In the early 1980s, the situation on the northern part of the Central Plateau of Burkina Faso was characterized by expanding cultivation on lands marginal to agriculture, declining rainfall, low and declining cereal yields, disappearing and impoverishing vegetation, falling ground-water levels and strong outmigration. This crisis situation provoked two reactions. Farmers, as well as technicians working for non-governmental organizations, started to experiment in improving soil and water conservation (SWC) techniques. When these experiments proved successful, donor agencies rapidly designed SWC projects based on simple, effective techniques acceptable to farmers. A study looked at the impact of SWC investments in nine villages and identified a number of major impacts, including: significant increases in millet and sorghum yields since the mid-1980s, cultivated fields treated with SWC techniques have more trees than 10-15 years ago, but the vegetation on most of the non-cultivated areas continues to degrade, greater availability of forage for livestock, increased investment in livestock by men and women and a beginning change in livestock management from extensive to semi-intensive methods, improved soil fertility management by farmers, locally rising ground-water tables, a decrease in outmigration and a significant reduction in rural poverty. Finally, data are presented on the evolution of land use in three villages between 1968 and 2002. ?? 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Changing land management practices and vegetation on the Central Plateau of Burkina Faso (1968-2002)