Co-design of practical technique using local materials and knowledge to control water erosion with improvement of household income in Niger, West Africa
T. Shimizu, U. Tanaka, Y. Sasaki, K. Ikazaki, H. Shinjo and H. Nakamura
Desertification remains a serious problem despite several commitments from international communities, including the UNCCD (1994), to address it. Difficulty of desertification control may be explained from its complexity and causes directly related to human activities for basic survival and daily livelihood, such as cropping, animal husbandry and gathering of fuel wood. It means that efforts to desertification control should be made with keeping its causes.
Many techniques have been introduced to control desertification to date, but most are, unfortunately, not adopted by local people. Introduced techniques, however scientifically sound and rational, may not match the needs and situation of local people, e.g. in relation to cost, or time and labor requirement. Some techniques are highly dependent on materials and machinery from outside that may not be affordable locally or normally available.
Together with volunteer villagers in the western part of Niger, we designed one technique combining local materials and indigenous technique to control soil erosion by water. In an on-farm experiment, we set a line of local wild perennial grass (Andropogon gayanus Kunth) with indigenous planting technique, zai, along the contour line in a cultivated field. The grass line may be effective to control erosion. At the same time, participating villagers put more focus on collecting run-off water by this setting which facilitates growth of the grass. The grass harvested is used for their daily life such as the materials of housing, granary, shading and so on. Moreover, it is sold in local market which becomes an alternative source of income. In the market place, one big Mat(L6m x H1.5m) of the grass, for instance, is traded around 2,000Fcfa(€3.0)-6,000Fcfa(€9.1) depend on the season. Usually, 1sac (100kg) of powder maize (equivalent to 1month for 10familly members) can be bought around 17,500Fcfa-20,000Fcfa, therefore villagers are able to make up for shortfall of food with it.
The experience shows the possibility of establishing a practical technique with locally available material that contributes both to household income and erosion control.
Keyword: Co-design, Household income, Indigenous knowledge, Local material, Practical technique, Water erosion control,