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About Terra Verde

When the German Development Aid ended the successful aid project PATECORE we continued – since 2006″

Melchior Landolt, founder Terra Verde e.V.

The challenge

Stopping the desert with stones

For 20 years we have been fighting for a fairer and greener world by closing the hunger and poverty trap in Burkina Faso. Our concrete goal: To give hope again to the suffering peasant families in the Shael Zone by helping them to help themselves. To achieve this we are directly on site and support 450 farmers’ organisations.

Good arable land is lacking – the population is growing

In Burkina Faso the potential of suitable arable land has been exhausted. The rapidly growing population can only be fed in the future if the yields of existing arable land are increased. The rural population will double to 40 million people by 2050. If we do not make an effort now to continuously intensify agriculture, the estimated need for 4 million hectares of new arable land will be at the expense of the forest stand.

Recultivate fallow land and stop erosion

When it rains during the four-month rainy season in West African Burkina Faso, it is short and very heavy. In many cases, the rains do more harm than good, because after the long dry season the bare arable soils are crusted and the rainwater cannot penetrate the soil fast enough.

Even small slopes form torrential streams, which erode the fertile soil – if still present. We were able to find a way to use both the rainwater and the sediments for the recultivation of depleted wasteland. The result: arable land that has been cultivated by small farmers for 25 years.

© Filip Erlind

From pilot project to solution



Start in 1987

Together with the state, authorities and farmers

1987 - 1994 Planning and research

The Landolt effect: Help for self-help becomes scalable

2000: Farmers are trained as role models

The end for PATECORE

2004: acute emergency situation

Transfer of the baton to Terra Verde

2005: Terra Verde is founded


Ganz Burkina Faso startet unter Präsident Thomas Sankara den „Kampf gegen die Verwüstung der Ackerböden“

The Sahel in West Africa has been considered a negative example of desertification since the drought disaster of 1984; this is the name given to the progressive spread of deserts and desert-like areas due to overpopulation and the resulting exploitation of the land by livestock and people.

After the assassination of Sankara, his fight against the deserts survived with the help of the first German aid project PATECORE.

Gefördert durch das BMZ (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung)

With the death of Sankara, the orientation of politics towards the common good also died in favour of profit taking and corruption. The breakthrough came when small farmers were given the opportunity to act more independently.

Gemeinsam mit den Bauern

Personal responsibility becomes a building block of success under Melchior Landolt as team leader of the German GTZ

effects in 2003:

  • the State withdraws from the implementation
  • more than 450 village farmers' organisations are trained to carry out and plan independently
  • Result: with the doubling of the area output on the fields, the planned annual targets were far exceeded

die Katastrophe der Kleinbauern

In 2004, the German government abruptly discontinued the successful PATECORE project.

  1. 20,000 farming families are first dismayed and then desperate
  2. So how are they supposed to protect their soils from erosion and thus increase the grain harvest?
  3. Under the leadership of Melchior Landolt, the project team is planning how a project handover can be initiated and how the farmers will not fall into the "hunger trap" again
Bereits existierende Strukturen und Mitarbeiter werden erhalten

Terra Verde e.V. and IDD Burkina are founded in Germany and Burkina Faso:

  1. Existing structures of PATECORE are transferred in a streamlined way
  2. The local partner will be the non-profit non-governmental organisation IDD-BURKINA (formerly ALCD) under the leadership of PATECORE employee Oumarou Ouedraogo
  3. Terra-Verde has been able to mobilise over two million euros of public funds to finance the projects
Leistungen die zählen

Our track record

  • 12 successfully completed projects
  • Construction of the eco-centre
  • Construction of a radio station
  • Informal government advice to the ministries of agriculture, environment and (school) education
  • Advising KfW and BMZ (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) at project level

The effect of half a million tons of laid stone

  • Over 10,000 farming families no longer suffer from hunger
  • More than 15,000 young people and adults at the Eco Centre have recognised the environmental crisis and the threat of losing their livelihoods.

Agriculture, ecology and politics form a unity
A new area of responsibility has been created: POLITICAL ECOLOGY

About us


From politics, science and agriculture

Picture: DBU

“I wish you the greatest possible success”

“The project “Stones against the desert” I have noted with great interest and much sympathy. Above all, however, I am very concerned that soils have remained something like the forgotten component of environmental policy. This is all the more incomprehensible when one considers that soil once eroded by erosion can never be returned.

So I wish you the greatest possible success for this project. I would be grateful if we could stay in touch.”

Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer
Bundsminister und Exekutivdirektor des Umweltprogramms der Vereinten Nationen, Träger des Deutschen Umweltpreises 2002

© Mark Dodd / The Right Livelihood Award

“Together we can stop the desert”

“My friends from the IDD and Terra Verde are companions for the future of Burkina Faso. Stopping the desert is the path that the whole Sahel zone has before it”.

