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DOES IT PAY TO INVEST IN DRYLANDS

By Jeffrey Chavez,2014-08-12 02:33
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DOES IT PAY TO INVEST IN DRYLANDS

    SUCCESS STORIES IN AFRICA’S DRYLANDS: SUPPORTING ADVOCATES AND ANSWERING SKEPTICS

A paper commissioned by the Global Mechanism of the Convention to

    Combat Desertification

March 18, 2003

Chris Reij

    David Steeds

     CIS / Centre for International Cooperation Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 03-033.ifad-ccd-gm/cry/jhe

Acknowledgements

    This paper benefited from useful comments from Jon Anderson, Will Critchley, Peter Dewees, Mike Mortimore, Patricia Mwangi, Mary Tiffen and Stephen Turner, and many others to whom we are indebted. Cheikh Sourang (Global Mechanism) took the initiative for this study and created favourable conditions for its implementation. The authors are responsible for any inadequacies in the paper.

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    Table of Contents ......................................................................................... page

    Summary ............................................................................................................ v

    Preamble ........................................................................................................... 1

    A. Justification of this paper ............................................................................ 1

    B. Successful drylands area development ....................................................... 2

    1. The Central Plateau of Burkina Faso (19802002) ............................... 2

    2. Machakos District in Kenya (19301990) ............................................. 4

    3. Makueni District (Kenya), Maradi Department (Niger), Kano Region

    (Nigeria), and Diourbel Region (Senegal) (19602000) ....................... 4

    C. Successful drylands projects and programs ............................................... 6

    Soil and water conservation ................................................................................. 6

    1. Soil and Water Conservation in Illela District, Niger .............................. 6

    2. Niger: the Integrated Rural Development Project in the Keita Valley...... 7

    Irrigation.............................................................................................................. 8

    1. Mali: Office du Niger large-scale gravity irrigation ................................. 8

    2. Nigeria: small-scale valley bottom irrigation with shallow pumping ........ 9

    Forestry .............................................................................................................10

    1. Forest resources management in Tanzania ........................................11

    2. Niger household energy project ..........................................................12

    3. Reforestation in Tigray, Ethiopia .........................................................13

    Livestock and range management .......................................................................14

    1. Livestock and Pasture Development in eastern Morocco .....................14

    2. Kenya: Arid Lands Resource Management Project .............................15

    3. West African Pastoral Pilot Program ...................................................16

    Community-Based Natural Resource Management ..............................................16

    1. Southern Africa: Community-Based Wildlife Management ...................17

    2. Southern Africa: the economic benefits of general Community-Based

    Natural Resource Management ..........................................................18

    Extension and Research .....................................................................................18

    1. Farmer Innovation in Africa ................................................................18

    2. Eastern and southern Africa: maize research ......................................20

    Local institutions .................................................................................................21

    1. Burkina Faso: local institutions and poverty reduction ..........................21

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    D. Some generalizations from the success stories .........................................22

    E. Pointers towards even greater successes .................................................23

    F. Next steps ....................................................................................................26

    G. Concluding remarks ...................................................................................27

    H. References ..................................................................................................28

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Summary

    The starting point for this brief paper was the premise that many well-intentioned drylands advocates were experiencing great difficulty in convincing their colleagues in Ministries of Finance and Planning, or their colleagues in donor agencies, that investments in drylands development make economic sense.

    This paper reviews the findings of some long-term studies of drylands area development in East Africa and in the West African Sahel. The broad findings are

    that drylands people are remarkably resilient and have succeeded in increasing their incomes in sustainable ways, and in coping with all but the most severe natural calamities. Coping has entailed on-farm innovation in risk-reducing and productivity-enhancing techniques and activities, and developing off-farm income sources, which are often, but not always, invested in on-farm activities. A thriving agricultural economy promoted by sound policy is clearly necessary, but is not a sufficient condition for successful drylands development.

    In reviewing successful drylands agricultural projects, the paper finds two common themes:

; Institutional development: simultaneous streamlining of roles and reducing

    costs of public entities, as well as strengthening capacities and delegating

    responsibilities to users‟ associations.

    ; Technical innovation: such innovation by researchers, farmers and/or project

    staff has contributed significantly to success, notably on the Central Plateau

    of Burkina Faso; some projects have become successful because they were

    flexible enough to integrate innovations that had not been foreseen in project

    design; and farmer innovation is a resource still waiting to be fully tapped.

    Mistakes have been painfully learned, as also in more humid areas, but project performance in drylands has greatly improved over time.

