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Semi-arid and arid regions are often referred to as drylands and are located in Africa's Sahel, North Africa, The Middle East, and the Pacific coast of South America. These areas are characterized by low annual rainfall and are typically home to pastoralists groups. One of the main agricultural concerns for drylands is the efficient use and placement of limited resources. 



  1. Key Resource 2012-11-14 The UNCCD estimates that over 250 million people are affected by land degradation, and about 1 billion people in over 100 countries are at risk. According to the WMO, 33% of the world’s land surface is vulnerable to land degradation.Degraded lands lead to overall reduced productivity and reduced...
  2. Key Resource
    2014-02-26 Pastoralism is a livelihood whereby people depend upon herding domesticated livestock. In East Africa, pastoralists depend primarily upon cattle, sheep, donkeys, goats and camels— listed in order of least resilience as one moves into drier and more arid lowland areas. Pastoralists play an...
  3. Key Resource 2016-09-28 Farmers in many parts of the world, because of human population growth, have little choice but to crop their land continuously, with scarce resources to replace nutrients withdrawn by each successive crop. Crop residues are often lost as a source of organic matter and mulch, usually through...
  4. 2013-01-01 “Zai” is a term that farmers in northern Burkina Faso use to refer to small planting pits that typically measure 20-30 cm in width, are 10-20 cm deep and spaced 60-80 cm apart. In the Tahoua region of Niger, the haussa word “tassa” is used. English terms used to decribe zai pits include “planting...
  5. Key Resource 2010-01-01 For many years, conventional Western forestry methods have been applied, and exotic tree species promoted in Sahelian countries in order to combat desertification. Large and small projects were commissioned to curtail the assumed southward movement of the Sahara desert, but few made any lasting...
  6. Key Resource 1992-01-20 In simplest language, agroforestry is the production of trees and of non-tree crops or animals on the same piece of land. The crops can be grown together at the same time, can be grown in rotation, or can even be grown in separate plots when materials from one are used to benefit another....
  7. Key Resource 1990-01-01 I often tell folks that ECHO specializes in growing food under difficult conditions. The pigeon pea, Cajanus cajan, is a prime example of a tough but nutritious plant for just such cases. This article is directed toward two audiences. For some of you, pigeon pea is already an important crop. You...
  8. Key Resource 2007-01-01 By Dr. F. W. Martin. Published in parts, 1989 and 1994; Revised 1998 and 2007 by ECHO Staff Though nearly all plants are useful in some way, they are not equally valuable. For example, wheat, rice and corn may be considered the most valuable plants in the world based on the vast acreage planted...
  9. Key Resource 2011-01-01 A sand dam is a reinforced concrete wall built across a seasonal river to hold underground water in sand (see above photo of Nzaaya Muisyo sand dam, Eastern province, Kenya). It is initially built one meter high and up to 90 meters across. During the heavy and erratic seasonal rains, the water...
  10. 2019-07-23 I discovered 100-fold gardens while researching ways to irrigate plants directly in the root zone. I wanted to know how to practically and affordably control some of the variables that influence plant growth, such as water availability and soil fertility. I read about “wicking beds,” which are...
  11. ECHO publications referenced in this document include ECHO Development Notes (EDN), East Africa Notes (EAN), Technical Notes (TN), and ECHO East Africa Symposium (EEAS) presentations. Technical Notes and EDN issues can be found by clicking on the “Publications” tab on ECHO’s networking site,...
  12. 2013-07-01 Conservation agriculture (CA) has been promoted in East Africa through a number of initiatives over the past half year. In this article, we share what ECHO has gleaned from regional partners, in hopes that you can expand upon these successes and also promote further sharing on ECHO’s website....
  13. ICARDA works with a tight focus on the problem-solving needs of resource-poor farmers, achieving this through the in-field delivery of its research outputs. Although global food production has increased by 20 per cent in the past decade, food insecurity and poverty remain widespread, while the...
  14. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is an international non-profit organization that undertakes scientific research for development.
  15. 1996-10-19 A Technical Note on Dry Farming Partially Buried Flower Pots or Tin Cans Save in Watering Capturing Water from Fog Drip Irrigation Book Reviews:Ways of Water: Run-off, Irrigation and Drainage and Vanishing Land and Water: Soil and Water Conservation in Dry Lands Book Review:Looking After Our...
