Even as climate change intensifies these challenging conditions, the Sahel need not become a desert. Unsustainable agricultural practices and overgrazing are among the main factors causing land degradation in the Sahel, which is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Fortunately, organisations like CRESA in Niger have shown that with the right approach, desertification of the Sahel can be reversed.
Today, the Right Livelihood Awards 2018 will be presented in Stockholm. One of the four people who will receive the prize this year is Yacouba Sawadogo, 'the man who stopped the desert'. Yacouba, a farmer from Yatenga, Burkina Faso, is one of the founders of so-called 'Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration' with which degenerated and dry areas are becoming green and fertile again. According to Both ENDS, Yacouba's award is very well-deserved!
Today, Both ENDS sent a letter, signed by various civil society organisations, to Sigrid Kaag (Dutch Minister of Aid & Trade) reminding her of an important deadline and to urge her to terminate the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) that exists between the Netherlands and Burkina Faso. The treaty, which can be very harmful for a poor country such as Burkina Faso, will automatically be renewed for the next 15 years if it is not terminated before July 1st this year.
Many people in the desertifying Sahel region have to choose: claim their land back from the desert, or leave their farms behind. In 2017, Both ENDS started a new project here, introducing a method for regreening the landscape: Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). It has proven itself in Niger, where we worked on FMNR for 15 years. By 2017, 15.000 ha of dryland had been regreened.
In various countries in the Sahel, vast tracts of land have been restored by the local population by nurturing what spontaneously springs from the soil and protecting the sprouts from cattle and hazards.