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Yacouba Sawadogo is an exceptional man – he single-handedly managed to solve a crisis that many scientists and development organizations could not. The simple old farmer’s re-forestation and soil conservation techniques are so effective they’ve helped turn the tide in the fight against the desertification of the harsh lands in northern Burkina Faso.

Over-farming, over-grazing and over population have, over the years,
resulted in heavy soil erosion and drying in this landlocked West
African nation. Although national and international researchers tried to
fix the grave situation, it really didn’t really make much of a
difference. Until Yacouba decided to take matters into his own hands in

Yacouba’s methods were so odd that his fellow farmers ridiculed him.
But when his techniques successfully regenerated the forest, they were
forced to sit up and take notice. Yacouba revived an ancient African
farming practice called ‘zai’, which led to forest growth and increased
soil quality.

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The way it works is really cool! You can read about it here.

There’s been a documentary about him, too

@bugsieplusone I feel like this would interest you.


Ooooh, that linked article is awesome! It talks about Yacouba’s ‘zai’ practice, which is really cool (get termites to do work for you!) and also others, including really old artificially-improved soils in the amazon. So cool!