Fighting desertification in Mali

The Barahogon Association in Mali has had remarkable success in fighting desertification using simple, low cost techniques to restore tree cover in fields and thereby keeping dryland farms viable. The Re-greening Roadshow will take a mini bus full of influential decision makers and journalists from the capital, Bamako, on a road trip to meet with the Barahogon members and some of the many hundreds of farmers who have been inspired to follow the Barahogon example.

The Roadshow will help to ensure that Barahogon’s success story is heard widely, both in Mali and elsewhere, so that these simple techniques can be used throughout the Africa’s drylands which face climate change and multiple other challenges.

What will the Roadshow do and see?

Farmers discussing the benefits of tree cover on their landThe Roadshow will travel to the village of Endé, near the famous Dogon Plateau where the guests from Bamako will see for themselves how the Barahogon Association has over, the last 12 years, turned almost completely bare soils into productive farmland with over 200 trees per hectare and, moreover without planting or watering a single seedling. The Roadshow will hear testimonies from the farmers involved, telling the story behind the trees: where the idea came from; what helped and what hindered them; and possibly most important, what the impact has been on their livelihoods and why climate change makes it crucial for these and other conservation agriculture techniques, to be recognised in government policy and mainstreamed in Africa’s drylands.

How it is connected to climate change?

Growing trees in fields alongside crops brings multiple benefits to farmers in Africa’s drylands.Trees reduce wind speed which protects young crops from damage. They provide shade which reduces soil temperatures and limits water loss through evaporation. Some species fix nitrogen which contributes to soil fertility and some provide fodder which attracts livestock with their fertilising deposits of manure. Trees improve biodiversity and provide farmers not only with timber but also with fruits and leaves with high vitamin content to eat or sell in the market, or with medicinal properties to save money on prescriptions.

Growing trees in fields plays a crucial role in adaptation to climate change by improving food security. Trees create more complex and productive farming systems that are more resilient to droughts and violent storms. Even if crops fail, trees will produce something to eat or to sell, making rural livelihoods less vulnerable to climate change. Growing trees in fields makes an important contribution to climate change mitigation by increasing the quantity of carbon stored on agricultural land (both in trees and soil). It can replace some of the mineral fertiliser needed to maintain soil fertility, thus reducing the farmers’ carbon footprint and saving them money at the same time.

You can see some of the negative effects of desertification and the positive impacts of the Barahogon’s work by watching this short film made by Sahel Eco during a visit to Ende by people from the village of Hore Guende:

Community manage natural regeneration of trees in the Sahel, Africa from ITF on Vimeo.

“We are delighted to receive this grant from APE because Barahogon’s success story is an important one and deserves wider recognition. There is a local proverb which says ‘To see something once is better than to hear about it a thousand times’. In previous years we’ve brought a few farmers to Bamako to tell their story to government officials and journalists. But this year, thanks to APE, the farmers will be able to take the government officials and journalists on a visit round their fields, to see with their own eyes the extraordinary changes that the farmers have made and the impact its had on their lives.” – Mary Allen Ballo Executive Secretary of Sahel Eco


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