CONTENTIntroduction 4Notes for the reader 6Land degradation 71 Brazil 82 Turkey 103 Niger 124 Drynet 145 Bolivia 166 Iran 187 India 208 South Africa 229 Uzbekistan 2410 Iran 2611 Chile 2812 Pakistan 3013 Senegal 3214 Mauritania 3415 Madagascar 3616 Chile 3817 Turkey 4018 Mauritania 42Story 44Epilogue 45 - 47
IntroductionThe Importanceof Local Initiatives:Drynet’s VisionPeoples’ perceptions about drylands are often dominated Lastly, if development efforts are to be sustainable, it isby stories of doom and gloom. Although some areas do essential that dryland communities are centrally involvedface serious problems there is also reason for optimism as in their design and implementation. Policy processes forgrassroots initiatives in many regions have positively trans- fostering sustainable development in drylands need to beformed the environment and living conditions with people based on dialogue with all relevant stakeholders and shouldfinding ways to earn their living that do not cause degrada- adopt a genuine participatory approach. This is the only waytion. Drynet partners around the world have been involved for developing policies that will work for and be supportedin, and are documenting all sorts of inspiring initiatives from by local communities, the people responsible for sustain-around the world, this publication highlights just a small ing them in the long term. This is the only way to integrateselection of them. These examples show that positive local socio-economic conditions and preferences alongsidechange is possible and they will hopefully inspire the many ecological or technical aspects of policies or programmespeople working in or for drylands. Yet they are also an im- and the only way of finding solutions that will be supportedportant advocacy tool, as they show the policies and actions by the people whose lives are affected by them. This visionthat need to be adapted to reverse dryland degradation. is illustrated well by the case on participatory afforestation in Birjand, Iran.Local grassroots initiatives often fall under the radar of poli-cy makers and it is one of Drynet’s objectives to make these All the initiatives in this report reflect these three ele-initiatives more visible. Such initiatives vary enormously in ments of Drynet’s vision. This publication is intended totheir content, approach, scale and focus. Equally, they are inspire readers with the wealth of diverse initiatives that areinitiated and supported by a wide variety of organisations happening all over the world. It is also meant to expose aand groups. Despite this variety, all the cases in this report wider audience to the work that Drynet and its partners arereflect the vision of Drynet and its partners. What are the key doing, to share Drynet’s drive and vision, its commitmentelements of this vision? to drylands and their communities and the benefits of col- laborative work. These ‘stories from the field’ are backed upFirstly, we believe that it is worth investing in drylands by testimonies from a number of individuals from organi-because they have intrinsic value. Drylands harbour unique sations which have collaborated with Drynet partners inbiodiversity, which provides unique products and valuable recent years.ecosystem services. They provide a valuable gene pool ofmany species and varieties that are well-adapted to dryconditions. Many of the initiatives in this report reflect thisreality. The story of Turkish Saffron is a good example.Secondly, we are convinced that grassroots initiativesprovide innovative alternatives to present-day mainstreamdevelopment efforts in drylands. Such initiatives are eithertaken by a local community itself or by organisations whichsupport the local community in shaping, implementing and‘owning’ the initiative. The case of the fog nets in Chile is agood example of this.
The world’s dryland systems (from: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Desertification Synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC.)Drylands: facts and figures Land degradation and desertification reduce the biologi-Some 40% of the earth’s land surface is covered by semi-arid cal and productive potential of the land. The causes can beand arid ecosystems, otherwise known as drylands. More natural, man-made or a combination of the two. Dryland eco-than two thirds of Africa and virtually all of the Middle East systems have a specific and well-evolved balance betweenare classified as drylands. The majority of people who live in plants, animals, soils, water and people, but it is a fragile bal-these regions are highly dependent on rearing livestock and ance that is more easily disturbed than in other ecosystems.on cultivation, activities which rely on the quality of (and Once disturbed, the balance is hard to restore, which is why itcontinued access to) natural resources, especially land and is so important to try to prevent degradation and desertifica-water. In most dryland countries these activities account tion before they occur.for 30–50% of Gross Domestic Product and an even higherproportion of people’s livelihoods. At the present time some Drylands are susceptible to droughts and to climatic varia-70% of the world’s drylands are affected by degradation. tions, which in recent years have become more frequent and extreme with climate change. Increasingly dryland com-The first Millennium Development Goal focuses on reducing munities are having to find ways to adapt to these climaticpoverty and enhancing food security by 2015. Today, 70% changes. More localised causes of degradation, such as theof people suffering from serious and permanent under- overexploitation of resources, frequently occur but these cannourishment (an estimated 1 billion people) live in semi- often be addressed, sometimes quite easily. Sometimes theyarid and arid zones, especially in Africa. This highlights the are driven by short-term financial gain (for example large-importance of investing in the ability of the people living in scale mono-cropping, or mining). At other times more com-these areas to restore the productive capacity of the dryland plex socio-economic circumstances drive people to overuseecosystems on which they depend. the land and its resources. For example, nomadic cattleThe world’s dryland systems (from: Millennium Ecosystem herders are often forced to graze their cattle on ever smallerAssessment, 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: patches of land, when others lay claim to the land that theyDesertification Synthesis. World Resources Institute, Wash- once used. This leads to overgrazing and land degradation.ington, DC.) Issues of tenure, user rights and protective laws all strongly influence the opportunities that people have to use the land and its resources sustainably.
Notes for the readerDrylands harbour a unique, well-adapted biodiversity and This publication describes just a feware very rich in endemic species. Equally, the people wholive in these environments have also adapted to them in of the many initiatives that Drynet andinventive and creative ways. Many drylands are marginal- its partners are involved in, or haveised, rural, areas which attract little attention from central documented and catalogued.decision-makers and donors. As such, it is often down The case studies focus on the uniqueto the communities themselves to draw on their ownresources and ingenuity to find their own solutions to or innovative aspects of each example.land degradation and drought. Many of these solutions Fuller descriptions of these studies andare innovative and inspiring and deserve more attention. other inspiring initiatives can be found atMost investments in drylands come from within drylandcommunities. www.dry-net.org. From the site you canFarmers have the most interest in investing in their own link back to the Drynet partner whofields, provided that they have tenure rights (see, for ex- knows most about each case and findample, the case from Niger). Communities often draw up further information and contacts. Thetheir own management and delivery systems with rela-tively low costs, contributing labour, materials and skills website also gives details on all the(see for example the case from Brazil). Such solutions are activities in which Drynet’s partners areusually well-adapted to the local context and possibili- involved in and their achievements. Itties, answer local needs and show innovativeness in theiruse of local materials or in adapting technologies. With provides access to Drynet newsletters inlimited means these communities tackle the problems 14 languages, dryland-related news fromthreatening their survival in ways that no policy-maker all over the world, and Drynet’s positioncould design behind a desk. on a number of topics such as adaptationLooking Forward to climate change or biofuel productionDrynet started in 2007 and currently receives financial in drylands.support from the European Union, the Global Mechanism,IUCN NL and PSO, a Dutch capacity-building organisation.Drynet’s partners have embarked on building dialogue, Land degradation takes different forms,networks and cooperative structures within their coun- and has different causes, in differenttries. Drynet has established civil society platforms in areas, countries and regions.some of the countries most affected by desertification The WOCAT publication “Where the Landand land degradation. These have now established theirown momentum and are expected to continue to thrive is Greener” (2007, editors: Hanspeterbeyond the term of the current project. Faced with ac- Liniger and William Critchley) provides acelerating climatic change, governments are increasingly useful definition of land degradation, andrecognising the need to take action, to respond to majorcrises or prevent them from happening. They can only do the different forms it takes, as shown inso effectively with the help and support of the people for the box at the right.whom they are working. The strong platforms consistingof civil society organisations (CSOs) that Drynet has buildwill provide a crucial tool to promote collaboration be-tween civil society and policy makers, scientists and theprivate sector. They will provide a unique access point tolocal sources of knowledge on drylands and the uniqueresources that they harbour. They lay the foundation fornational cooperation, which is the basis for any meaning-ful representation in policy processes at the internationallevel.
