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Niger learns from its neighbor

The example of Burkina Faso's innovative zaï system for rehabilitating degraded lands also benefited neighboring Niger (Hassane et al. 2000; Reij and Steeds 2003). A modest development project ($1.5 million spread over eight years 1998-95) sponsored farmers in the Illela area to travel to Burkina Faso's Central Plateau. By seeing what their neighbors had done, the Illela farmers became convinced that the benefits were worth investing in.

They implemented the zaï technique on their degraded land and were delighted when the practice saved them from the 1990 drought. By 1998, 9,000 hectares had been rehabilitated, equaling about 15% of the cultivated area.

Farmers even began buying degraded land, confident they could restore it; land that was previously considered worthless now saw rising market prices. The practice continues to spread even though project support ended in 1995.

Return to "Dryland success stories"


Hassane, A., Martin, P. and Reij, C. 2000. Water harvesting, land rehabilitation and household food security in Niger: IFAD's soil and water conservation project in Illela District. Rome: International Fund for Agricultural Development, and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Reij, C. and Steeds, D. 2003. Success stories in Africa's drylands: supporting advocates and answering skeptics. Rome: Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.



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