Women and sack gardening


Photo credit: Takepart

Residents of the Kibera slum in Kenya tend to vegetables planted in sack gardens. (Photo: Tony Karumba/Getty Images)


Across Africa, a New Kind of Container Garden Is Changing Women’s Lives

Growing food in sacks uses fewer resources and less labor and provides high yields too.

by Sarah McColl sarahmccolltpbp

Some people have the talent to take a simple idea and adapt it into a solution with far-reaching benefits. Take Veronica Kanyango of Zimbabwe, a grassroots organizer who works in home-based health care and hospice for people with HIV/AIDS. She’s managed to take a couple of bags full or dirt and turn them into an agrarian movement.

“You show her a sack garden, and she’s turned it into a network of women who are producing lettuce and tomatoes for the Marriott hotel,” said Regina Pritchett of theHuairou Commission, a nonprofit that works on housing and community issues for women across Africa.

Using bags of the sort you stuffed yourself in for a race on field day—which are filled with manure, soil, and gravel—sack gardening or farming has been successfully adopted in areas of Africa where agriculture faces distinctly different challenges. It’s proved an effective way to grow food in regions with drought as well as areas prone to flooding, in rural communities and in urban slums. At the Grassroots Academy coordinated by the Huairou Commission in the spring of 2014, Pritchett said, the concept exploded.

A Great Wall of trees (the GGW)


Photo credit: Global Citizen


African nations will build a Great Wall of trees across the continent!

By Katherine Curtiss

Africa is about to get a lot greener through a new pan-African proposal called the Great Green Wall (GGW) Initiative. This plan, which is sadly not an actual wall, but rather a long strip of green collaboration, will stretch from Senegal in West Africa to Djibouti in East Africa—a total of 4,400 miles.

The Great Green Wall is not a reforestation initiative. It is a social and economic initiative aimed at improving the quality of life for populations across these Africanregions.

Physically, The Great Green Wall initiative includes an actual wall of trees that will flourish in arid regions of Africa chosen by local communities. This stretch of  land is planned to extend across the Saharan strip, its north and south borders including oases and enclaves like Cape Verde. Currently, 15% of the plan’s trees have been planted in Senegal, and 3 million trees have been planted in Burkina Faso as of late March 2016.

The initiative intends to halt the area’s desertification. When completed, the initiative will improve the area’s economic growth, food security and reduce the number of displaced peoples and refugees caused by the currently uninhabitable land.

The GGW Initiative began as an African Union idea in 2005. It was initially supported by Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo and Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade. In 2010, the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan signed up to implement the GGW.

Read the full article: Global Citizen

The GGW (2005-2016)



Africa’s Building a Wall That’s Actually Worth Building


Though a border wall with Mexico is currently a matter of serious discussion in the United States, the aim of which is to prevent the physical movement of people (with few other apparent “benefits”), some walls can actually bring together and preserve communities, rather than divide them.

In only five years, the UN says, around 60 million Africans may be displaced as their land ceases to be arable, a potential humanitarian disaster the scale of which would be unprecedented. This would be devastating to a huge portion of the African continent not only ecologically and economically but socially as well.

That’s where Africa’s ingenious Great Green Wall comes in.

Experts at the United Nations say without action, desertification may claim two-thirds of Africa’s farmlands in under a decade. The Great Green Wall, however, was conceived as a wide-reaching strategy to halt Northern Africa’s rapidly advancing Sahara Desert.

The Great Green Wall, once complete, will stretch an incredible 4,400 miles from Senegal in West Africa to the East African nation of Djibouti. Instead of bricks and mortar, the wall will be made of trees and other vegetation, including plants that can be eaten or used to create medicine.

Originally proposed in 2005 by Nigeria and adopted by the African Union in 2007, the massive undertaking is now approximately 15 percent complete. So far, Senegal has done the most to lead the initiative, however villages in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso have made contributions as well.

Read the full article: Care2

La réhabilitation du Barrage vert



Relance du projet de Barrage vert : Les critères du développement durable

Le secteur de l’agriculture va relancer le projet de réhabilitation du Barrage vert en intégrant les nouveaux préceptes liés au développement durable, à la lutte contre la désertification et l’adaptation  aux changements climatiques. “La désertification est un problème des plus préoccupants, aggravée par les changements climatiques. Elle menace la totalité des écosystèmes naturels par la réduction du potentiel biologique et la rupture des équilibres écologiques et socioéconomiques”, relèvent les spécialistes.

“C’est dans cette perspective que le ministère a inscrit la relance du projet de grande envergure qu’est le Barrage vert, selon les nouveaux préceptes liant le développement durable, la lutte contre la désertification et l’adaptation aux changements climatiques”, indique le ministère dans une note d’information.  C’est dans ce sens qu’une journée d’étude sur le Barrage vert, se tiendra dimanche à Boussaâda (wilaya de M’Sila) à l’occasion du 45e anniversaire de son lancement, pour faire le bilan de ce rempart réalisé entre 1970 et 1980 afin de faire face à l’avancée du désert et de discuter des perspectives du  projet de sa réhabilitation.

