Yacouba Sawadogo became “the man who stopped the desert”. He is a 70 years old African Farmer from northern Burkina Faso. He was the sole farmer that didn’t abandoned his land after dreadful drought of 1970s and 1980s in Sahel.
Yacouba claimed that he adapted to conjure a forest from Burkina Faso’s rain-starved soil, while planting the sapling in the soil with centuries-old technique.
Farmer used Zai pits and it took four decades to create 40-hectare oasis of thorny acacia, yellow-fruiting saba and other trees near his village in Yatenga Province, bordering Mali.
According to the data from the environment ministry, Wind erosion, water shortages, rapid population growth and overgrazing caused 470,000 hectares of land to degrade per year.
Yacouba said, “This forest that you see today was really a desert — there was not even the shade of a single tree here.” He further informed that farmers have used the technique to grow plans in the soil by digging small pits for centuries and he did the same with little improvising. He used wider and deeper pits with stones.According to the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), his pits store ample amount of water for the seeds with rain water that increased about 500% of crop yields.Yacouba brought life into the dead land and accomplished the title of “the man who stopped the desert.” He also won 2020 Champions of the Earth award for Inspiration and Action.https://twitter.com/UNEP/status/1341247130971811846According to the 2018 study in Journal Sustainability, with the method of Zai and water conservation food security, groundwater levels, tree cover and biodiversity has improved in West Africa.
He said he will keep planting as, “If there are no trees and the land is not maintained, it would be a disaster.”