A Better World - Volume 4

[ ] 50 A B et t er W or ld Combating desertification in the Sahel region by recuperating degraded land and managing its potential within the community Werner Sels, Founding President, Entrepreneurs without Frontiers (OZG) S ustainable development is hindered in some regions because of the communities’ inability to capitalize on the potential of their land. In order to activate and strengthen their capacity to do so, the fertility of degraded land must be restored through carefully judged interven- tions, after which it must be continuously valorized through targeted exploitation. To that end, the natural regeneration of the Sahel region of Africa can be catalyzed using best prac- tice techniques from earth and social sciences to restore and optimize original ecosystems, and by utilizing simple agricul- tural techniques such as direct sowing. With the cooperation of investors from developed countries, it is possible to regen- erate degraded soils on a large scale among areas vulnerable to climate change and marginalized from the world economy. Between 2010 and 2017, Entrepreneurs without Frontiers (OZG) achieved the regeneration of degraded land in two regions of Burkina Faso, namely Sahel and North-Centre. Covering an area of approximately 8,000ha the project was run by focusing on the concepts of sustainability, profitability, and access to a global economy. To achieve these results, OZG implemented a rigorous system, dubbed “Trees That Count”, which runs in three phases. Firstly, the provinces, municipalities and villages are engaged. Then, land is gradually recuperated over a period of three years per village. Finally, these interventions are valorized through exploitation over 15 years. Each year during the project, OZG organizes ecological and socio-economic monitoring of the progress, and shares the scientific results and objectives with the villages, result- ing in remedial actions. The operational model is based on a requirement for the villages to repay the investments on the basis of a valuation of their participation and the monitoring and qualification of the duties and services of the village partner at each stage. A positive score triggers the next stage in the intervention process. OZG then continues to support and strengthen its village partners in their challenges in four areas of intervention: • Communication and awareness • Administration and security • Science and knowledge • Entrepreneurship and local economy. Phase 1 — Engagement Stage 1 — Introduction of the project to the authorities The beginning of a collaboration in a region or province begins with a clear presentation of the project, given first at the regional and/or provincial level, with an explanation of the vision and expectations, and aiming to stimulate motiva- tion and willingness among the local stakeholders to become involved in the project. If local opinion is favourable it promotes discussion on the securing of investment, the agreement of guarantees in execution and recovery, the definition of a collaboration charter and the mechanisms for exclusivity on the land to be recovered. In the case of municipalities, they are presented with the selection criteria along with a discussion on expectations and operational methods of the project, with explanations of the processes and the commitments of each of the parties. An understanding of the conditions under which the project will be managed is then formalised by signing a collabora- tion agreement. The Mogho Naba, ruler (“king of the world”) of Wogodogo, one of the Mossi Kingdoms located in present-day Burkina Faso. He gave OZG the moral support to plant forests in the Mossi region Image: Daan Degroote