of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia
Fresh water — its availability or lack thereof— is a powerful signal of the health of an ecosystem.
On a whirlwind tour of four watersheds in Tigray province, located on the northernmost tip of Ethiopia, we found large and small dams full of clean water, productive boreholes and even waterfalls. People were busy harvesting heavy crops of teff and wheat, and the cows and goats around the trees looked healthy and well fed.
Land restoration has brought back water and vibrant colour to a previously bleak and desolate landscape just south of the Sahara.
The visit was arranged as part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) inaugural conference, held from 11-12 October 2016 in Addis Ababa. After discussing plans for restoring 100 million hectares of the continent’s degraded landscapes, 50 international participants were taken to Tigray see what land restoration can do for landscapes and people.
Stage 4 in the process of linking desertification and land degradation indicators to land use practices
Effective land desertification protection requires both appropriate land management practices and macro policy approaches that promote sustainability of ecosystem services. It is preferable for actions to focus on protection or prevention rather than on rehabilitation of desertified areas since such areas are usually at high stage of land degradation and the expected profitability of applying measures is low.
The priority for land users is to apply appropriate land management practices to protect the productivity of sensitive areas to desertification and thus prevent active degradation processes.
A number of indicators have been shown to be important in affecting land degradation processes or causes. Many of the indicators are for properties that cannot easily altered at farm level (such as Soil depth, Slope gradient and Rainfall seasonality). However, indicators related to land management (such as No tillage, Storage of water runoff, and Grazing control) can be changed by the farmer.
A Desertification Risk Assessment Tool has been designed to enable users to
analyse a wide range of alternatives for land management practices for reducing land desertification risk;
evaluate and select the most important indicators through which desertification risk may be assessed in a variety of locales worldwide;
develop a consensus among various groups (such as politicians, managers and experts) when assessing desertification risks.
African initiative calls for focus on land restoration
A meeting has called for a need to create evidence to restore Africa’s forests
Collaborations among universities could help generate more evidence
Governments should be committed to helping smallholders restore degraded forests
Generating sufficient scientific knowledge to restore degraded land is critical in Africa because the continent largely depends on land and other natural resources for socioeconomic development, experts say.
Most populations, it was noted at the 1st African Forest Landscape Restoration (AFR100) Regional Conference this month (11-12 October) in Ethiopia, depend on land for livelihoods, but there has been massive degradation and this calls for, among others, adequate knowledge for restoration, particularly by small-scale farmers.
“Rivers are drying, Lake Chad is gone, Lake Turkana in Kenya is receding and [thus] people have to take restoration very seriously.”
Alice Akinyi Kaudia, Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
“This requires inter-universities collaborations because not all African universities are well endowed with enough resources to generate needed knowledge and tools,” says Alice Akinyi Kaudia, environmentsecretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. “It will [also] be useful to develop centres of excellence within them to address this urgently.”
The AFR100 conference was organised by the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development, Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank, and the World Resources Institute.