10. Vanishing land and water.
Macmillan Publishers/Terres et Vie, 1988, 117 pp., ISBN 0-333-44597-X; distributor: CTA, P.O.B. 380, 6700 AJ Wageningen, Netherlands
Rains are infrequent in the semiarid regions such as the Sahel and Sudan savanna zones, which stretch across Africa from the west coast to the horn of Africa in the east and which include the Kalahari and Namib areas of southern Africa. The rains last 3-4 months of the year and are often erratic and torrential. Man is powerless to alter the rate of precipitation. On the other hand, he is not powerless when it comes to holding back, storing and using sparingly the rainwater that falls on his fields. Using methods to trap water and stop the loss of soil around the village, he can ensure water penetration for the benefit of crops, store water for periods of drought, and make sure that fertile clay stays in the settlement.
This book sets out to show how artisan crafts dealing with water supply problems can play an important role in village life in dry lands. Water crafts are direct and indirect sources of revenue. They are a direct source of income for water craft artisans and an indirect source of income for cultivators and pastoralists who benefit from the water resources on their land, thanks to the advice and skills of local artisans.
This book was inspired by village schemes in Sahelian Burkina Faso. They extended over a long period and involved close collaboration between villagers, artisans and technicians. These people worked together to find solutions to the problems of water runoff, and the use and exploitation of water resources. The techniques described are limited.
Many other techniques exist and have been described in other publications. But what is striking about the experience of the GARY (Groupement des Artisans Ruraux du Yatenga = Group of Yatenga Rural Artisans) is that the level of practical skills acquired by villagers is quite high.
This book advocates cooperation between all the people concerned. The technical aspects, sometimes described in great detail, are only meaningful if they are accepted as something to be thought about by water technicians and their village partners. In other words, this book is not designed just for technicians. Its whole aim is to spark off useful discussions between the parties concerned. If this exchange is initiated, technical solutions will be found - maybe the solutions put forward here, or maybe others inspired by these solutions.
The Land and Life Series is aimed at practitioners and students of agriculture and rural development and associated vocational and technical skills. The books in the series treat topics according to appropriate, small-scale and affordable technology taking into account traditional ways but adding relevant modern improvements. For training, they can be used in secondary schools and vocational training centres and colleges up to the diploma and degree level, but they are chiefly meant to be used in the field, in practice. They are ideal for self-help, adult education and rural extension projects. They are written in a clear and highly illustrated style and thus can be used equally by those for whom English is a second language and by non-specialists. All the titles in the series are designed and produced as low-cost editions. Although based on African practice, the books are relevant to similar climatic regions in other continents.
The Land and Life Series is co-published with Terres et Vie, from whom French language editions are also available. Translation from French to English was financed by CTA.
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USA, field studies, water use, legumes, soil water, cropping systems
BADARUDDIN, M. and D.W. MEYER
[Ukrainian] [English] [Russian]