Yacouba Sawadogo
Träger des Alternativen Friedensnobelpreises 2018, Bauer aus Burkina Faso

Picture: Biovision

“An exemplary nutritional basis for present and future generations”

“My vision is a world with enough and healthy food for all, produced by healthy people in a healthy environment. In this sense Terra-Verde e.V. and its Burkinabe partner association successfully support small farmers in Burkina Faso. They improve the nutritional basis of present and future generations and thus contribute to reducing the number of poverty and environmental refugees. The example of Terra-Verde e.V. shows that a lot can be achieved with high commitment”.

Dr. Hans Rudolf Herren
Stellvertretender Vorsitzender des Weltagrarrats, Präsident des Millennium Institute. Ausgezeichnet mit dem Welternährungspreis

Picture: DBU

“The track record so far is remarkable”

“Already on the drive to Kongoussi (120 km north of Ouagadougou) we noticed the innumerable contour stone walls on the farmland, the effects of which were immediately visible to us: the areas built with stone walls have a deeper topsoil and the growth of woody plants is much greater than on uncultivated areas.

Mr. Landolt and his colleagues have proven that a lot can be achieved with commitment and professional knowledge. The track record to date is remarkable. Terra-Verde e.V. is a trustworthy and good address for committed people, organisations and foundations who want to participate in the field of global poverty reduction and global environmental policy”.

Prof. Dr. Ernst-Detlef Schulze
Träger des Deutschen Umweltpreises 2006, Gründungsdirektor am Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie, ehem. Mitglied des Wissenschaftlichen Beirats der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveränderungen

Picture: ©WorldResources Inst.

“Our recommendation to policy makers”

“… a very important locomotive of an impressive success story was the German-Burkinabe project PATECORE, which is being continued by former project staff. Together with the staff of the University of Ouagadougou we have documented the positive effects of soil and water conservation. Our recommendation to the political decision-makers is to give farmers much more support to preserve the natural environment and increase soil fertility. I know the employees of Terra-Verde e.V. and its Burkinabe partner association very well and wish them every success in their work”.

Dr. Chris Reij
Geograph, Forscher und Dozent an der Freien Universität Amsterdam. Leitendes Mitglied des World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C
finance & orga

How we use our funds

The office in Germany is responsible for the organisational and logistical framework for the activities of members, cooperation with partner associations and public bodies such as the BMZ and KfW.

Learn more about our structure and how our funds reach the rural population in need.

The success model: People with people – governments with governments

The results of the successful German-Burkinabe project PATECORE (1987 -2006) remain impressive:

  • 100,000 hectares of farmland covered with stone walls
  • over 2.5 million cubic metres of stone laid (volume of the Cheops Pyramid)
  • Contour stone walls in a length of 30,000 kilometres

This is an impressive achievement, but the farmers want and have to use many times more of the area they have used up to now in order to secure food supplies in the future. The non-profit farmers’ organisation IDD Burkina is supporting us in the implementation:

  • organizational partner
  • Contact point for the demand of farmers
  • Interface with local and national politicians

We have become more and more efficient for 30 years

Today we are as effective as PATECORE, but far more efficient. In 2017, the Minister of the Environment, Nestor Batio Bassière, will open our eco-centre, where we will offer free agricultural training. By disseminating knowledge in training courses, we address the issues of generational justice, children’s rights and the right to a healthy environment. In this way we generate the demand from Kleinauern day after day – the most important success factor for new projects.

Contour stone walls tame the rainwater

We help the farmers to build a simple but sophisticated system of different contour stone walls to take the force of the destructive rainfalls and make the collected water usable.

What we can do

Neither the state nor the farmers have the means to finance the transport of the stones. That is why they need our support and our know-how.

Our standards

generate demand

The success of our method actively generates demand from small farmers and the desire for participation of political decision-makers in agriculture.

Investing in success

We systematically repeat our successes and can scale all steps. After more than 20 years of operational experience we are well prepared for all situations.

Genuine solidarity communities

Because we ensure sustainable food supplies, the respective region is also politically and socially stabilised. Help us to realize a greener and fairer world in Burkina Faso.

Helping small farmers to help themselves

Africa needs African solutions. The outdated donor-recipient mentality is being replaced by a partnership-based cooperation with initiative and ownership.

Training in our local Eco Centre

In our Eco Center we document the destruction of the natural environment and train farmers for sustainable cultivation.

Our local non-profit partner association

Highest transparency, planning reliability and cost control. Our partner organisation IDD Burkina serves over 450 farmers’ organisations in Burkina Faso.

Model for the Sahel - do you want to be part of it?

We are looking for strong partners and committed people to work for a fairer and greener future.

Join in now!

Personal commitment

Would you like to do voluntary work?
Then you can find more information about the cooperation here

Helping as a company

Do you want to do something good as a company?
We advise you on the possibilities and support you in the implementation.

Cooperate as a foundation

Terra Verde creates participation opportunities for foundations so that many good deeds can be turned into something great.