Burkina Faso

Restoration approaches:

  • Vallerani method with direct seed sowing


  • Create tree cover and promote biodiversity
  • Promote sustainable exploitation of forest
  • Promote economic development
  • Build livelihood resilience

Why is intervention needed?

The Sahel is home to some of the world’s most vulnerable yet most resistant communities. Here, widespread drought, land degradation and desertification have swept through the region, changing the landscape drastically and bringing with it severe famine, poverty, food insecurity and sinking water levels. Despite it's dry, barren appearance, the area receives enough rain for trees to grow. However, the soils are so dry that water cannot penetrate and so is baked off by the sun before it can be absorbed. This means hardly anything can grow and desertification ensues.

Ecological restoration

This project employs a technique of land preparation known as the Vallerani technique that enables the rainwater and organic matter to gather in depressions. To prepare the land for sowing, the Vallerani technique involves digging half-moon earth depressions and embankments into the soil using a specialized Delphino plough attached to a tractor. This allows the soil to store water during the driest months, after which drought resistant species like Acacia can survive most of the year without rain. Local women collect the seeds of grasses, herbs and trees from surrounding areas to sow in the soils prepared by the Delphino plough. Species are selected to provide a variety of benefits, including those that improve soil quality. Trees help to support the soil structure through their root systems and enhance nutrient levels in the soil. Planting trees in an area where nothing except flat baked degrading soil existed has the potential to alter the area's microclimate by providing shade, evapotranspiration and cloud cover.

Livelihood development

Local community members engage in everything from collecting seeds to protecting the trees from browsing livestock, potential fires and harmful human practices. It is usually local women who receive training in seed collection and gather seeds from a variety of species throughout the year to sell to the project. When it comes to planting and caring for the growing forest, both men and women take part. With a vested interest in the growth of a valuable and productive forest, local people are keen to get involved. Seed species are selected that have socio-economic value for local communities. Grasses and herbs provide grazing pasture for livestock, medicinal and culinary ingredients and the raw materials needed to make handicraft items such as baskets, rugs and soap. As local communities harvest the growing forest sustainably, they learn skills, diversify the avenues through which they make their money and increase their incomes. The project invests in the livlilhood development of future generations as well, given that the local women that are engaging in the restoration efforts, many of whom are mothers, spend their extra income on their childrens' education.