Indigenous soil and water conservation practices are rarely acknowledged in the design of conventional development projects. Instead, the history of soil and water conservation in Africa has been one of imposing external solutions without regard for local practice. There is a remarkably diverse range of locally developed and adapted technologies for the conservation of water and soil, well suited to their particular site and socio-economic conditions. But such measures have been ignored, and sometimes even overturned, by external solutions. Sustaining the Soil documents farmers' practices, exploring the origins and adaptations carried out by farmers over generations, in response to changing circumstances. Through a comparative analysis of conservation measures - from the humid zones of West Africa to the arid lands of the Sudan, from rock terraces in Morocco to the grass strips of Swaziland - the book explores the various factors that influence adoption and adaptation; farmers' perceptions of conservation needs; and the institutional and policy settings most favorable to more effective land husbandry. For the first time on an Africa-wide scale, this book shows that indigenous techniques work, and are being used successfully to conserve and harvest soil and water. These insights combine to suggest new ways forward for governments and agencies attempting to support sustainable land management in Africa, involving a fusion of traditional and modern approaches, which makes the most of both the new and the old.
Sustaining the soil ? Making the most of local knowledge ? Drought and the need to change ? The mastery of water ? Mountains, foothills and plains ? Improving traditional planting pits in the Tahoua Department ? Rehabilitating degraded land ? A measure for every site ? The zai ? Mulching on the Central Plateau of Burkina Faso ? Firki-masakwa cultivation in Borno, north-east Nigeria ? Indigenous SWC in Southern Zimbabwe ? Environmental change and livelihood responses ? ?Grandfather?s way of doing? ? How rice cultivation became an ?indigenous? farming practice in Maswa district, Tanzania ? Making the most of compost ? Cultivating the valleys ? Pit cultivation in the Matengo Highlands of Tanzania ? ?Back to the grass strips? ? The ?flexibility? of indigenous SWC techniques ? Traditional ditches in Northern Shewa, the Ethiopian Highlands ? Creating an inventory of indigenous SWC measures in Ethiopia ? Local farming in the former Transhei, South Africa ? Traditional SWC techniques in the Mandara Mountains, Northern Cameroon ? New perspectives on local conservation techniques ? The rapid evolution of small-basin irrigation on the Jos Plateau, Nigeria ? A SWC system under threat ? Evolution of traditional techniques of soil conservation in the Bamileke region, West Cameroon