If you have not heard of this wonderful man, you are in for a treat. I’m only going to give you a brief synopsis of his story. Links to learn more, to buy or rent his video will be given at the end.
Yacouba Sawadogo comes from a semi-arid region between the Sahara Desert and the savannahs. For many years the Sahara Desert was creeping ever closer to the town that he lived. Farm lands were disappearing and people were in a desperate way. Droughts and famine were frequent and widespread. One day, Yacouba began digging hole as one would to plant an orchard. Since he was doing this during the dry season, off season for planting, the other farmers and towns people ridiculed him: considering him insane. Despite this, he continued day after day, using this ancient African farming practice called Zai, pronounced Zaaaa I which he had heard about from family members. He filled each Zai hole with manure and other biodegradable material to provide nutrients and to attract termites. Tunneling termites help to break up the soil and retain water. Seeds of trees, millet and sorghum were planted. Yacouba also built a small wall, called cordons pierreux, made of fist-sized stones to keep the rainy season’s water from running off.
As a result of his twenty year efforts, a 30 acre forest with over 30 species of trees was established and effectively stopped the desert. Since then he has shared this technique with thousands of farmers whom are using this technique to stop desertification, and to provide food for their villages and towns. A man who was ridiculed became revered and today is considered a genius. He has spoken to many dignitaries including President Obama. Sadly, his forest is being sold off to developers and Yocouba wishes to buy his forest to preserve it but doesn’t have the funds. To read more about this, go to http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/09/soil/mann-text/6
There are many videos of Yocouba Sawadogo on youtube. Watch the trailer for the film The Man Who Stopped the Desert Yacouba Sawadogo
The Man Who Stopped the Desert is available for rent or to purchase at Amazon.com
When making recommendations of any kind, I receive no funds for doing so. Yocouba Sawadogo rocks.