Land degradationDegraded land is defined as land that, due to natural processes or human activity,is no longer able to sustain properly an economic function and/or the originalecological function. There are a number of inter-related land degradationcomponents, all of which may contribute to a decline in agricultural production andother ecosystem services. The most important are:Soil degradation - decline in the productive capacity Climate deterioration - changes in the micro- andof the soil as a result of soil erosion and changes in the macro-climatic conditions that increase the risk of crophydrological, biological, chemical and physical functions failure.of the soil. The major types include water erosion (such asinter-rill erosion, gully erosion, mass movement, off-sitesedimentation), wind erosion, chemical deterioration (such Losses to urban/industrial development -as fertility decline, reduced organic matter, acidification, decline in the total area of land used, or with potential forsalinisation, soil pollution) and physical deterioration (such agricultural production as a result of arable land beingas soil compaction, surface sealing and crusting, water converted to urban, industrial and infrastructure uses.logging). It needs to be stressed that there are many interactions and interdependencies between these components, and measures to combat land degradation and promoteVegetation degradation - decline in the quantity and/ sustainable land management will commonly address moreor quality (species composition, diversity, etc) of the natural than one at a time.biomass and decrease in the vegetative ground cover.Water degradation - decline in the quantity and/or Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the Unitedquality of both surface and groundwater resources (such as Nations, WOCAT, Where the Land is Greener (2007, editors: Liniger Critchley)aridification and soil moisture problem).
Basic Case Info 1 Inspiring Initiative: Harvesting Drinking Water in North East Brazil Land: Brazil Land degradation: Water degradation Initiative by: Articulação do Semi-Árido Brasileiro Initiative supported by: Instituto SertãoBuilding One Million WaterCisternsphoto: Eduardo Queiroga.
A Simple and Effective Technology The system was originally designed by a local mason in the 1960s. Underground cisterns, which are constructed in situ by local artisans, are built to store the water that falls on rooftops during the rainy season. The cisterns consist of curved cement plates, made using simple wooden frames and then sunk about 2/3rds of their height into the ground. After the walls have set a cement plaster floor is laid, the protruding walls are protected with rammed earth and plaster and the tank is crowned with a cement roof. On average the tanks store 16,000 litres - enough to ensure cooking and drinking water for a family of five for up to eight months. drawing: Carlos Machado.Setting the InitiativeSome 11% of Brazil (almost 900,000 sq. km) - mostly in theNorth East of the country - is semi arid. These areas, with arainfall of between 600-1200mm p.a., are home to some 12million rural dwellers who have no means of storing this rainfallto meet their domestic water needs. During the dry season - orwhen the rains fail - these families must rely on either trucked-in water or on stagnant, poor quality water dredged from the Making the Differencebottom of dams. Diarrhoea, caused by drinking contaminated The simplicity of the design, and the participatory approach, inwater is responsible for one in four child mortalities in the which local craftsmen are trained in building the cisterns andregion.Ten years ago at the 3rd Conference of the Parties of the families trained in their maintenance, are key elements in theConvention to Combat Desertification (held in Recife, Brazil) a success of the project. To date around 5,000 local builders havegroup of civil society organisations came together to form the been trained in cistern-construction, thereby adding to theArticulação do Semi-Árido Brasileiro ASA (the Coalition of the local skills base and earning capacity. But perhaps the majorSemi-Arid Regions of Brazil) and adopted the goal of guaran- key to the success of the project has been the involvement of ateeing access to safe water for rural households. Based on the wide range of stakeholders. The ASA is an umbrella organisationexperience of some member organizations ASA began a pilot involving some 800 CSOs (ranging from faith-based groups toproject of building cement water cisterns. trade unions and rural workers associations) and as such has a large outreach. In addition the ASA has built strong links withBetween 2001 and 2003 the programme grew from a pilot national government, which has made a ten year commitmentscheme to one that is now mainstreamed. At the last count (July to funding the scheme; with local authorities, which manage2009) nearly a quarter of a million water cisterns had been con- the training aspects and select beneficiaries; and with thestructed in north-eastern Brazil, at an average cost of $900 per private sector, with the Brazilian Federation of Banks providingunit. These cisterns have improved the health of more than a financial and administrative assistance. Such extensive co-million people and reduced the labour burden of women - who operation has created the necessary political conditions,previously had to trek long distances in search of water. In ad- particularly transparency and efficiency, to enable its continueddition they have reduced the dependence of these families on implementation- a factor that is equally as important as thelocal landowners and politicians, who use access to water as a simplicity of the technology and the continued flow of funds formeans of securing patronage, and the cost of trucking in water. raw materials, training and administration.
Basic Case Info 2Inspiring Initiative: The Çütlük Saffron ProjectLand: TurkeyLand degradation: Soil and Water degradationby mono-croppingInitiative by: TEMA, Harran UniversityUsing a Flower to CombatDesertificationCredits: Elias Pirasteh 10
“Saffron only requires 10% of the water that cotton needs and offers a potential for local value-adding” Making the Difference The project initiators thought that the Harran Plateau was a potentially interesting place to experiment with saffron production, as it has the right combination of climate and soil conditions and a pool of natural cultivars, which they hoped to tap into. They carried out soil tests before discussing the idea with villagers and offering them a package of training on saf-Setting the Initiative fron production, access to bulbs, and the facilities to store andÇütlük lies in a semi-arid upland region on the southern edge protect them.of Turkey, close to the Syrian and Iraqi borders. Local agricultureis dominated by cotton mono-cropping, which accounts for Farmers who took up saffron cultivation found that they70% of agricultural production, but requires frequent irrigation doubled or tripled their incomes. The project has also led to(seven to eight times a year). This leads to increased salinity and women taking a larger role in cultivation and harvesting (boththe loss of nutrients in an already water-scarce area. types of work are quite intricate and demand much patience and dexterity, attributes locally ascribed to women). As a resultAgainst this background, TEMA (The Turkish Foundation for the social status of women has improved. Far less irrigation wa-Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Construction ter is now used in the village and the soils are showing signs ofof Natural Habitats) joined forces with experts at Harran Univer- recovery. This has led villagers to develop a better relationshipsity to explore the viability of re-introducing commercial saffron with the landowners from whom they rent their land.cultivation into the area. Saffron is one of the most expensivespices in the world. It takes 500 kilograms of bulbs to produce Other communities in the region have become aware of thejust 200 grams of flower stamens. The plant grows in the wild in benefits of saffron production and a number of similar projectsthe area, which is thought to be a valuable pool of saffron gene have been established, some externally funded (for example byresources. Saffron only requires 10% of the water that cotton the EU) and others internally (by farmers’ associations or theneeds and offers a potential for local value-adding. local municipality). This, in turn, is creating new markets for selling bulbs as well as the opportunity to develop a moreThe project had both local and more strategic objectives. At the effective marketing structure for the spice.local level it aimed to make local agriculture more sustainableby encouraging saffron cultivation, and to use this as a basis Though small in scope, this project has received national andfor building small enterprises and improving social, economic, international acclaim and has raised the profile of saffronemployment and educational opportunities in the village. On production both within Turkey and further afield. It has beena more strategic level it aimed to improve the conservation of awarded prizes by several international associations, includ-saffron cultivars by drawing on the local gene pool, to encour- ing the United Nations and the International Public Relationsage the Ministry of Agriculture to consider supporting saffron Association. The project shows how replacing an imported cropproducers, to stimulate more research into saffron agriculture, (cotton) with a locally adapted variety can have very positiveand to attract potential buyers and contribute to Turkey becom- economic and ecological benefits, and highlights the value ofing a net exporter. local sources of dryland biodiversity. 11
