Reducing the risk of desertification
Strategies used to reduce the risk of desertification – water and soil management, tree planting and use of appropriate technology.
There are many different strategies for reducing the risk of desertification. This includes water management, tree planting, soil management and using appropriate technology.
Crops can be grown that don’t need very much water (e.g. olives and millet). This helps reduce water use. Drip irrigation schemes can be set up which means little erosion happens compared to adding a large amount of water in one go. Planting pits or zai involves digging a hollow in the soil and planting crops in them. They collect rainfall and runoff in the depression which means there is a regular supply of water to the plant.
Growing trees in amongst crops ensure the soil remains fertile as there is a regular supply of nutrients through leaf litter. Also, the roots hold the soil together reducing the risk of it being eroded. Trees also protect the soil from wind erosion as they act like windbreaks. Trees also provide shade which reduces evaporation rates from the soil and reduces temperatures. The Great Green Wall is an example of a large-scale tree planting scheme in The Sahel.
Allowing land to rest between growing crops and grazing allows it nutrients to recover which means it can be used again in the future. Changing the crops (crop rotation) means the same nutrients are not removed from the soil. Local people can produce their own compost and add it to the soil to replace nutrients.
Appropriate technology means using cheap, sustainable and available materials that local people can use. Stone lines (or bunds) are an example of appropriate technology. This involves building lines of stones along contours (area of land that is the same height). These stones trap soil being transported by the wind so that it is isn’t eroded. Also, the stone lines reduce the flow of water over the surface of the land which means top soil, rich in nutrients, is not eroded. Also, by reducing the flow of water, more water enters the soil.
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