10. Refining soil conservation strategies in the mountain environment: the climatic factor.
DESFIL Publication; prepared for USAID, USA; 1990, 36 pp. + appendices
The overall objective of this report is to establish simple procedures for the use of climate, soil, and slope data during the design phase of conservation projects with small farmers in the Latin American highlands. Use of these procedures can greatly facilitate the initial selection of soil conservation measures that might be employed.
The authors discuss briefly, but do not analyze, the role of socioeconomic and institutional factors, as they relate to the successful adoption of appropriate soil conservation measures. They set as their task in this report the development of a simple method for determining appropriate soil conservation technologies in areas of steep slopes. They are cognizant of constraints such as patterns of land tenure, social organization of labour, traditional crop preferences, existing traditional technologies, market patterns, and local perceptions of risk and costs versus benefits - to name a few of the more obvious socioeconomic variables - on the successful adoption of non-traditional technologies, no matter how appropriate from a strictly technical standpoint they may be.
The hill and mountain regions of Latin America represent the fragile land resource for innumerable families on small farms. A major threat to their survival is land degradation resulting from soil erosion. Soil conservation projects directed toward this problem have been implemented throughout the region with mixed results, and the design of such projects is the subject of this report.
Section 2.0 begins with a summary of contemporary soil erosion problems in Ecuador, followed by a brief introductory discussion of erosion and sedimentation process in Section 3.0. Section 4.0 provides a summary of the team's field and desk analyses conducted in Ecuador; the resultant decision tree, designed to assist the field manager in the preliminary selection of regionally appropriate erosion control techniques, is discussed in Section 5.0. Socioeconomic parameters of importance to a more effective use of the decision tree are discussed in Section 6.0, followed by a discussion of the study's major conclusions and recommendations in Section 7.0. Appendix 1 shows the average monthly water balance for 12 stations in the Ecuadorian highlands; Appendix 2 provides a method for approximating annual water balance by month; and Appendix 3 discusses a number of soil loss quantification techniques of potential use to ongoing and future projects. A model monitoring plan is also discussed. A brief description of contemporary soil conservation techniques is shown in Appendix 4.
To achieve site-specific project, implementation must take a learning approach. During the initial period, the project must learn what works.
This is a period of testing and validation to identify effective soil conservation interventions, effective institutional arrangements, and effective means to collaborate with farm families and communities. In the second phase learning should focus on efficiency, while in the later phases the project must learn to expand and achieve wider coverage. Many projects attempt wide coverage initially, and only by chance identify what works late in project life. Efficiency may never be achieved.
The study includes a decision tree which integrates rainfall, slope, and soil factors in the choice of conservation measures; a discussion of farmer practices and economic and social factors in soil conservation measures; and an appendix on techniques for monitoring soil loss as well as a discussion of monitoring programs.
Given the wide range of physical and social factors of influence to accelerated erosion processes, conservation projects should logically employ a site-specific approach. The development of additional procedures for the systematic consideration of socioeconomic, community, and institutional variables, in conjunction with the technical procedures described here, is highly recommended.
1263 92 - 13/61
Erosion and desertification control
Africa, Zimbabwe, project, land-use pattern, institutional framework, training, research approach, on-farm trials, GTZ
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