News / 15 June 2023

Combating drought by protecting saplings

Koussanar, in eastern Senegal, is a small town that is expanding rapidly, surrounded by villages still rooted in rural and nomadic life. The region is hot and dry, which is exacerbated by climate change. The soil in the region is also dry and often exhausted due to a combination of factors such as unsustainable agricultural practices, (peanut) monoculture, intensive agriculture, forest fires and overgrazing. Today, however, the region's farmers and nomadic pastoralists take a different approach. They are working towards a better future by committing to the restoration of degraded land using Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR).

The basic principle of FMNR is to nurture what spontaneously springs from the soil, and protect the sprouts are normally eaten by cattle or removed by farmers themselves. What are the benefits? Shade, food for cattle, hummus for the soil, an improved groundwater balance and ultimately better growth of other crops. As a result, farmers have more food security and gain extra income.

Care and protect

To achieve this, the young trees and shrubs must be given the opportunity to grow. They need to be properly pruned at the right time, and protected from livestock of nomadic groups that often move across the fields – or from villagers looking for firewood. The farmer in the photo, trained in FMNR by the Senegalese organisation ENDA Pronat, puts into practice the techniques she was taught to prune a young tree in order to stimulate its growth. We also see a red mark on the trunk: nomadic groups and the villagers then know that it is an FMNR tree that should be left alone.

Dialogue between different groups

ENDA Pronat supports local communities in the sustainable management of their natural resources. The organisation trains small-scale farming communities in agroecological skills and how to market their products on local markets. ENDA Pronat also ensures that different stakeholders - farmers, herdsmen, villagers and local authorities - talk to each other, understand each other, work together and reach agreements that benefit everyone. Of course within the framework of local agreements on the management of natural resources.

Communities Regreen the Sahel

ENDA Pronat is one of eight Senegalese organisations involved in the 'Communities Regreen the Sahel' programme. The woman in the photo is one of 11,484 farmers who have now been trained under the program in Senegal. Since its start in 2018, 27,656 hectares of degraded land in Senegal have been greened using this method. Both ENDS is the coordinator of the programme, which runs not only in Senegal but also in Niger and Burkina Faso.

This article has been published due to the International Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, installed by the UN Convention on Desertification and Drought (UNCCD) on June 17th. Here you find other articles from this series.

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