Basic Case Info 3Inspiring Initiative: Building on a Green Revolutionin the SahelLand: NigerLand degradation: Vegetation degradationInitiative by: CIS/VU UniversityThe Largest ReforestationEffort in Africa GoesUnnoticedGalma, Niger, 1975 Galma, Niger, 2003 12
“Estimates suggest that some 5 million hectares have more vegetative cover than before as a result of an estimated 4 million farmers protecting trees. This makes it the largest reforestation initiative ever to have occurred in Africa.”Setting the Initiative improving the incomes of participating farmers. Moreover itA recent study by the Centre for International Cooperation of reduces vulnerability to drought. Following the drought ofthe Free University of Amsterdam shows that vast areas of land 2005, farmers with more trees on their land had better harvestsin Niger and parts of Burkina Faso now have more vegetative and were able to support themselves through the hungrycover than 20 years ago. The researchers discovered that this is season by selling firewood to buy food. Research in one villagedue to farmers in densely populated regions of these countries in the Maradi region shows that villagers protect 37 differentprotecting and managing trees that naturally seed themselves tree species, suggesting that complex ecosystems areon their farms. The research showed that this practice has been re-emerging.taken up in neighbouring parts.The scale of this re-greening is quite remarkable. Estimates Making the Differencesuggest that some 5 million hectares have more vegetative Three factors seem to have led farmers to recognise the ben-cover than before as a result of an estimated 4 million farmers efits of protecting trees. Firstly, the drought years of the 1970sprotecting trees. At an average density of 40 trees per and 1980s convinced farmers of the need for protection againsthectare the study estimates that some 20 million trees have dust and sand storms, land degradation and decreasing cropbeen nurtured and protected from grazing cattle. This makes yields. Secondly, there has been a shift in perceptions about theit the largest reforestation initiative ever to have occurred in ownership of trees - while they remain the property of the stateAfrica - and one carried out largely through farmers’ own initia- farmers now have de facto usufruct rights over them and aretives; in fact, the government and international agencies were prepared to invest in protecting them. Finally, farmers recog-hardly aware that it was happening. nised the need to intensify production systems in reaction to strong demographic growth. A series of informal farmer-While conventional wisdom holds that population pressure to-farmer exchanges slowly led to a spread in the practice thathas a negative effect on the natural resource base of drylands, provides farmers with a capital asset for use in times of hard-this initiative suggests otherwise. It seems that farmers are ship, and a regular stream of benefits.adjusting their farming practices to accommodate an increas-ing population. For example, they manage their livestock more Clearly many lessons can be learnt from this movement, notintensively by controlling their grazing, so they do not damage least because of its sheer size and the spontaneous manneryoung saplings. When mature the trees can provide additional in which it has been taken up. It shows potential for address-fodder for the livestock, which in turn produce more manure ing the food crisis, continued degradation of dryland areaswhich can be used to increase the fertility of the fields. The trees and climate change (trees sequester carbon). Farmers can bealso help protect crops particularly in their early growth stages, supported in taking up these initiatives by changes in userfrom desert winds, fix nitrogen, stabilise the soil, raise the water rights, by including farmer-led regeneration approaches withintable and provide a source of wood. Their proximity to people’s existing and new projects, by promoting farmer exchange visitshomes means that women spend much less time gathering and publicising this success story through the mass media andwood. extension services.Studies show that protecting trees increases the efficiency ofboth the cropping and husbandry systems, considerably 13
Basic Case Info 4Inspiring Initiative: Drynet: Building Platformsand Fostering DialoguesLand: The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Bolivia,Chile, Brazil, Senegal, Mauritania, South Africa, Iran,Pakistan, India, KazachstanInitiative by: Both ENDS, OLCA, PROBIOMA, IS, ENDA, TENMIYA,EMG, CAREC, CENESTA LPPS, LPP, CARI, SCOPE, TEMADrynet: a Global Initiative,Giving Future to Drylands 14
Making the Difference Drynet brings together organisations working on issues such as soil remediation, rights for pastoral peoples and climate adapta- tion. The organisations come from different cultural and geo-Setting the Initiative graphic backgrounds: from Chile and Uzbekistan to MauritaniaInitiatives to develop and rehabilitate drylands face many and Iran. Yet they defy these cultural and language barriers inchallenges. In part, this is because these objectives have been an effort to develop a stronger civil society, to raise public andpoorly integrated into overall development strategies and aid political attention for drylands and to ensure more participa-agreements. In addition, there are poor links between the policy tory approaches to policy making and project implementation.community and the communities working at a grassroots level.Policy makers are often unaware of what is happening at the Drynet’s members share a common vision and have developedgrassroots level and fail to recognise and ensure the mastery, a way of working that allows them to build platforms withinmanagement and, even ownership of local natural resources by their own countries and also link with partners around thelocal communities. The process of including these communi- world. Together they have designed a methodology for build-ties in the decision making structure is very weak, even though ing the capacity of CSOs involved in drylands. This follows amost of these processes will be made in their name and for four-step process 1) identification of all relevant stakehold-their benefits. Equally community organisations, particularly ers and interests, 2) analysis of current policy, developmentCSOs, have limited access to knowledge and information on and aid processes, 3) bringing stakeholders together to sharebest practices and relevant scientific research on drylands. knowledge and identify priorities for improving participation in relevant policy processes, 4) identification of gaps in knowledgeYet grassroots CSOs can provide a crucial link between local and skills of CSOs are then addressed by training and otherland users and national and international decision makers. They forms of capacity building. Positive examples are highlighted toare the eyes and the ears of the local population, implementing provide inspiration and there is attention for the possibilities foractivities at a grassroots level, conserving, documenting and up scaling. This methodology has been consistently followed.spreading traditional knowledge and monitoring change. They It has led to improved contact among stakeholders, awarenessare well placed to voice the concerns and needs of local com- of stakeholders on the various local issues, and to dialoguemunities to policy makers, although they often lack the organi- between stakeholders. It also led to changes in the authorities’sational capacity to take up the role of translating local needs, attitudes towards participatory approaches.realities and solutions into viable policy recommendations. Thisgap was recognised by a group of 14 CSOs who came together The three European members play a role in monitoring inter-to form Drynet, a network which aims to strengthen civil soci- national policies and programmes likely to effect developmentety at national levels and to provide them with access to the efforts in dryland environments and provide a conduit betweeninformation and skills needed to enhance their knowledge and grassroots organisations and the international policy commu-visibility so they can positively influence policies. A second aim nity. At the international level, Drynet has been able to expressof Drynet has been to build international links between CSOs common positions and influence decision-making, and this inso that they can learn from each others’ experiences and share turn has given southern partners more visibility and leverageknowledge. within their own countries. 15
Basic Case Info 5Inspiring Initiative: Responsible Soy BeanManagementLand: Bolivia Land degradation: Soil degradation by chemicalcontamination and monocroppingInitiative by: PROBIOMA and farmers associationsA Greener Approach toCultivating the ‘Golden Grain’ 16
