Rebuilding the land II – plugging the soil leaks

| October 26, 2023

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This edition’s story from Burkina Faso talks about planting vegetative barriers to prevent siltation and pollution of waterways. Our Script of the week discusses this and other practices for maintaining healthy ecosystems. 

The hilly regions around Mt. Elgon in eastern Uganda are some of the most fertile in East Africa. As a result, farmers from the surrounding areas have gravitated there over the years. Because of the increasing population, people have burned bushes and cleared forests to pave the way for ever-increasing human activities. 

Because of this increased pressure on the land, soil erosion is widespread in many areas. 

In 2011, an international NGO called the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) started a campaign in the region to restore the forest landscape that had been completely destroyed by years of bush burning and tree cutting, to strengthen the local capacity to implement “ecosystem-based” adaptations to climate change, and to reduce the vulnerability of communities in the Mt. Elgon ecosystem.

Through a project called Ecosystem-based adaptation to Climate Change, IUCN encouraged farmers to dig trenches across the slopes of their hilly fields, create contour bands in their fields, and plant elephant grass along the boundary lines of their farms. They encouraged those who lived along river banks to leave a 15-metre wide buffer zone between the river and the farm, and to adopt practices like mulching, irrigation and planting trees.

The outcome has been that slowly but surely, over the last three years, the soils have been regaining their fertility and many farmers are quite pleased that they heeded IUCN’s advice.

This script is based on actual interviews. You could choose to produce this script as part of your regular farmer program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If you do, remember to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.

You could also use this script as inspiration to research and develop a radio program on the benefits of reducing soil erosion in your own area.

If you choose to use this script as inspiration for creating your own program, you could talk to farmers and other experts, and ask the following questions:

  • What do farmers in your area do to ensure that running water does not wash away topsoil on their farms?
  • What are the reasons for not adopting practices that reduce soil erosion? For example, in Kapchorwa, in eastern Uganda, some farmers along river banks believe that creating a buffer zone between the river and the farm is a waste of good farmland, while others fear that the buffer zone could end up being taken away by the government and added to the nearby national park.
  • Have some farmers found solutions to these and other challenges? If so, invite these farmers – or extension agents and other experts – to tell their stories on-air. Rebuilding the land II – plugging the soil leaks