25,000 die each day

Photo credit:

Community garden in Niou (Prov. Kourweogo, Burkina Faso) in 2009 – Project Committee Maastricht-Niou and TC-Dialogue Foundation (Belgium) started in 1988. – Soil conditioned with TC – Photo Willemien 2009 Niou Jardin Communautaire P2250398 copy 2.


Although success stories to alleviate hunger exist, 25,000 die each day – (bewing)

Commented by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)

published at: https://desertification.wordpress.com/2007/03/31/469/

In Bewing http://bewing.wordpress.com/2007/03/28/25000-die-each-day/#comment-693:


“About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. This is one person every three and a half seconds, as you can see on this display. Unfortunately, it is children who die most often.Yet there is plenty of food in the world for everyone. The problem is that hungry people are trapped in severe poverty. They lack the money to buy enough food to nourish themselves. Being constantly malnourished, they become weaker and often sick. This makes them increasingly less able to work, which then makes them even poorer and hungrier. This downward spiral often continues until death for them and their families.”

Senegal Toubacouta 2002-02
Senegal Toubacouta 2002-02

2002-02 : Toubacouta (Senegal) – Community garden for women in the Sahel region – Excellent production with only half of the normal quantity of irrigation water – Look at the dark, healthy, continuously moistened soil. –

Project TC-Dialogue with Philippe BEKAERT and Alain GOETGHEBUER (sponsors, Belgium) – Keur Bou Natte – Photo WVC 2002.

2003-03 Espargos-Pretoria-06 copy
2003-03 Espargos-Pretoria-06 copy.jpg

Project of TC-Dialogue Foundation – Evaluation mission 2003-03 with Etienne Van Steenberghe and Marc PIlle : Cabo Verde (Isla do Sal – Escola Pretoria) – Splendid school garden – Former schoolyard transformed into a “garden of Eden”, producing fresh vegetables for the lunches at school, thanks to the application of the TerraCottem (TC) soil conditioner. See the happy children ?  

Photo WVC 2003-03 Espargos-Pretoria-06 copy.jpg


P1000569 copy 1
P1000569 copy 1.jpg

UNICEF Project with TC-Dialogue Foundation 2005-2007: Saharawis refugee camp of Smara (S.W. Algeria) – Sahara desert sand transformed into a magnificent family garden (25 m2, sufficient to feed the family). Soil conditioner TerraCottem applied in october 2006; first vegetables (red beetroot and carrots) harvested in november 2006. For the first time all the family members can eat fresh vegetables from their own garden. –

Photo WVC P1000569 2007 Smara TV4.JPG.


Hunger and famine belong to the most shocking and disastrous phenomena on this world. We all get really touched when seeing hungry children, mostly in the drylands, where poverty of the rural people is one of the basic reasons for this plague.

Therefore, it is striking that very positive results, obtained since the nineties with creation of community gardens for women (Burkina Faso, Senegal), school gardens (Cabo Verde, Burkina Faso) or small family gardens (Algeria), do not seem to convince international or national authorities to invest seriously in these easy to duplicate “best practices” to alleviate hunger and poverty.

If local farmers, mostly women, can produce more crops with half of the normal volume of irrigation water, simply by applying one single time a soil conditioner, why don’t we invest more in the multiplication of vegetable gardens for villagers and school children?

Have a look at my blog <www.desertification.wordpress.com>, see what we have done with UNICEF ALGERIA for the creation of family gardens in the refugee camps of the Sahraouis people in the Sahara desert, and you will be convinced that a nice solution for the hunger problem exists.

It suffices to apply it to break the downward spiral. I know that the rural population in the drylands lacks the money to buy enough food and being constantly malnourished, is becoming weaker and often sick. Fabulous amounts of money have been and are continuously spent on very diverse, ambitious, but sometimes non-sustainable programmes and projects. What if we would invest in the creation of kitchen gardens and school gardens, offering the rural people and their children a nice opportunity to produce their own food, even within a period of 2-3 months? Production of fresh food, full of vitamins and mineral elements, makes them increasingly more able to work, which then makes them even less hungry and a bit wealthier (possibility to bring vegetables to the local market).

I see no easier and better way to create an upward spiral. And remember, seeing is believing. That’s what the Saharawis have been telling us after registering the first successes with their new gardens and trees in the Algerian Sahara desert.  Why only here, in the most difficult circumstances ?  Why not in all the drylands ?

The day will come …



Best practices in Senegal

Photo credit: Ilonka DE ROOIJ

Introduction of new vegetables and fruit species, thanks to free seeds from the SEEDS FOR FOOD action


Growing food crops in container to alleviate drought

by Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)

Nobody will deny that growing food crops in container has a lot of advantages.  Saving a lot of water is one of the most important ones.

That’s what I was thinking of when I received these nice photos of my friends Ilonka DE ROOIJ and Rafael VAN BOGAERT, enthusiast managers of an interesting project in Casamance, Senegal.

