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Post-project impacts of restoring degraded land in Tahoua, Niger. Included in Restoring African Drylands


When the IFAD-funded project started in 1988, few people could have imagined that 15 years later the degraded plateaus would be covered with trees on land restored to production by individual smallholder farmers. And no one imagined that a village on a barren degraded plateau would one day produce enough vegetables to meet its own needs and produce a surplus for sale, because water levels in the wells had risen so much. Furthermore, it was inconceivable at that time that restoring degraded land would lead to the emergence of a land market, with people buying degraded plots of land with the aim of restoring them.

Field visits between 2004 and 2019 showed that individual smallholder farmers have continued to use these introduced and adapted water harvesting techniques. Smallholder farmers who restored degraded land then developed new and resilient agroforestry systems and increased food production.
By doing so they have increased their resilience to climate change and many are now much better off than they were 30 years ago.

However, there is still a need and scope for further improvements.
First, farmers would benefit from better access to good-quality seeds and to fertilizers.
Second, the new agroforestry systems could have denser tree cover and contain a more diverse range of tree species. And third, improved rural roads would facilitate access to markets, which is important for villagers who are now producing surplus vegetables during the dry season.

The restoration of degraded land in Illéla District has transformed barren plateaus into productiveland. This is due to the insights and efforts of many individual farmers who decided that it was in their best interest to invest in these restoration techniques. There is now a great opportunity for follow-up interventions to further support the development of smallholder agriculture, and to replicate this positive experience in other regions and countries.

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