Promoting healthy ecosystems to build resilience to climate change


IIED Climate Adaptation Films - Africa

The IIED has produced two new short videos on climate adaptation techniques in Africa. These simple and cheap solutions are helping farmers adapt to climate change, maintain crop yields, and reverse devastating soil erosion.

In Burkina Faso, farmers are drawing on indigenous knowledge, constructing stone lines or ‘bunds’ to slow water as it runs over the land, increase water infiltration and form the basis for improved production in semi-arid areas. At the same time, sediment is captured behind these semi-permeable barriers, preventing soils erosion and adding to the fertility of the land. Stone lines are a traditional technique used in the Sahel, but have been improved by careful construction and through aligning them with natural contours.

A perennial grass (Andropogon guyanus) is sometimes planted to supplement the lines where stone is scarce. Stone lines are suited to gentle slopes with high runoff and for areas that have a lot of labour available. This technique is readily adopted by resource-poor farmers and can ensure a harvest even in years with low or erratic rainfall. Wide and deep planting pits (‘zai’ in Burkina Faso; ‘tassa’ in Niger) are often used in combination, acting as micro-catchments in the fields.

In the second film, Kenyan farmers build ‘Fanya juu’ terraces (this means ‘throw the soil up’ in Kiswahili). These are the most popular and successful cross-slope barrier measures used in Kenya's small scale farming sector. Contour earth bunds are constructed by throwing soil upwards from trenches immediately below them. This design leads to the gradual formation of terraces with a level or slightly forward sloping bed.

This is a very versatile technology ideally suited to smallholder farms, especially in sub-tropical areas where the land is sloping and erosion is a serious threat. Fodder grasses are often planted on the bunds and fed to livestock. In particularly dry areas, water harvesting from roads into the trenches allows for the production of bananas and other fruits. This is a proven and effective adaptation technology in the highlands of East Africa and beyond.

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Posted: 7/7/2011 (9:57:40 AM)

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