Not only convinced of the positive effect of container gardening on limitation of water consumption, but also of the introduction of some drought-tolerant plant species, like the spineless prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica var. inermis), they are introducing in Casamance a number of new technologies, e.g. a desalinisation technology developed by Rafael himself, sack gardening, water saving, the “Seeds for Food” action, etc. …

Please have a look at their photos and get convinced of the importance of these “best practices”.  They deserve to be multiplied in all the drylands to alleviate drought and to combat desertification (saving water and producing food and fodder).

Casamance, Senegal 2016-02 – Potatoes growing in plastic bags, burried in the dry soil – Photo credit: Ilonka DE ROOIJ 1798243_1044496495589181_177397747462836296_n
Casamance, Senegal 2016-02 – Young plants of the spineless prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica var. inermis), each grown from one single pad – Photo credit Ilonka DE ROOIJ – 12710859_1044496492255848_6834224328241385187_o.jpg
Casamance, Senegal 2016-02 – The young Opuntias start flowering and will soon produce juicy fruits – Photo Ilonka DE ROOIJ 11083706_1044496555589175_1884473580418555260_o.jpg

Best practices in sustainability in food security work

Photo credit: FAO

Supporting development of efficient livestock production systems in Senegal

Two initiatives in Niger and Senegal win awards for best practices in sustainable development

Two FAO projects have earned awards in an EXPO 2015 competition aimed at spotlighting best practices in sustainability in international food security work.

The “Best Sustainable Development Practices” competition was organized by the Feeding Knowledge platform, an EXPO 2015 initiative that is promoting greater cooperation in research and innovation related to food security, with a focus on policies, technologies, know-how and services and products. EXPO’s theme this year is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.

First prize in the category “Quantitative and Qualitative Enhancement of Crop Products” was awarded today in a ceremony at Expo to the project Intensification of agriculture by strengthening cooperative agro-input shops” (IARBIC), a collaboration between FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture of Niger, a dozen Producers Federations of Niger and a host of other development partners.

The project seeks to raise agricultural production in Niger by improving access to quality fertilizers. The capacities of a huge network of producers, cooperatives and farmers’ organizations are enhanced by training them in how to organize joint fertilizer orders, to manage the agro-input shops, including book-keeping and business management, as well as in new agricultural techniques required to increase productivity, such as the rational and appropriate use of quality fertilizers.

Over the last five years, around 260 agro-inputs shops have been established and 100 warehouses for storing harvest produce have been built, serving the needs of over 100,000 smallholder farmers. In addition to fertilizers, the input shops also sell seeds and offer phytosanitary and other services, as well as targeting women with sales of smaller quantities of fertilizer.

The project has also supported innovative financing schemes, such as the inventory credit system known as ‘warrantage‘. Furthermore, a 653,000 Euro guarantee fund was established for eight farmer federations who were thereby able to access credit for agro-business activities and for the creation of the Union of Producer Federations of Niger (GATANCI), supported by IARBIC.

Second prize for work in small rural communities

Second prize in the category “Sustainable development of small rural communities in marginal areas” went to another FAO project, Eradication of the tsetse fly Glossina palpalis gambiensis from the Niayes in Senegal.

Innovations that should be applied at the largest scale

Photo credit: CCAFS-CGIAR

Photo-story: Fair promotes farmer innovations in West Africa

by Sékou Touré and Maïmouna Fané (CCAFS West Africa)

To help promote local innovations, Burkina Faso hosted the Innovation Fair Farmers in West Africa.

Group photo with Jury members, the winners and organizers. - https://ccafs.cgiar.org/sites/default/files/images/IMG_0113.JPG
Group photo with Jury members, the winners and organizers. – https://ccafs.cgiar.org/sites/default/files/images/IMG_0113.JPG

Burkina Faso hosted on 15 and 16 May the Innovation Fair Farmers in West Africa (FIPAO). This event aimed to draw attention to farmer innovation and the role of peasant producers in agricultural research, and to facilitate interaction, linkages and learning between all relevant actors. It also helped promote family farming through the development of innovative farmers.

In addition to presenting the innovations, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) sponsored a video contest to document farmer innovations in the face of climate change. Video-makers from Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal prepared videos that were screened at the fair. See the videos.

Read the full article: CCAFS-CGIAR

Rice yield in Senegal

 Photo credit: afd

Senegal is highly dependent on foreign resources: 80% of rice consumed is imported. Yet the Senegal River Valley has high hydro-agricultural potential (240 000 ha) and could cover the bulk (70%) of national needs.

Causes of yield stagnation in irrigated lowland rice systems in the Senegal River Valley: Application of dichotomous decision tree analysis

by Atsuko Tanaka, Mandiaye Diagne, Kazuki Saito

in Field Crops Research 176, 99-107 (2015).