    The paper identifies some pointers towards successes. It ends with some suggestions for next steps, including stimulating impact assessment of dryland projects, commissioning more long-term area development studies along the lines of work done in the Kenyan Machakos and other studies, as well as mainstreaming the findings of this paper in new agricultural initiatives and in poverty reduction strategies.

    The various cases presented in the paper provide sufficient evidence to support the claim that the economic benefits of investing in African drylands can be high. Economic rates of return of 30 % were found in Mali Office du Niger large-scale irrigation, 20 % in Niger Illela soil and water conservation, more than 20 % in Tigray forestry, and 12 % in Tanzania forestry. The return to small-scale valley bottom irrigation in northern Nigeria was certainly over 40 %, and the return to small-scale irrigation in the Komadougou valley in Niger was probably of a similar order of magnitude. In addition, investments in drylands have greater returns in terms of poverty reduction than investments anywhere else and, since many disenfranchised people live in drylands, returns are also good from security and rights perspectives too. Investments in drylands clearly have many kinds of high pay-offs.

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Preamble

    The Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification has initiated two parallel activities and is involved in a third one aimed at producing evidence that investing in drylands is economically rational. These activities are:

    1. The compilation and analysis of success stories of agricultural and natural

    resource management projects in Africa‟s drylands.

    2. A study on the socioeconomics of land degradation and land rehabilitation.

    3. A study on the environmental impact of land degradation, a long-term exercise

    initiated by the global Land Degradation Assessment Program implemented by

    FAO. The program has selected Argentina, China and Senegal as case studies.

This paper reports on work-in-progress regarding success stories in Africa‟s drylands.

A. Justification of this paper

    It is often assumed that on economic grounds it makes more sense to invest in high rainfall and high potential areas than in the semi-arid and sub-humid regions of Africa. By looking at some successful agricultural and natural resource management projects, this paper takes a different position and argues that there are also good economic reasons to increase investments in Africa‟s drylands. In the 1970s and

    1980s, many projects in drylands performed poorly, because they were often using a top-down approach that did not involve land users in design and implementation, or they promoted technologies that were not acceptable to resource-poor land users. Both these factors were also at work in more humid areas, but they were particularly unfortunate for drylands where, in dealing with low and variable rainfall, local knowledge is decisive and risks cannot be taken lightly. Precious lessons were drawn from the many failures. By the end of the 1980s, increasing attention was paid to learning from success stories in natural resource management in the West African Sahel (Shaikh et al. 1988; Rochette et al. 1989). The number of success stories in drylands development has further increased in the 1990s, reflecting:

    - increased involvement of land users in all stages of the project cycle; - the development of new soil and water conservation and water harvesting

    techniques for drylands;

    - new approaches to research and extension;

    - innovations in community-based natural resource management.

    The mandate of the desertification convention includes arid, semi-arid, and sub-humid regions. For this paper, cases have mainly been selected from semi-arid regions (200/300 mm 800 mm annual rainfall), because these areas are more

    harsh and “difficult”, with lower and more irregular rainfall. Production conditions are much more favourable in regions where rainfall exceeds 800 mm. When looking at reports and publications about agricultural and natural resource management projects in Africa‟s drylands, it is striking how often claims of success are not 1underpinned by hard data. Examples of projects and programs have been included here only if at least some data about impacts, costs and benefits were reported. For

    some discrete projects, economic rates of return are given, while for others the available data is limited to quantitative impacts on production or income.

     1 This is probably also true for projects in other agro-ecological regions.

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    But development is not just a matter of individual projects. For any particular area over time, development is an amalgam of, above all, private activities supported by public recurrent and investment programs, of which any particular project is just one element. Thus long-term area development processes deserve much more attention than projects. Unfortunately, there are only few long-term studies of development of particular dryland areas, but these should be used more prominently.

Key elements of success used in this paper to select projects are:

- long-term increases in productivity;

    - increases in per capita income;

    - increased drought resilience of rural production systems;

    - increases in biodiversity;

    - for particular projects, economic rates of return of 10 % or more.

    This paper first looks in section B at some long-term area studies in East and West Africa, which analyzed changes in agriculture and natural resources management over periods of 2060 years, before presenting some cases of successful drylands projects in section C. Examples of successful projects are given in the fields of soil and water conservation, irrigation, forestry, livestock and range management, community-based natural resource management, extension and research, and local institutions. After drawing some generalizations from the success stories in section D, section E identifies some pointers towards even greater successes. Finally, section F indicates some next steps, as an indicative agenda for a workshop to be held in May 2003.

