The vegetation is declining or disappearing, water is becoming scarce and the soil is eroding. This has not only global consequences, because Burkinabe farmers fight against hunger year after year. With ”Stones against the deserts” a project with model character for the Sahel zone has been successful in over 20 years, which deserves your support. The constantly growing demand of the farmers and their strong self-participation secures the food supply sustainably and stabilizes the respective region. Let us repeat these results together.
“Fighting hunger in the Sahel was my job,” says Melchior Landolt, then team leader of the PATECORE project of German development aid and current Terra Verde founder.
“We support the farmers logistically and in the transfer of knowledge so that they could independently create new arable land from fallow land”. Word of the success of the project spread quickly and the demand of other farmers to participate increased.
“The attitude of the Burkinabe peasants impressed us all. In scorching heat, the people were ready to break stones with crowbars and pickaxes and lay them in the fields. 150 days of hard work are brought in per hectare. We support the formation of neighbourly solidarity communities of farmers who help each other in the fight against hunger. Year after year, this solidarity also strengthens the community in the villages, because everyone wants to finish building the stone walls in time for the rainy season.
The Sahel zone is a difficult habitat; the soils are naturally poor, there are long dry seasons and, in addition, there are high fluctuations in the distribution of precipitation.
The Sahel experienced the worst droughts between 1972 and 1975, and in the mid-1980s; about one million people starved to death. In addition, many people left the affected countries as environmental refugees and moved to countries further south with higher rainfall, such as Côte d’Ivoire.
Until the “Research Institute for Climate Prediction” disproved the thesis of some experts, the opinion remained that the overgrazing of the already sparse vegetation had led to even less rain falling in the region. It is rather true that a strongly warmed Indian Ocean is to blame for this development, because the temperature difference between land and sea has decreased due to this warming, which in turn has weakened the monsoon over the land.
More information about the Sahel drought
Most of the country consists of a dry savannah with sparse tree cover, which is increasingly being cleared for food and cotton cultivation and converted into arable land. In the southwest the vegetation becomes much denser in the transition to the wet savannahs. This is why this region is an immigration area; especially for environmental refugees from the Central Plateau. Agriculture is characterised by progressive soil degradation and a high degree of dependence on climate change. Overgrazing and population pressure are further complicating matters.
An annual rainfall of approx. 600 mm is sufficient for arable farming if the rainfall is well distributed. However, if the rain falls for only four months, followed by an 8-month dry season, it becomes difficult to grow profitable crops. As a result of rapid climate change and thus an increasing spatial and temporal variation of the rainy season, years of drought occur again and again. In order to allow as much water as possible to penetrate the soil, rapid surface runoff must be prevented. This is best done by building contour stone walls. The construction of contour stone walls is a technique of water and soil conservation.
In the past, farmers simply migrated in the event of critical weather changes, but today the increased population growth does not allow neighbouring countries to take in further environmental and poverty refugees – over 2 million emigrants from Burkina Faso already live in Côte d’Ivoire.