Restoring degraded land - it's all in the method
Florence Nzilani Musau explains how terraces are making a difference to their environment.
The previously degraded land of the Nyeki Ndune self-help group has been transformed into fertile farmland.
Since building sand dams and terracing their land, the self-help group's crop yields have much improved.
Climate-smart farming techniques not only transform lives, but also environments. With the right methods, barren landscapes, where little has grown for years, suddenly turn into green farm land that yields crops, even during droughts.
This is exactly what happened to the surroundings of the Nyeki Ndune self-help group in rural southeast Kenya. The group has been working hard to regenerate their degraded farmland for three years now, with training and tools provided by our partners, Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF).
“We built two sand dams” explains Florence Nzilani Musau, the chairlady of the group. "I can’t really remember the exact number of trees we have planted since, but about 300 trees have survived in our group. This year we are targeting to plant 500 trees."
"Trees are important in that they provide food like fruits that help build our bodies… Some other varieties bring shade and fresh air especially during the hot season."
Trees also prevent the soil from eroding and of course absorb carbon dioxide, and therefore mitigate the effects of climate change. But the group’s work doesn’t stop with trees.
"The most important thing that I have learned from ASDF is the digging of terraces, the 'three by two feet' method” Florence explains.
"Terraces have had a big impact in our farms. Before, our shallow terraces would soon be covered up by soil, and we had the work of re-doing them again. Digging the three by two feet terraces lasts for a long time, and after raining, they capture water and one is assured of high yields in all crop varieties."
Trees and terraces are just two methods in ASDF’s climate-smart farming toolbox. Deploying the right set of techniques suitable to local conditions and the needs of the community can transform landscapes entirely.
As a result, people can create a sustainable future for themselves right where they are, rather than having to flee their homes in search for better land, which often leads to pressure on resources elsewhere and eventually conflict.
Terraces have had a big impact in our farms... Digging the three by two feet terraces lasts for a long time, and after raining they capture water and one is assured of high yields in all crop varieties.
Florence Nzilani Musau, chairlady of the Nyeki Ndune self-help group