B. Successful drylands area development

    This section of the report gives some examples of long-term area studies in East and West Africa. One is the well known and often quoted Machakos study (Tiffen et al. 1994). The other examples concern studies recently undertaken or still in progress.

1. The Central Plateau of Burkina Faso (19802002)

    A multidonor-funded study is now underway on the northern part of the Central 2Plateau of Burkina Faso. The objective is to look at processes of environmental rehabilitation and agricultural intensification in this region during the period 1980

    2002. With 500700 mm annual rainfall, the region is characterized by marginal, predominantly lateritic soils, and population densities up to 100 km2. In 1980 this region was considered the most degraded area of the country. The vegetation was disappearing, cereal yields were on average 400500 kg/ha, groundwater levels

    were falling, and between 1975 and 1985 up to 25 % of the families left villages to settle in more humid regions. The preliminary findings, which confirm those of a recent impact assessment of soil and water conservation, agroforestry and agricultural intensification (Reij et al. 2001), are:

    ; Millet and sorghum yields increased substantially, by about 50 %, since the

    mid-1980s. Average yields of millet and sorghum in, for instance, Bam

     2 The study is funded by the Netherlands Embassy in Burkina Faso, the GTZ PATECORE project, USAID, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and the IFAD-funded soil and water conservation/agroforestry Project. The final report will be presented in June 2003.

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    Province were respectively 406 and 446 kg/ha in the period of 19841988, 3but 622 and 669 kg/ha in the 19962000 period;

    ; Cultivated fields treated with soil and water conservation techniques exhibit

    more trees than 1015 years ago. In many villages, 2550 % of the cultivated

    area has been treated with such techniques. Although the vegetation

    continues to degrade in most of the non-cultivated areas, cases can be found

    where the improvement of the vegetation on cultivated fields has reduced the

    pressure on the natural vegetation, which has started to improve;

; Increased investment in livestock by women and men, and changes in

    livestock management from extensive to semi-intensive methods: more

    manure is available for maintaining or improving soil fertility;

    ; Greater availability of forage for livestock due to local regeneration of

    vegetation, in particular of annual and perennial grasses on fields treated with

    soil and water conservation techniques;

    ; Although not a general phenomenon, several villages studied have seen

    locally rising water tables (+ 5 m or more) due to increased infiltration of 4rainfall and runoff;

    ; A strong decrease in rural to rural as well as rural to urban migration since the

    start of soil and water conservation in villages;

; Increased organizational capacity of villagers;

; Substantial reduction of rural poverty, up to 50 %, based on people‟s criteria 5mainly related to the degree of household food security.

    In villages with less soil and water conservation activities, these positive trends are much less pronounced or non-existent. The conclusion seems justified that the economic, environmental and demographic impact of soil and water conservation has been substantial. The impact goes far beyond crop yields and includes vegetation, water, livestock, and soil fertility management.

    These findings are supported by other studies, such as a case study carried out in eastern Burkina Faso, which concurs that land degradation is being reversed (Mazzucato and Niemeijer, 2000, 2001). Their second paper has a telling title: Overestimating land degradation, underestimating farmers in the Sahel.

    Although the introduction of low-cost, risk-reducing and productivity-enhancing soil and water conservation techniques has played a key role in triggering agricultural intensification and environmental improvement, not all the observed improvements

     3 These are average yields including those on fields with and without soil and water conservation treatments. Farmers unanimously agree that yields on treated fields are perceptibly higher than these. Are higher yields perhaps due to higher rainfall at the end of the 1990s? Rainfall at the end of the 1990s was about 10 % higher than in the 1980s, but 2000 was a year of low rainfall and serious harvest failure, like 1984. 4 These findings are partially confirmed by a rapid survey in 59 villages. This question needs to be studied in more detail. 5 Such substantial reductions of rural poverty in villages with a long history of soil and water conservation should come as no surprise. Recent findings are that a 10 % growth in agricultural production reduces rural poverty by 6 % (IFPRI and USAID, 2002).

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    can be attributed to changes in such techniques. Other factors have also played a role. Macroeconomic management has been generally sound, with no discrimination against agriculture and natural resources. The improvement of major roads between Ouagadougou and two regional capitals reduced transport costs and allowed traders from Ivory Coast, Ghana and even Nigeria to send their trucks to the northern part of the Central Plateau to buy sesame, cowpea and vegetables. The experience of this region is a win-win story: public and private investment in soil and water conservation has triggered a set of activities that has produced tangible economic and

    environmental benefits.