Farmers’ Testimonies “Our objective is to produce at the lowest costs and to use less toxins” Juan Patzi (sugar cain farmer) “We want to raise consciousness about taking care of our health and that of our people” (soy farmer)Setting the Initiative Making the DifferenceIn the past 15 years soy has become Bolivia’s major export crop. At the farm level these changes involve establishing standardsAlmost one million hectares of land, mostly in the Department for ecological cultivation on small plots which incorporateof Santa Cruz, is now dedicated to soy production, which has windbreaks, encourage crop rotation and diversification,grown exponentially in recent years. Some 70% of this land was discourage the use of artificial agrochemicals and avoid the usepreviously virgin forest. According to the National Soil Usage of genetically modified varieties. This has been backed up byPlan (based on FAO criteria and adopted by law in 1996) 30% developing a training programme on organic and low exter-of this land was unsuitable for conversion to agriculture. In nal input soy production, establishing demonstration plots,2005 alone more than 100,000 hectares of land was deforested distributing biological control agents and providing technicalfor soy cultivation. But while more land is being brought into assistance for participating farmers.production, large tracts of land - some 300,000 hectares - havebeen abandoned in an advanced state of desertification, as soy At the policy level the programme works to establish policycultivation has rapidly depleted the fertility and structure of standards which respect designated natural areas, indigenousthese fragile forest soils Worryingly, this destructive production territories and the recommendations of the National Soil Usagemodel continues to advance on virgin lands, threatening to Plan. At the organisational level it involves building the capacityleave even larger tracts of desertified land in its wake. of agricultural cooperatives and syndicates, so they can exert more influence on decision making, and building a multi-stake-The majority of farmers in this region are smallholders with less holder alliance to increase transparency and improve govern-than 50 hectares and their livelihoods are as fragile as the soils ance. Other aspects of the programme include establishing athey work. Soy, and particularly genetically modified varieties, is broadcasting and advocacy campaign to raise awareness abouta capital-intensive crop, requiring farmers to buy seed and agro- agricultural issues and developing a certification and marketingchemicals. -Yet most farmers have limited financial reserves and system that rewards responsible soy production.can only finance each year’s planting by using their machinery,land or homes as collateral. If the crop fails the farmers face los- Within three and half years the programme has attracteding their assets and their livelihoods and being bought out by almost 1,500 individual farmers and ten farmers’ associationsbigger players. and has led to almost 60,000 hectares of land being farmed in a more ecological manner. Many farmers now realise the benefitsIn response to this situation PROBIOMA established a multi- of responsible soy production and farmers’ experiences demon-stakeholder forum to identify ways to control the environ- strate that one of the biological micro-organisms used to treatmental impacts of soybean production and to strengthen the seeds also shows signs of improving the soils degraded by theposition of small-scale farmers. This forum led to the launch of use of agrochemicals.the Programme for the Responsible Management of Soybeansin 2005. The programme involves changing farming practices The programme shows that it is possible to engage with a formand the social and economic environment in which farming is of agriculture that causes widespread environmental and socialcarried out. This two-pronged approach is helping small-scale damage and to ‘reform it from within’. Aspects of this model, infarmers step off the treadmill of mono-cropping, to reduce their particular the development of social and environmental criteria,dependency on external inputs and reverse environmental are now being adapted by Quinoa farmers’ associations in thedegradation. Bolivian highlands. 17
Basic Case Info 6Inspiring Initiative: Participatory Afforestation,Ecological Restoration and Carbon Sequestration in BirjandLand: IranLand degradation: Vegetation degradation byovergrazing and fuel wood gatheringInitiative by: Iranian Ministry of Agriculture, UNDP, GlobalEnvironment Facility / Initiative supported by: CENESTAVillages and the IranianGovernment Aligning theirInterests 18
“Over five years (2004-2008) the groups have rehabilitated some 12,000 hectares of degraded rangelands” Making the Difference This programme, which was set up in 2004, is unusual in that it was initiated by a national government working closely with the local community. Village Development Groups (VDGs) have been set up in almost every village and almost 50% of the members are women, an unusual feature in a male-domi- nated culture. The VDGs have been involved in all aspects of the programme, from site and species selection, to planting and protecting the areas and then gathering seeds from these areas for planting in the following year. Over five years (2004-2008) the groups have rehabilitated someSetting the Initiative 12,000 hectares of degraded rangelands, leading to a significantThe Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the countries most af- increase in vegetative cover which has increased the availabilityfected by desertification and, consequently, has made the of fodder and reduced the need to take the animals elsewhererehabilitation of degraded lands a top priority. The government to graze. The programme is recognized as the most successfulhas established an innovative community afforestation project intervention that the UNDP has supported in Iran so far.in Birjand, a heavily degraded and sparsely populated area nearthe Afghan border. The project area covers some 148,000 As well as improving the resilience of the local ecology, thehectares, most of it hilly and rocky land. It supports a small project also seeks to reduce pressure on local resources, par-population of 164 families spread across almost 30 villages. ticularly the demand for fuel wood. Most villages have received a gas oven suitable for baking Nan bread (a staple in the localAnimal herding is the main occupation, although the land is diet). In one of the larger villages a solar-powered bathhouseso degraded that local herders are often forced to graze their has been established.flocks in other areas for long periods of time. Land degradationis due to overgrazing and excessive fuel wood gathering which, Other spin-offs from the scheme, and particularly the mobilisa-for a while, was exacerbated by the temporary presence of refu- tion of the VDGs, have included the establishment of micro-gees from neighbouring Afghanistan. As a result the area has credit and village savings schemes, which are mostly used tobeen left with hardly any woody biomass; the only remaining establish and develop micro-enterprises including artisanal ac-wood was a shrub that the livestock find unpalatable. The short- tivities such as carpet weaving. Local artisans have also receivedage of vegetation increases the damage caused by the strong their first opportunity for national exposure and for accessingsand-laden winds, which are prevalent in the region, causing wider markets by exhibiting in a national crafts fair in Tehran.erosion and damaging crops. The Iranian government plans to scale up this approach in otherThe project seeks to restore these rangelands through partici- parts of the country facing problems of desertification andpatory planting and seeding, combating desertification, improv- vegetation loss and has declared an interest in approachinging the welfare of local communities and also contributing neighbouring countries to explore adopting these methods. Itto carbon sequestration - thereby aligning local, national and is hoped that at least some of the money needed to finance thisglobal political objectives. expansion will be provided by the Global Climate Fund. 19
Basic Case Info 7Inspiring Initiative: Promoting Camel Productsas a Specialty and Health FoodLand: IndiaInitiative by: LPPSFrom Heirloom to UniqueSelling Point 20
Convincing the Chief Minister The Chief Minister of Rajasthan, India, committed her government to saving the camel and its potential for supporting livelihoods in the Thar Desert, after reading about the situation in the local Drynet Newsletter.Setting the InitiativeThe camel is part and parcel of Rajasthan’s culture and tradi-tion. They were once the lifeline of the rural population, provid-ing transportation, doing heavy agricultural work and providinga bulwark against droughts. Traditional camel husbandry is an Making the Differenceingenious way of converting the scattered and seasonally LPPS is adapting a two-pronged approach toward valorisingvarying vegetation of the Thar Desert into protein and energy. camel products, raising public awareness about camel productsCamels roam freely throughout most of the year, foraging where and working with camel breeders to help them tap into thesethey can and are only supervised during the breeding season new niche markets. Only a few years ago, mostand when crops are growing during the monsoon months. Indians would have been disgusted by the idea of drinkingBut with the growth of irrigated agriculture and the increased camel milk. LPPS has successfully worked with the media toavailability of motorised transport, rural dwellers have come make its medicinal value known. It organised an internationalto see camels as outmoded, and even a threat to farmers. As a workshop in Jaipur, the state capital, in which camel experts andconsequence the camel population of Rajasthan has dwindled medical researchers participated, and which was well coveredby almost 50% in the past decade, to about 400,000. in the national media. It has also promoted camel milk and ice cream (“a low calorie desert dessert”) in the regional media,A local NGO, Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (LPPS) is involved in receiving much attention for these products.finding new ways for villagers to benefit from keeping camels.Camel milk is one product that has a potential to transform the At the same time LPPS is working with camel breeders toway local people view camels. Their milk is increasingly recog- make them aware of new opportunities. It