15. Countermeasures for soil degradation in arid and semi-arid regions

1. Approach’s Outline and Features

This approach involves pilot activities in which forest officers and villagers learn techniques to address poverty issues in areas with significant deforestation and soil degradation, then work to control land degradation and promote effective land use.

The approach comprises the following two pillars:
[Development and improvement of applicable techniques]
The residents of each village must take the initiative to tackle soil degradation state-wide. Accordingly, the approach identified useful and applicable techniques for local villagers to control land degradation and promote effective land use, while taking the types of degradation into account.

[Development of a system to disseminate applicable techniques and countermeasures]
Among the administrative departments of the state, the education sector forms a comprehensive network connecting each village. The will of the villagers, as the key stakeholders for implementing the activities, has been relatively well communicated to the executive branch on a state level via the education sector network. In response to their requests, the state executive branch has provided material and financial support, as well as technical assistance from the state outposts of the Forestry and Agriculture Departments.
This approach leveraged these educational sector networks to provide technical and financial support for villagers’ activities, which underpinned the dissemination of techniques and methods.
This system of dissemination is called AVLOS (Actions Vertes Locales et Scolaires).
(See 2-2)

Soil degradation, Water erosion, Soil fertility, Education sector involvement

2. Description of the project from which this approach was derived

2-1. Introduction

Water erosion (photo :JICA)

Key problems in Senegal include expanding unproductive grassland, salinization and soil degradation of farmland, all of which end up impoverishing farmers. In response, the Senegalese government requested capacity-building on the part of forest officers and villagers to control land degradation and promote effective land use. JICA also launched a technical cooperation project named “Capacity-building Project for the control of land degradation and the promotion of land recovery in degraded-soil areas” in March 2011.

2-2. Details of measures taken

  • In the Fatick and Kaolack regions of the Republic of Senegal, where the project was implemented, 100 villages where soil degradation was progressing significantly and needed to be addressed were selected as priority areas and 20 were selected as pilot sites in which to implement pilot activities.
  • JICA experts and forestry officers reviewed literature and the achievements of projects that were previously implemented to identify techniques to control land degradation and promote effective land use that would be feasible to apply at a local level. Consultations with villagers in the pilot site were also conducted to obtain their consent for a combination of techniques adapted to the area. The identified techniques were then organized according to soil degradation types, namely water erosion, wind erosion, salt damage and soil fertility loss.
  • Accordingly, techniques appropriate to the situation in the pilot areas were identified and the pilot activities were determined as follows:
    • Water erosion control: measures to prevent soil runoff using civil engineering works with wooden frames, sandbags and stones and contour cultivation of multiple grains (millet and nieve).
    • Soil fertility improvement: producing compost by applying livestock manure and grain residues and excreta from residents’ toilets (ECOSAN (Ecological Sanitation) toilets).
    • Afforestation/agroforestry: windbreaks, restoring vegetation, introducing salt-tolerant species, rearing seedlings.
    • Livelihood improvement: planting eucalyptus trees as construction material and fruit trees (mango, cashew), cultivating vegetables.
  • JICA experts worked with forest officers to organize the results of the pilot activities and prepared a technical manual and catalog.
  • JICA experts and forestry officers worked with the education sector to develop an approach centering on “Action for Schools and Communities/Green (AVLOS)” to disseminate technical information and other support throughout the region. Within this dissemination structure, the roles of the parties involved were clarified.
    • Within each village, groups of villagers are the main actors in implementing activities to control land degradation. Villagers and teachers are linked by a local network centering on the school.
    • The Provincial executive branch and Provincial outposts, such as Forestry or Agriculture Departments will provide material financial support and technical advice and guidance, respectively.
    • The willingness of village groups to implement activities is communicated from village to regional and provincial level via an educational network. The will of the villagers that reaches the provincial level is conveyed to the provincial outposts and local governments, which then provide them with the necessary support.
Construction of stone barriers (photo: JICA)
Production of vegetables (photo: JICA)
Village nursery (photo: JICA)
Reforestation in a cereal field (photo : JICA)

(Perspectives on sustainability)

  • Implementing simple techniques that local villagers, as the implementing entities, can apply and increasing the opportunities for on-site technical guidance by forest officers through the AVLOS approach have promoted the dissemination of such techniques.
  • The sustainability of planting eucalyptus is underpinned by villagers’ awareness of the advantages of the plantation in protecting their villages against salinization and wind, which was raised after sensitizing the local population, as well as their realization that exploiting eucalyptus would be profitable.

3. Analysis of the approach

3-1. Impact

[Achievements in disseminating techniques to control land degradation]

  • Among 100 villages designated by the project as priority areas, a high percentage (81%) had adopted and utilized controlling land degradation techniques. This result shows that the extension approach, AVLOS, could effectively disseminate techniques adopted in the pilot sites elsewhere.
  • With six (6) years having elapsed since the project’s completion, the eucalyptus plantation continues; underpinned by villagers’ awareness of its benefits. The techniques of stone bands and framed bands also remain in use as means to protect the fields and villages against wind.

[Improving soil fertility by utilizing human waste]

  • By applying compost from human waste (via an ECOSAN latrine), lettuce and millet yields increased by 2.6 times and 1.3 to 1.6 times, respectively.
  • Obtaining understanding of the advantages of this technique which utilizes human waste proved a major challenge, given the cultural and religious background of the residents. However, through training sessions and sensitization, users came to understand the advantage and accept the techniques. This approach achieved remarkable results in terms of behavioral transformation.

3-2. Lessons learned

  • Establishing a dissemination system was key to this approach. JICA experts visited both forestry and education departments, where contacts had previously been limited and spent sufficient time in dialog to gain their understanding. Consequently, the relevant organizations reached consensus and the outputs of this approach were well received.
  • To create a solid working relationship with other sectors in implementing the approach, all parties involved in each field must recognize their respective roles and fulfil their respective responsibilities. For example, in the case of this project, forest and agricultural sectors were technical advisors, the local government was the financial supporter and the educational sector was the mediator.
  • The economic benefit was one of the key factors behind sustainability and the way techniques were disseminated with this approach. The villagers’ awareness of economic as well as environmental benefits has been contributing to the continued plantation of eucalyptus trees, whereas details of the ECOSAN latrine were not disseminated widely due to the cost of its installation, despite villagers realizing its environmental, agricultural and hygienic benefits.

4. Relevant information

NbS Approach Category3-2. 15
Title of the project from which the approach is derivedCapacity-building Project for the control of land degradation and the promotion of land recovery in degraded soil areas

Projet de renforcement des Capacités pour le contrôle de la dégradation des terres et la promotion de leur valorisation dans les zones de sols dégradés
CountryThe Republic of Senegal
La République du Sénégal
Implementing term2011/3‐ 2016/3
Implementing organizationsCommission of Forestry, Hunting and Soil conservation of the Ministry of Environment and Conservation of Nature  

Commission des Forêts, de la Chasse et de la Conservation des sols du Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Protection de la Nature.
Supporting organizationsJapan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Earth and Human Corporation
Report/Tool/GuidelineRapport Final : Projet de renforcement des capacities pour le controle de la degradation des terres et la promotion de leur valorisation dans les zones de sols degrades  

(The materials shown below are contained in the above report)  

-Techniques et mesures de lutte contre la degradation des terres et de promotion d’un Meilleur avenir dans le monde rural
-GUIDE D’UTILISATION DES OUTILS DE SENSIBILISATION <<SARAR/CODEVAL>> Contrôle participative de la Dégradation des terres dt de la promotion de leur Valorisation
Contributors to this articleYasuhisa Tanaka /Japan Forest Technology Association (JAFTA)