En guise d’élaboration d’un plan d’action permettant la protection et la réhabilitation de cet ouvrage, le ministère a confié au Bureau national d’études du développement rural (Bneder) la réalisation d’une étude portant sur sa réhabilitation et son extension. L’étude vise à “appréhender les menaces qui pèsent sur le Barrage vert, à évaluer les impacts environnementaux et sociaux de cet investissement, analyser l’apport des différents programmes de lutte contre la désertification qui y ont été menés et proposer un plan d’action opérationnel permettant la reprise et l’extension de l’ouvrage moyennant une stratégie adaptée au contexte économique, social et écologique qu’impose la réalité d’aujourd’hui”, selon le ministère. Les principales actions visées par ce plan d’action sont l’extension de la zone du barrage vert sur plus de 1,7 millions hectares (ha) au niveau de 10 wilayas. Il s’agit aussi de la réhabilitation des plantations sur plus de 159.000 ha, de l’extension forestière et dunaire sur plus de 287.000 ha, de la réalisation de bandes vertes routières sur 26.000 ha, l’extension agropastorale sur plus de 1,8 millions ha, l’aménagement et développement forestier sur plus de 295.000 ha.

Voir l’article entier: El Moudjahid

Nucleo Ricerca Desertificazione (Desertification Research Center, NRD)


Università degli Studi di Sassari


NRD is focused on developing and managing research and cooperation projects in different areas of research directly or indirectly related with desertification.

In particular, NRD researchers have been involved in the study of physical, biological and socio-economic aspects of desertification and land degradation in the Mediterranean, with particular reference to the impact of agricultural policies and agropastoral activities.

Networking and training initiatives are also an important part of NRD work. The NRD group has promoted several events and activities aiming at favouring the exchange of data and experiences at the international level and at promoting scientific training of young researchers from European and non-European Countries.



Nucleo Ricerca Desertificazione (Desertification Research Center, NRD) is a public, academic interdipartmental Center that contributes to the mission of the University of Sassari (UNISS) by promoting interdisciplinary research, networking, dissemination, awareness raising, stakeholder engagement, training and capacity building programs and development cooperation on desertification and sustainable land and water resources management.

NRD activities are inspired to the United Nation Conventions to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), for the Biological Diversity (UNCBD), the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Read the full text: UNISS


NRD aims to generate new learning spaces for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and development cooperation for researchers, engineers and administrative staff, acting as an academic scientific organization linked to international scientific networks and communities of practice targeted to sustainable land and water resources management.


Desertification in China


Photo credit: Univ. of Nottingham

The Geopolitics of Desertification in China

Written by Marijn Nieuwenhuis.

The Transformation of China’s Territory

China’s territory is in the process of historical change. And by that I mean to say that its material foundation, the very stuff of territory, is in the process of a literal transformation. I am referring to the creeping desertification that swallows every year thousands of square kilometres of productive soil.Desertification at present takes place at more than twice the pace it did during the period from 1950 to 2000. The Gobi desert alone is said to gobble up “3,600 square kilometres of grassland each year, creating powerful sandstorms, robbing farmers of food-producing land, and displacing people from their homes.”Some speak of “one of the greatest environmental disasters of our time” while others argue that it is “probably the largest conversion of productive land into sand anywhere in the world.” The State Forestry Administration has identified land desertification as “the most important ecological problem in China” and it likely that climate change only furthers that importance.

Many accounts have rightfully pointed out that the threat to the subsistence of about a third of China’s population, affecting especially those in the western and northern territories, could pose serious challenges to both political and economic stability. The total damage of desertification to the national economy is estimated at roughly RMB 54 million per year but that burden is not equally shared by all regions. Research shows that “for seriously desertified regions [in the country’s north and west]…, the loss amounts to as much as 23.16 percent of… annual GDP”. The fact that one-third of the country’s land area is eroded has led some 400 million people to struggle to cope with a lack of productive soil, destabilised climatological conditions and severe water shortages. Droughts damages “about 160,000 square kilometres of cropland each year, double the area damaged in the 1950s.” Blaming the desertification on overgrazing and bad cultivation, the state has since 2005 started to reallocate millions of people from dry and barren territories under its controversial and hotly contested “ecological migration” programme.

The sand transformation of China’s territory is furthered by decades of deforestation. Greenpeace writes that only two percent of the original forests in China have remained intact – “that’s just 55,448 square kilometres, of which only 0.1 per cent is fully protected.” Despite extraordinary efforts by the Chinese Government to reduce the rate of erosion, culminating in the largest reforestation project ever undertaken,reports showed that the “desertification trend has not fundamentally reversed.” A senior official recently was quoted saying that it would “take 300 years to turn back China’s advancing deserts at the current rate of progress.” It is not an understatement to suggest that the Government’s challenge of confronting the material transformation of its own territory is one of gigantic and unprecedented proportions. One could argue, and I would concur, that the state is faced with the material limits of its territorial politics.

A Swirling Geopolitics

Read the full article: Univ. of Nottingham





A dryland cereals improvement project ‘HOPE Phase 2’ aimed at improving productivity of sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet will be launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the Harmony Hotel on May 11, 2016. The initiative, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims at helping farmers in six sub-Saharan Africa countries – Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda, cope with the effects of drought, and reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

Given the severity of intermittent drought in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and especially in eastern and southern Africa the past three years, this project will work towards promoting sorghum and millets, which are the most inherently drought tolerant of all major staples. They are also highly valued as nutritious food due to their high levels of vitamins, protein and micronutrients that provide multiple health benefits. Finger millet, for example, has exceptionally high levels of calcium (10-40 times more than other cereals) and relatively lower energy content, making it ideal for weaning children, and for pregnant and nursing mothers. It also has a low glycemic index and so good for those suffering from diabetes.

“These crops are drought tolerant and give a good yield even with very little rain when other cereals fail. They are also nutritionally superior compared to other crops which mean that even the affected communities during drought can still get excellent nutrition that is available with the reduced harvests,” said Dr. Moses Siambi, Regional Director, ICRISAT, the lead implementing center.

Read the full article: ICRISAT