began by organis-nised as having many medicinal effects, including anti-bacterial ing community outreach meetings which led to the forma-and anti-viral properties that help people fight diseases; it also tion of six clusters of self-help groups of camel breeders. LPPScontains an insulin-like substance that reduces blood sugar lev- is now training camel breeders in hygienic milk productionels in diabetes patients. In nutritional terms, it has three times as and is working on building a supply chain and a recognizablemuch Vitamin C as cow milk, is low in calories and is suitable for branding for camel milk. It has also built up a client base of 35people who are lactose intolerant. There is growing demand for diabetes patients in the nearby city of Jaisalmer who receivecamel milk (and female camels) in the Gulf States, and the Food regular deliveries of camel milk, which helps them to reduceand Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations estimates their dependency on medicines. Most recently they have beenthat the global market potential for camel milk could be worth working with a renowned artisanal paper maker in using camelbillions of dollars. But this is not the only camel product with dung to make paper which is then fashioned into diaries andpotential. Camels also provide a range of other products (hair, cards. These products were launched at the Pushkar camel fairskin and bones for traditional crafts), and camel safaris offer in November 2008 to much acclaim. These initial achievementsopportunities for pastoralists to participate in India’s booming now need backing up by appropriate government policies andtourist economy. targeted research efforts. 21
Basic Case Info 8Inspiring Initiative: Partnership for SustainableAgricultureLand: South AfricaLand degradation: Soil degradation by poor landusepractices and overcrowdingInitiative by: University of Kwazulu-Natal, FarmerSupport Group / Initiative supported by: EMGWorking the Fields forHealthy Soils 22
Participatory Learning The approach was highly participatory, unlike the rather top-down and prescriptive approach that has previously dominated extension work in the region. Most sessions took place in the farmers’ own fields, with an emphasis on practical learning - (e.g. building compost heaps, run-on ditches, trench beds, or on the use of mulches and cover crops). Several visits were also organised to see and evaluate innovations (e.g. approaches to vegetable gardening and water harvesting techniques) implemented by farmers elsewhere. Participatory monitoring and evaluation by the farmers themselves was also a key aspect of the learning process. Photography was used as a central element in building and sharing knowledge.Setting the InitiativePotshini lies at the foothills of the Drakenburg Mountains, closeto the border with Lesotho. Subsistence agriculture is widelypractised - although most people rely more on external sourcesof income, such as social grants or remittances for their liveli-hoods. Crops are grown in the summer - when the cattle rangeon communal lands - and in winter the cattle graze the cropresidues in the fields. Decades of overcrowding (the legacyof apartheid) and poor land-use practices are taking their tollon the landscape, which is suffering from erosion, soil loss andnutrient depletion. Making the Difference The project was well accepted in the community, primarilyThe Smallholder Systems Innovations Project was established because it was designed and carried out in a participativeby two departments at the University of KwaZulu-Natal: the fashion and was shaped by the farmers’ needs and priorities.Farmer Support Group (FSG, the community development and Interactions between stakeholders were not institutionalizedoutreach division of the Centre for the Environment, Agriculture but remained informal and led to improved knowledge aboutand Development) and the School of Bioresources Engineer- soil and water management and other aspects of agricultureing and Environmental Hydrology. The FSG had worked in the and rural livelihoods. Participants said that the programmearea before and had good links with the local community. They improved their knowledge about water conservation, makingbuilt on two existing farmers’ groups to establish two Farmer gardens, seeds, soil fertility, pest control and organic farming.Learner Groups, each with about thirty participating members.These groups shared and experimented with new technolo- The project contributed significantly to a decrease in watergies in farming, using Farmer Life Schools, an innovative way of run-off and soil erosion and an increase in tree planting. Betterworking with groups, that uses participatory action research, management also saw participants increase their maize yieldsand cross visits. The main aim of these schools was to involve (by an average of 168%), household food security and incomesfarmers in seeking and adopting appropriate soil and water (through marketing vegetables). People were clearly bettermanagement innovations, drawing on their own experience able to meet household expenses - with many able to improveand knowledge. Discussions between farmers and facilitators or repair their homes or other buildings in their compoundled to the development of a curriculum covering subjects such or being able to send their children to school. The processas soil and water management, seedling production, tree plant- also strengthened communications between members of theing, food processing, nutrition, marketing and the challenges of groups and with neighbours and family members who had notHIV/AIDS. been able to participate. 23
Basic Case Info 9Inspiring Initiative: Media Tour Uzbekistan -Raising Environmental AwarenessLand: UzbekistanLand degradation: Salinisation, water degradation(quantity), vegetation degradationInitiative by: Tashkent Environment InformationCentre / Initiative supported by: CARECNGO’s and JournalistsMaking Land DegradationPublic 24
On a Media Tour A media tour to Verkhnechirchiksky hydro station in March management system in Ferghana Valley, desertification in of 2003 had been organized in partnership with the Basin the Aral Sea area. Then the bus headed for Charvak water Water Organization “Syrdarya” which is responsible for , reservoir. Journalists were getting information on the way this waterworks facility. After the journalists inspected the there, too. The “open microphone” provided the opportunity waterworks facility, which controls the supply of water into a for most of the participants to express their opinions channel, there was a discussion of the topic “How to manage regarding the subject of the media tour and the “round table” , water resources?” Experts were talking about automation . as well as to touch upon other urgent issues related to the of the water management industry in Uzbekistan and environment of Uzbekistan. Central Asia, introduction of the integrated water resources Making the Difference Environmentalists are aware that generating publicity about environmental issues is an essential part of their work, yetSetting the Initiative they often lack the training in effective communication withUzbekistan is a landlocked country in the Asian steppes. The a broader lay-audience. Printed press releases may attractcountry is experiencing considerable land degradation and passing interest, but they need to be short to capture anddesertification. Water resources are declining and subject to hold a journalist’s attention. However press releases often doincreased pressure and competition, while waste disposal and not properly describe the complexity of many environmentalloss of biodiversity pose other environmental challenges. issues. Environmental groups and journalists therefore have sought new mechanisms for disseminating information aboutDespite a large media presence in the country, environmental environmental issues. Initially these started off as roundtablesissues receive little national publicity. The main sources of infor- where experts handed out reports to the journalists, informedmation, an environmental bulletin and a government newslet- them about existing problems and answered their questions.ter, are very little read outside government circles. Against this This rather formal format was later augmented by media tours,background a group of journalists and environmentalists came which allowed the media to ‘see’ the issues at first hand, atogether in 2002 to form the Tashkent Environment Information particular important aspect for TV broadcasters who look forCentre. Its aim is to build links between the media and environ- visual cues to back up the facts. The tours also provide opportu-mental professionals from NGOs and the government, in order nities for more interaction between the two groups. An ‘open-to raise public and political awareness about environmental microphone’ on the tour bus allows participants to discuss theproblems. The idea is to give professional environmentalists issues in more depth and the tours also provide opportunitiesmore access to media channels and to provide journalists with for informal networking.the information to communicate about the often complexintertwining of natural and social forces that shape contempo- Through giving broadcasters and journalists first-hand expo-rary environmental problems. sure to some of the key sites where land degradation issues are being played out, there has been a significant increase in mediaSince its founding, the Centre has produced a number of envi- coverage. The tours and roundtables were followed by TV pro-ronmental almanacs that provide reference material for journal- grammes, radio broadcasts and newspaper articles dedicated toists and broadcasters. It has also organised fifteen round tables the problems of water apportioning, land degradation,for environmental professionals and the media and arranged desertification, conserving wildlife and climate change. Thefive tours to key environmental sites, including a hydro-power tours have enabled journalists to better understand the issuesstation, research institutes and national parks. Between thirty and to communicate them with greater clarity. Environmentaland forty journalists or broadcasters participated in each of organisations are keen to participate in these events as theythese tours. More recently, the Centre has established a website realise they create publicity and give them more political lever-as a source for breaking environmental stories and background age. Ongoing dialogues have arisen about how to improvematerial. In 2008 the Centre won a state-run competition for two-way information flows, as environmentalists sometimessupporting NGOs, which has enabled it to consolidate its work feel that the issues are not reported with sufficient accuracy orand shows official support for its groundbreaking efforts. detail. 25
