Yes! A solution has been found to fight desertification but beyond this solution, there is a man and his story, a story so fascinating that a movie was made: The Man Who Stopped The Desert. His name is Yacouba Sawadogo, a farmer in Burkina Faso. A lot has already been said about Yacouba, so I am not going to repeat his wonderful story. See the reference box at the end for more information!
Finding solutions to fight desertification has eluded the efforts of development organizations, scientists, and international experts for too long. How much money had been spent already! I prefer not to think about it! And the solution was already there, already used a long time ago in Burkina Faso: the zaï.
Roger Pilon, Editor
The Planet Fixer Digest
- find a system that can retain water
- a system that help crops survive during dry spells
- a simple system that can be implemented with very basic tools
- a simple system that can be implemented in barren lands
- a simple system that can be implemented where there is rain between 400 mm and 800 mm per year
- Start the process in spring, or the dry season if you live in the Sahel
- Find an area of flat barren land
- You will need hard packed earth with low rainfall, between 400 mm and 800 mm per year
- You will also need a large team of helpers
- Working in rows, hack pits into the ground with a shovel-axe, about 30cm wide and 20cm deep
- Step forwards over your pits and continue this process until the area is completely covered with pits
- Fill the pit with compost. This can be made from rotted cow/sheep dung, leaves, and ashes from wood-fueled stoves
- In each pit put a few seeds of millet or sorghum
- If you happen to have a termite mound nearby you are in luck. These guys will help break down your soil and encourage rain infiltration
Like most great ideas, zaï is a simple and easily communicated concept. Here is how to make your own zaï pits:
VIDEO – The Man Who Stopped The Desert
The sound was too high on my computer when playing back. Maybe it will be better on your computer. Good Luck!