Wind erosion: the perspective of grass‐roots communities in the Sahel uri icon

abstract

  • Under the harsh conditions prevailing in the West African Sahel, farmers must deal with a range of environmental and socioeconomic issues that constrain agriculture. Although scienti®c evidence indicates that wind erosion is potentially a major land degradation process, little is known about the Sahelian farmer's perception of the relative importance of wind erosion as a constraint to agricultural production. Avillage-level survey was therefore undertaken to assess farmers' views about the relative importance of perceived constraints to agricultural production in 41 villages across Niger. During the interviews, the communities' views were also recorded regarding the causes and consequences of wind erosion as well as known wind erosion control measures.Wind erosion ranked eighth overall and was listed by male farmers among the top 10 constraints in 54 per cent of the villages. It was perceived by male farmers to be a moderate to high constraint in 39 per cent of the villages but was not considered important by female farmers. Wind erosion ranked third among environmental constraints, behind drought and soil fertility. Wind erosion related health problems were generally of more concern than crop damage or loss of topsoil by wind erosion. Deforestation, removal of crop residue and land-clearing practices were identi®ed by farmers as major contributors to soil losses by wind. To address this issue, at least 10 different low-cost technologies are currently being implemented by farmers, including leaving crop residue in the ®eld, mulching and natural regeneration of vegetation. The survey results indicate that farmers are well aware of the overriding importance of their management practices, as opposed to climatic factors, on the current extent of wind erosion

publication date

  • 2001
  • 2001