Basic Case Info 10Inspiring Initiative: Conserving the Sunken FruitGardens of Southern IranLand: IranLand degradation: Soil degradation by watererosion, losses to urban developmentInitiative by: CENESTAA Living Example ofTraditional Knowledge 26
“In the past grape vines were widespread here. In our village there used to be some 150 underground gardens. I used to have seven myself! My forefather Gholam Reza planted them five generations ago.”Setting the InitiativeBushire, a province in southern Iran, has an extremely hotand arid climate where temperatures can reach more than50 degrees. Rainfall is very low (between 200 and 250mm peryear) and usually occurs in flash floods with most of the water Making the Differencerunning off. Despite these harsh conditions the area has been This traditional method of harvesting rainwater from flashsettled for more than 5,000 years. There is some agriculture, floods involves digging a pit some 2-3 metres wide and 5-6though its spread is limited to within close proximity of wells, metres deep until a layer of greasy soil, locally known as shol isoften 20-30m deep, from which water is still raised using animal reached. The pits are dug in slightly lower areas of land wheretraction. the flash flood water is most likely to gather, and the surround- ing areas are landscaped to maximise the flow of water. The pitsDespite its harshness this environment has given rise to ingen- also provide a moist and cool environment.The bottom of theious techniques for harvesting precious rainwater and using it chamber is then lined with branches and the chamber half filledto grow high-value fruit crops. One method, of building sunken with top soil and young vines or fruit tree saplings are plantedfruit gardens, dates back 4,000 years. It appears very simple, yet in them. For the first year the saplings require watering by hand,it shows a deep understanding of the climate and geology of but afterward the sunken gardens are recharged with waterthe area. These methods have endured for generations, with the from underground sources.garden pits and the knowledge needed to manage them beingpassed on from father to son. One local farmer recounts: “In the Above the ground the pits are protected from grazing animalspast grape vines were widespread here. In our village there used by fences which are surrounded by thorn bushes. As the fruitto be some 150 underground gardens. I used to have seven trees grow they are trained out over a series of stone standsmyself! My forefather Gholam Reza planted them five genera- or pillars (see photo) that provide a lattice framework. Thistions ago”. keeps the fruit off of the ground and makes harvesting easier. The sunken gardens are known to produce yields of up to twoWhereas there were once several thousand sunken fruit gar- tons of fruit each year, providing high-value cash crops for localdens in the province, their continued existence has come under farmers. This method produces plants that are not only highlythreat. Urban development and the construction of a military productive but also very long-lasting: some vines are thoughtcomplex in the heart of the area where these sunken gardens to be more than five hundred years old. Despite the harshhave existed for generations have reduced the number to less climate, the region has much agro-biological diversity. Seventhan ten. Following a lobbying campaign from the Iranian NGO distinct varieties of grapes were found in these sunken gardens,CENESTA the government has decided to declare these few all adapted to this climate. Now that the conservation of theremaining gardens as sites of cultural heritage. It is hoped that garden beds and methods has been achieved, the task is tothe traditional knowledge embodied in these gardens can also conserve these fruit varieties and to keep alive the knowledgebe brought back to life. that made this remarkable regeneration possible. 27
Basic Case Info 11Inspiring Initiative: Fog Collectors in the CoastalBorder of the Atacama DesertLand: ChileLand degradation: Water degradation (quality) by miningInitiative by: Fishermen of the Caletas community,Chañaral Municipality, Pontificia Universidad Católica deChile / Initiative reported by: OLCAFishermen Catching Cloudsfor an Alternative Livelihood 28
A low cost, low maintenance technology The fog catchers are constructed from polypropylene netting (widely used in Chile as a wind break) strung between eucalyptus trees or poles so that the nets face into the wind and ‘catch’ the clouds of fog. The fog condenses on the surface of the netting and the water drips down into a basin dug underneath the net, from where it can be canalized or piped downhill into storage. They are extremely simple and cheap to construct and rely on gravity to do most of the work. Their initial vulnerability to occasional high wind speeds has been corrected, and now the nets can be taken down during storms.Setting the Initiative Making the DifferenceThe Atacama Desert, in the north of Chile, is one of the most The fishermen initially experimented with six fog collectors,arid regions of the world. Communities living by the sea used to with a surface area of 264 square metres which were positionedrely on subsistence fishing for their livelihoods - but waste from six hundred metres above the plots intended to be used forlocal mining operations decimated local fish stocks and threat- agriculture. They found that these nets captured more thanened their livelihoods forcing them to look for alternatives. 1,000 litres of water per day enough to establish plastic green- houses where they grow tomatoes and aloe vera. Since this firstThroughout the year heavy mists blow off the sea, shrouding experiment they have built a further eight fog collectors, morethe high local cliffs and mountains. The fishermen wondered than doubling their water harvesting capacity. As the projectif there was some way to capture the water in the mist and use was initiated by the fishing community itself they have a vestedit for irrigation, thereby creating an alternative livelihood. They interest in sustaining it and in building new alliances with dif-enlisted the help of the Geography Department at the Catholic ferent donors and other support organisations. The nets nowUniversity to set up a study to explore if fog nets (atrapanieblas) also provide water to tourists visiting the nearby Pan de Azúcarwould provide sufficient water to sustain viable agricultural National Park and there are possibilities for developingbusinesses. eco-tourism related enterprises.Other similar projects had been tried elsewhere in Chile and The potential of fog nets has been recognized again and ishad proved technically feasible. However the economics of being discussed with other communities in Chile with similarthem depended on the local topography (which dictated the topographic conditions. One of the researchers involved in theamount of piping needed). In addition there was insufficient project has been involved in establishing fog nets technologylocal social support to maintain the fog nets, so they quickly fell in other Latin American countries as well as in Namibia, Southinto disrepair. In this case the topography was favourable and Africa and Nepal. This simple technology is replicable in otherthe project was initiated by the beneficiaries so there seemed a arid areas with dramatic altitude differences and the rightbetter chance of sustaining the project. weather conditions. 29
Basic Case Info 12Inspiring Initiative: Combating DesertificationThrough Agro-PastoralismLand: PakistanLand degradation: Vegetation degradation byovergrazing and over-exploitation of timber resourcesInitiative by: Society for Conservation and Protection ofEnvironment (SCOPE), Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI)Adapting to Climate Change:a Multi-Functional Response 30