In the Senegal River Valley (SRV), there was substantial yield gap between potential and actual yield obtained by farmers in irrigated rice production systems. Integrated crop management (ICM), covering almost all the agricultural practices from land preparation to harvest, was introduced to farmers for boosting yields since the early 2000s. A repeated farm survey was conducted over the period 2002–2010 to monitor farmers’ agricultural practices during the wet season in the Delta and Middle Valley of the SRV. The objectives of this study were to: (i) assess spatial and temporal variation in on-farm yields, and (ii) determine factors affecting variation in the yields through Classification and Regression Tree (CART) analysis. The data set consists of 829 farmer-year observations. While mean yields across nine years were 5.0 and 5.6 t/ha in the Delta and Middle Valley, respectively, mean attainable yields (upper 10 percentile) were 7.2 and 8.6 t/ha, respectively. Yield gap between attainable yield and mean yield was 2.2–3 t/ha. There were no temporal trends in yield or yield gap in either zone. CART analysis identified six and eight yield determining factors. The primary factor was sowing time, and delayed sowing resulted in yield reduction by around 1 t/ha in both zones. The major reasons behind delayed sowing were related to availability of credit, machinery, and irrigation water. The two other commonly identified factors were fertilizer management and bird control. We conclude that creating enabling environment through institutional arrangements for improving access to resources and machineries is essential for enhancing the adoption of ICM and breaking the yield stagnation. Development of alternative agricultural practices such as no tillage system is also needed to help farmers practice timely sowing.

See the text: Mendeley

See also: http://www.afd.fr/lang/en/home/pays/afrique/geo-afr/senegal/projets-sn/agriculture-irriguee-senegal

Floodwater used to grow herbs in Dakar (Senegal)

Photo credit: TRUST

Emilie Faye stands near a floodwater retention basin in Pikine, a suburb of the Senegalese capital Dakar. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

Dakar women grow herb business from floodwater

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Author: Kathryn M. Werntz

VIDEO: http://youtu.be/uoGxrDeyT_g

Though the coastal cities of Senegal are situated on the fierce Atlantic Ocean, it is floods from heavy rains they struggle with, rather than rising tides.

Inondation à Pikine -  http://www.noorinfo.com/photo/art/default/4613661-6906052.jpg?v=1344867640
Inondation à Pikine – http://www.noorinfo.com/photo/art/default/4613661-6906052.jpg?v=1344867640

A common solution is to pump floodwaters into the ocean. But one innovative project is trying to capture the water instead, for use in gardening during water-short periods of the year.

Pikine, les Parcelles assainies et Guédiawaye, les trois villes de la banlieue dakaroise, bénéficieront, très prochainement, d’un programme spécial de lutte contre la pauvreté. - http://www.seneweb.com/news/artimages/news/pikine.jpg
Pikine, les Parcelles assainies et Guédiawaye, les trois villes de la banlieue dakaroise, bénéficieront, très prochainement, d’un programme spécial de lutte contre la pauvreté. – http://www.seneweb.com/news/artimages/news/pikine.jpg

In Pikine, a suburb of Senegal’s capital Dakar, the “Live with Water” project captures floodwater in large sandy basins, around which cash crop gardens of mint and basil provide an income for local residents.

Using the basins, floods that once wiped out houses, strained the local economy and heightened the risk of disease have been converted into a new stock of fresh water for a West African community that is dusty and dry much of the year.

“Before, one had to accept that houses here flood. But this project opened our eyes to see there is a solution,” said Emilie Faye, a local leader who has been instrumental in the project.

Faye points to the seat of her couch, indicating the flood level in years past. The wall and ceiling of her home are discoloured and peeling due to secondary damage from humidity.


The redirected floodwaters serve a multitude of purposes. The surface drainage system leads water into an underground canal which empties into a natural filtration system. Water then flows through a series of basins, creating a reservoir and a green space in the middle of a crowded, dusty suburb.

The basins, a burgeoning ecosystem of their own, are now populated with medicinal plants, fish and herons.


Read the full article: TRUST

Spineless Opuntia in Senegal

Photo credit: Ilonka De Rooij


ilonka DE ROOIJ sent a nice photo of a series of cactus pads growing at their development project in Senegal.  Please register that this variety of the prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica var. inermis) has no sharp spines, which make it quite easy to handle.

Recently we posted on our Facebook-page of the “Opuntia Ambassadors” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/699997340039515/) a message of Anke Zürn, who shared an article of the FAO entitled “TRADITIONAL CROP OF THE MONTH”. This article was shared by somewhat 600 people and a lot of positive comments were posted.

Photo credit: Ilonka DE ROOIJ (Senegal).
Photo credit: Ilonka DE ROOIJ (Senegal).

The observation that Opuntia stricta got out of control in Australia, invading tens of thousands of hectares of rangeland, particularly in Queensland. It was eventually controlled by introducing the moth Cactoblastis cactorum to become a classic example for effective biological control” can’t be seen as valid for this spineless variety of Opuntia ficus-indica, as this variety is fully edible (pads and fruits for food and animal feed). Therefore, it will remain constantly and completely under control.

We wish our friends Ilonka and Rafaël a well-merited success.