2. Machakos District in Kenya (19301990)

The results of a longitudinal study (19301990) on environmental recovery in

    Kenya‟s Machakos District were published in 1994 (Tiffen et al,) The provocative title of their book was More People, Less Erosion. One of the stunning findings was that

    despite a more than fivefold increase in the population between 1930 and 1989, land degradation that was a serious problem in 1930 had been reversed. Many factors have contributed to environmental recovery:

    ; technological change in agriculture accompanied by investment in soil and

    water conservation, enclosure of grazing land, planting of trees, and a wide

    range of other measures;

    ; the proximity of a Nairobi, which offered employment and market opportunities;

    ; improvement of road infrastructure, which reduced marketing costs;

    ; diversification of sources of income; farm and nonfarm activities are closely

    linked through families who manage flows of income and capital between them;

    ; very substantial private investment in terracing was at certain periods

    supplemented by public investment.

    The finding of “more people, less erosion” has been generally accepted, resulting from adoption of more sustainable agro/sylvo/pastoral production (and conservation) systems. Some commentators have challenged whether these improved systems also led to improved livelihoods, since Tiffen et al did not provide evidence from household surveys. There must, however, have been a positive income effect compared with the “do nothing” scenario (otherwise, why would people have undertaken the work?) and probably, even if not proven, compared with the pre-existing income levels of the 1930s.

    3. Makueni District (Kenya), Maradi Department (Niger), Kano Region (Nigeria), and Diourbel Region (Senegal) (19602000)

    Some commentators on the Machakos study argued that it was not a generalizable case, since it was so close to Nairobi, straddled a trunk road and, with sizeable areas of coffee, was hardly typical of drylands. The same researchers therefore decided to undertake similar studies in Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal in areas that were 6indisputably semi-arid . Some of the key findings of these studies to date are:

     6 Livelihood transformations in semi-arid Africa 1960 2000: policy lessons from farmers’ investment

    choices in Kenya, Senegal, Niger and northern Nigeria. As it is not possible to present the details of each case study, some of the main findings are presented here. These key findings are taken from Drylands Research working paper 40. Makueni is a new district that used to form the southern parts of

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    ; Farmers play an active role in the pursuit of more sustainable farming

    systems and improved livelihoods. They are highly competent in assessing

    the opportunities available and in finding solutions appropriate to their

    circumstances;

    ; They are highly responsive to economic conditions and market opportunities;

    ; Households remain a critically important social institution within which much

    diverse economic activity takes place, investments are made, and risks and

    incomes are pooled;

; In general, farming systems have moved towards more sustainable

    production systems -- notably with respect to improved soil fertility

    management and crop diversification -- a finding which is the result of actions

    by millions of small farmers and very rarely the result of direct government or

    donor intervention;

    ; Customary tenure provides a fluid, negotiated, dynamic set of institutions

    through which people try to gain firmer claims to land, and which has provided

    no disincentive for investment in agriculture;

    ; There have been enormous changes over the last forty years, such as

    growing scarcity of land, the privatisation of certain resources such as stubble,

    and the development of new forms of collective resource management, such

    as community management of natural woodlands, and community protection

    of natural regeneration both on farm and on grazing land.

; Natural resources are only part of a broader livelihood system.

    It is noteworthy that farmers in all these semi-arid regions have invested substantially in livestock. The better integration of agriculture and livestock at farm level has largely been a spontaneous process, which has contributed to improved soil fertility management. Higher yields have also led to increased production of crop residues, which means that more fodder is available to livestock. Cumulative public and private investment has led to asset growth -- in land value, additional livestock, housing investments, moveable assets -- that is clearly visible in many places (Mortimore, pers. communication).

What role did projects play in long-term area development ?

    In the case of Burkina Faso‟s Central Plateau, the situation is clear: soil and water conservation projects played a key role in promoting simple, effective and acceptable resource-enhancing techniques. Examples are a major Dutch-funded regional development project in the Kaya region (1982 2000), a German-funded project in

    Bam Province (1989 2004), and an IFAD-funded project intervening in different provinces (1989 2003). These projects were able to build on improved techniques developed both by farmers and by NGO technicians in the first half of the 1980s. In Machakos district too, external investment played an important role. Terracing techniques were introduced and had begun to spread in colonial times. People abandoned terracing for political reasons immediately prior to independence, but

    Machakos. It is mainly semi-arid. Its coffee-growing areas were not included in the study to have a better comparison with the Sahelian districts chosen.

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