“Fifteen agro-pastoral farms have been set up in the district, each covering 2-3 hectares. These farms combine food crops, agro-forestry and managed grazing. They are set up both as productive units and also as demonstration farms which other farmers can visit and learn new techniques.”Setting the Initiative One key aspect of these farms is the use they make of naturalTharparkar, in Sindh Province, Southeast Pakistan, is a semi- fencing using trees and shrubs. This provides valuable sourcesarid zone, containing much of the Pakistani portion of the Thar of food, gum, fodder, shelter and nutrients, and protects theDesert. Rainfall is very low (200-250mm a year in good years) crops and saplings from grazing animals. The system allowsand seasonal; it rains for just 60-75 days per year. The inhabit- the animals to be kept within the compound for much of theants - who mostly combine semi-nomadic livestock keeping year where they are fed on cuttings from the planted trees. Thiswith small-scale agriculture, are highly dependent on these in turn allows farmers to make better use of their manure andrains for the regeneration of grassland and woody vegeta- so build up soil fertility. Working with national and regionaltion for their grazing animals, the recharging of ground water governments and the Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI), thesupplies and for subsistence agriculture. The district is rich in project has identified suitable drought-resistant crops (milletbiodiversity - it has more than 700 varieties of grasses, shrubs and pulses) and water conservation techniques that are beingand trees - but is also the most food insecure area in Pakistan. adopted by the communities. Education about the importanceFamilies are locked into a vicious circle of poor nutrition, poor of local shrubs and trees is also an important part of the project.health, seasonal migration, indebtedness and illiteracy. This The communities are responsible for the management of thespiral is often triggered by droughts, which are increasing in farms. They have formed co-operative societies and meet once afrequency and severity, and which reduce food and water month to discuss new ideas and technologies.supplies and available grazing. Overgrazing and over-exploita-tion of timber resources (for both fuel and construction) are also The project, which is located in a very remote, inhospitable andundermining the productivity of the rangelands and leading to poor area, is seeking to improve resource use among farmers bydesertification. showing them the benefits of adopting an agro-pastoral system and improving water management. Through such methods it is hoped that local farmers can adapt to climate change, improveMaking the Difference their food production and reverse environmental degradation.SCOPE is a local non-governmental organisation workingto meet the objectives of the United Nations Convention toCombat Desertification. It has established a pastoral livelihoodsupport programme to help local communities improve foodsecurity and to combat drought and desertification. Fifteenagro-pastoral farms have been set up in the district, each cover-ing 2-3 hectares. These farms combine food crops, agro-forestryand managed grazing. They are set up both as productive unitsand also as demonstration farms which other farmers canvisit to learn new techniques. The main crops grown are millet,wheat, sorghum, pulses and vegetables. These are combinedwith tree and bush species that provide fodder for the livestockand the cultivation of saplings that can be used for reforestingthe surrounding area. Planting of Prosipus Cineraria is encour-aged as this is a hardy tree species that provides fodder duringtimes of drought. 31
Basic Case Info 13Inspiring Initiative: Peasant Farming Schoolsin SenegalLand: SenegalLand degradation: Water degradation byagrochemicals, vegetation degradation by deforestationInitiative by: ENDA PRONATInitiative supported by: ENDA SenegalFine-Tuning FarmingTechniques through FarmerSchools 32
“The farmers began to form their own Integrated Farmer Schools where they could continue their experiments with ways of combating desertification.” Making the DifferenceSetting the Initiative The farmers began to form their own Integrated Farmer SchoolsFarmers in the central part of the Senegal Valley face many (IFS) where they could continue their experiments with ways ofthreats to their livelihoods. combating desertification, adapting to visible climatic changesSeveral droughts have weakened the Sahelian ecosystem and and improving productivity through agroecological farming.this, combined with overexploitation of natural resources, has Together they have continued to learn about seed selectionreduced the natural productivity of the region. The construction and propagation, pest control and water harvesting andof a dam on the Senegal River placed further pressure on tradi- management, fine-tuning the techniques that they learnttional farming methods, leading to changes in farming practices before and adapting them to the local situation. Working collec-and a widespread uptake of irrigated farming, which required tively they are also able to address larger issues that affect thethe use of external inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides. farming community: problems which range from maintaining communal resources (e. water pumps or wells) to working outPronat is a branch of the international NGO ENDA. It has been viable strategies for commercialising their products, to posingworking with farmers in the Guédé area for more than twenty a united front against land developments that harm their inter-years, sensitising them to the problems of climate change, ests. By using agroecological techniques such as composting,desertification and modern input-intensive farming methods companion planting, and natural pest control these farms haveand encouraging them to adopt agroecological farming meth- been able to substantially reduce their input costs. On modern-ods. To popularise these approaches Pronat introduced Peasant ising farms these costs represent some two thirds of revenueFarming Schools (Champs École Paysan- CEP), an approach that generated - but on the application farms these costs are lesshas proved highly effective in other parts of the world, par- than 20%.ticularly Asia. This is an informal system of education where alimited number of voluntary farmers (up to about twenty) meet A local federation of peasants associations (Ngatamaare Tooro)on a small piece of land for discussions, research, experimenta- has been created to enable these IFSs to continue to expand.tion, capacity building and learning new techniques. The federation provides a valuable point of contact with theThe schools give farmers an opportunity to test new methods outside world (for example for finding the expertise that farm-and techniques before applying them on their farms. The farms ers want tap into). In addition a network of twelve eco-schoolsare also working farms (‘farms of application’), which generate has been created, wherein children are involved in kitchenan income by selling the produce they grow, and are thus self gardening, learning ecological farming techniques and growingsupporting. When the initial project funding ran out, the farmers food which can be used for school meals with any surplus beingdecided to continue with running the schools themselves. sold. The organisation is looking for ways to tap into the bounti-They saw that the schools and the peasants’ associations that ful supplies of natural energy, particularly solar and wind, ahad sprung up around them gave them a structure for working currently unused resource. ENDA Pronat continues to work withand learning together. Ngatamaare Tooro, helping it grow in confidence and capacity. 33
Basic Case Info 14Inspiring Initiative: Planning for Urban MarketGardens in NouakchottLand: MauritaniaLand degradation: Water degradation (quantity),urban developmentInitiative by: TENMIYAReviving the Green Lungsof the City 34
“Farmers are now more aware of their role in the urban ecosystem and are committed to farming in a more sustainable way. In turn, the local authority has developed a plan to encourage urban farming.” Making the Difference TENMIYA, a local NGO and research centre, became involved in resolving these conflicts by facilitating a strategic research action plan involving the Urban community of Nouakchott, the local municipalities, departments in the Ministry of Agri-Setting the Initiative culture, the National Institute of Public Health, the local officesNouakchott is the capital of Mauritania, one of the countries in of some international organisations (WHO and UNDP) and thethe Sahel most affected by drought and desertification. Rainfall market gardeners of Nouakchott. Its first task was to evaluateis low, with less than 300 mm per year. The country experienced the importance of market gardening in terms of socio-econom-prolonged droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. These contributed ics, the environment, health and food security and how marketto a massive exodus of rural dwellers to Nouakchott and led to gardening fitted with the existing local municipal plans. Thisthe establishment of numerous urban market gardens, some highlighted the importance of market gardening and the issuesclose to the centre of the city, but mostly in Dar Naim, a munici- it was giving rise to, which in turn led to the development of apality on the edge of the capital. Some of these new migrants local plan to support and maintain these market gardens andestablished market gardens which provided an important resolve the problems. Water management was the key issue,source of livelihood for people whose main experience and and the report highlighted the need to improve the efficiencyskills lay in agriculture. Some 6,000 people now work in produc- of water use and the potential of drip irrigation systems intion and distribution. They also provide an important supply of achieving this.Finance was found to install drip irrigationfresh vegetables for the city as well as helping to stabilise the systems, considerably reducing the burden that the gardenerssand dunes surrounding the city and providing green oases in put on local water resources and the need to recycle potentiallythe urban environment. polluted waste water.Yet in recent years, competition for two scarce resources, water As a result of this collaboration, farmers are now more aware ofand land, have threatened the successful continuation of these their role in the urban ecosystem and are committed to farmingmarket gardens. There were concerns that the gardens were in a more sustainable way, improving water management anddrawing too much water from local aquifers, a precious and maintaining the city’s ‘green lungs’. In turn, the local authorityfinite resource, and the alternative of reusing urban wastewater has developed a plan to encourage urban farming, has takenclearly posed major health risks. At the same time, the expan- development pressure off of the plots run by farmers and ission of the city put increasing pressure on land resources, supportive of grant applications by farmers to develop theirwith more land being bought up for development. As the city skills and resources. The result has been a fruitful partnershipexpanded, the market gardens, once located on the outskirts between the market gardeners and the municipality of Darof the city, became surrounded by built-up areas and became Naim. The market gardens look set to provide a continued sup-attractive sites for future development. In one area the local ply of local fresh vegetables, thereby helping to maintain themunicipality went as far as to ban market gardening. food supply and nutritional security of Nouakchott. 35
Basic Case Info 15Inspiring Initiative: Windbreak HedgesLand: MadagascarLand degradation: Soil degradation by wind erosionInitiative by: Groupe de Recherches et d’ÉchangesTechnologique (GRET)Initiative supported by: ENDA MadagascarFighting the Tiokatimo Winds:Farmers Experiment 36
“The farmers who have participated in the initiative see the windbreak hedges as a way of protecting their plots against wind erosion and drifting sands, thereby increasing their income.” Making the Difference FASARA set up an initiative with several interested farmers to explore the possibility of using wind break hedges to mitigate the erosive effects of the strong south easterly winds. At the same time these wind breaks could also protect the plots from roaming cattle and wildlife and be a source of fruit, fodder and fuel. FASARA worked with farmer groups, discussing the suit- ability of different species and identified several with a poten- tial for success. Choosing the best species was often complex, and different groups and families had different preferences. Two women’s associations initially supported by the project took on responsibility for establishing nurseries and growing the seedlings. However, some plants were difficult to cultivate in the nursery, others grew too slowly in the field and others did not bear foliage in the windy season. In the early years theSetting the Initiative mortality rate of trees was very high (50%). The lines of treesThe south of Madagascar is a semi-arid region with very low which were planted in staggered rows one metre apart, grewrainfall and very little ground water. The coastal area in the quite slowly and villagers and project researchers decided toAndroy region is subject to fierce winds - the Tiokatimo winds combine the two approaches, planting a line of cactuses on the- that blow in off the sea. These winds dry out an already arid windward side of the fences to give them additional protectionarea, damage crops, cause soil erosion and shift sandbanks. in the first year or two.This increases the problems of small scale farmers, especially inthe areas close to the coast where cultivated plots of land can The combination of approaches proved successful. In the fourquickly be inundated with sand. In addition, the land closest to year period between 2005 and 2009 the nursery groups havethe sea was eroded many years ago through ploughing. supplied more than 170,000 trees which have led to the plant- ing of around 150 km of living fences by around 200 differentThe FASARA project - initiated by the organisations GRET and farm households. The farmers who have participated in theENDA - instigated a series of village meetings and communal initiative see the windbreak hedges as a way of protectingworkshops in order to explore the agricultural practices, choices their plots against wind erosion and drifting sands, therebyand preferences of communities and individual farmers. Issues increasing their income. However it takes some time to preparesuch as erosion, shifting sandbanks and declining soil fertility the ground before planting the windbreaks and this probablywere top of the villagers’ concerns. Farmers had already formed contributed to the high mortality rates of the saplings. Despitesome responses to these problems such as planting prickly these teething difficulties FASARA has established a good dia-pear or aloe vera to mark their farm boundaries and to keep logue with local communities and in the coming years aims toout grazing cattle; these also provided fruit for livestock. Yet encourage farmers to plant in slack times during the agricultur-they also often burned these back after the end of the growing al calendar, to ensure the provision of replacement seedlings forseason, when the plots are most exposed to the wind. those saplings that died, and to encourage more farmers to join. 37
Basic Case Info 16Inspiring Initiative: Restoring Biodiversity withNative Plants / Land: ChileLand degradation: Vegetation degradation byextensive forestry monoculture, soil and waterdegradation by agro-chemical useInitiative by: Hguallen Pelu MapuInitiative reported by: OLCAIndigenous CommunitiesResponding to MonocultureTree Plantations 38
People from the surrounding area are invited to participate in the development of the tree nursery; to visit places where combinations of selected native species are helping to protect water sources. The destructive effects of monoculture and the ways to restore biodiversity are also explained in programmes broadcast on local radio stations.Setting the InitiativeIn the past twenty years or so large areas of Chile have been Making the Differenceafforested with large plantations of fast growing timber crops, In response to the challenges, a local community organisation,such as eucalyptus and pine. While some of these plantations Hguallen Pelu Mapu, has established a programme entitledhave been established on deforested land, others were planted “Water and wisdom, dialogues for life.” They began by study-on lands traditionally used by indigenous peoples, in particular ing ways of addressing the exhaustion of water sources. Theythe Mapuche. Chile now has some 2 million hectares of land gathered one of the affected communities and established aplanted with fast growing timber species, which make huge dialogue with an organisation of foresters. This dialogue led todemands on local water resources. The scale and density of an experimental project to reforest specific places with nativethese operations has played havoc with the local ecology. Rivers species to protect water sources, with the idea of using theand streams which the Mapuche used to rely on for domestic knowledge acquired to replicate the same process in other ruralconsumption, for fishing and for their agriculture have dried up areas affected by lack of water, deforestation and land degrada-and have become polluted by agrochemicals used in differ- tion.ent phases of developing the plantations and aerial spraying.Many places where the Mapuche used to collect mushrooms This programme was established in the rural municipality ofand herbal and medicinal plants have been planted over. New Keuke, whose river had dried up. The programme had two keyanimal species, introduced by the timber companies to control aims. The first was to sensitise local people about what wasrabbit and hare populations, have disrupted the food chain. happening and of the possibility of changing the situation. The second, more practical, aspect was to establish a tree nurseryThese problems have led to many Mapuche abandoning their for local indigenous varieties and then to start replanting thesetraditional lands and way of life, often going to live in larger varieties on lands still owned by the communities close to thecities, where they end in poverty. In one community, Los Sauces, river’s sources.the population declined by 16% between 1992 and 2002. Insome places whole settlements have been abandoned because The initiative is primarily an educational programme. Peopleof a lack of water. In other places the Mapuche people have had from the surrounding area are invited to participate in theto abandon traditional mixed farming practices and start grow- development of the tree nursery; to visit places where combi-ing the same species to sell to wood mills of the timber compa- nations of selected native species are helping to protect waternies. Many communities now rely on deliveries of water in order sources. Workshops are organised for sharing experiences andto survive. The dense plantations also pose a fire hazard to the discussing ways of addressing the problems caused by treehomes and villages of the Mapuche, as they often come right to plantations. These issues are also explained in programmesthe edge of their settlements. Finally, the size and scale of the broadcasted on local radio stations. A nursery has been estab-plantations give rise to a sense of cultural dislocation among lished with a capacity for producing 6-10,000 local saplingsthe native people, who no longer feel at home in the environ- and it is hoped that the planting programme will help protectment - especially when the trees are cut for timber, leaving vast the Keuke basin and bring sufficient clean water back to thebarren swathes of hillside. villagers. 39
Basic Case Info 17Inspiring Initiative: Civil Society DrivenConservation LegislationLand: TurkeyInitiative by: TEMA and other Turkish civil society groupsOne Million Signatures forSoil Conservation 40