  16. 1996-10-19 Zai Holes Harness Termites to Increase Crop Yields Grass Mulch: An Innovative Way of Gardening in the Dry Tropics Colored Plastic Mulches Thick Mulch for No-Till Gardens Rice Hull Mulch
  17. 2014-03-06 The HAFIR is an underground reservoir designed for storing rain water.Hafirs are usually constructed where there is enough rainfall and where there is no underground water.It is usually big enough to cater for the needs of the villagers and their live-stock for a whole season.
  18. 1991-02-01 Food from Dryland Gardens encourages gardens that serve local needs, that are based on local knowledge, and that conserve natural resources and the biological diversity of traditional crops. It was written for field workers, extension agents, students, project workers, and program planners. Both...
  19. 2005-07-20 “Gray water” (also “grey water,” “graywater” or “greywater”) is the term used to describe wastewater from dish washing, laundry, bathing, and rinsing. (Note: the term gray water does not refer to toilet waste, which is often called “black water.”) Although gray water does not need extensive...
  20. This group pageexists so that individuals involved in Dryland Farming around the world can connect. We encourage you to share the challenges you face in yourendeavors, discuss lessons and techniques learned through your experiences, and share your story!
  21. 2013-04-20 The article by Dov Pasternak about lablab (in this issue) reminded me of material in ECHO’s files from many years ago. Reimar von Schaaffhausen, working in São Paulo, Brazil, sent articles and letters over the years about the valuable role that lablab (and pigeon pea [Cajanus cajan]) have played...
  22. 2020-10-16 Below is a summary of a seed trial report ECHO received in 2013 from Peace Corps Volunteer Chris Peterson, working in Uganda (Nalugala, Wakiso District). Sharing the results of Peterson’s efforts serves as an example of what to expect from a seed trial. Trying new crops can be very challenging,...
  23. 1998-05-19 A conversation concerning the difficulty of obtaining mulch in semi-arid areas.
  24. 1998-12-19 Trees can be an effective source of mulch in drylands.
  25. 2018-10-17 The arid region directly south of the Sahara Desert (the Sahel), which stretches from Senegal to Ethiopia, has limited sources of fats and oils. Dairy products from cows and sheep are scarce and traditional oilseed crops are few. This is problematic for human health since fats and oils contain...
  26. With research, training and advocacy, we help build climate resilience, productivity and equity in the dryland areas of East Africa, Ethiopia, the Sahel and Sudan
  27. 2016-11-01 On average, crop yields under DER+ and TER+ increased by 30% and 16%, respectively, as compared to CT. Our study demonstrates that field water conservation tillage practices that incorporate CA principles are effectively increasing green water in the root zone available for crops. RCA systems...
  28. 2010-07-20 Looking for a nutritious legume that thrives in dry, cool conditions? You might want to tryCicer arietinum, referred to as chickpea and also by many other common names such as garbanzo, gram and bengal gram. Chickpea is noted for drought tolerance. It will produce a crop with an annual rainfall...
  29. Key Resource
    2019-03-21 This Technical Note provides an overview of parasitic plants of agricultural significance in Africa. Parasitic weeds cause drought stress and stunted crops. Affected plants include cereal grains (e.g., sorghum [Sorghum bicolor] and maize [Zea mays]) and grain legumes (e.g., cowpea [Vigna...
  30. 2016-03-02 Session: World Renew supports innovative ways to combat climate change. The presentation will dwell on lessons learnt from Conservation Agriculture promotion in pastoralist areas which will encompass adaptation, scaling up and extension methodologies based upon lessons learned from the field....
  31. 2015-02-04
  32. In every region of the world it is necessary to find or develop appropriate techniques for agriculture. A large part of the surface of the world is arid, characterized as too dry for conventional rain fed agriculture. Yet, millions of people live in such regions, and if current trends in...
  33. 2016-11-15 Understanding the dynamics of ecological design and agricultural practices connect at the point of design. Travel with us through our design process to create an ecologically balanced and appropriate diagram to implement, whether on small acreage or vast hectares of land. Learn the steps and...
  34. 2019-01-29 More than 4 million people in the West African Sahel are facing hardship following dry spells and increased food prices. In June, the FAO sent nearly $10 million in aid for drought-stricken farmers in the region, who depend upon rainfed agriculture. Recurring drought, increased populations, and...
  35. 2016-03-03 Session: This session will demonstrate Pastoralist Managed Natural Regeneration, a new reforestation practice which is successfully reversing the rapid deforestation and desertification in dryland Africa. Pastoralist Managed Natural Regeneration (PMNR) has been shown to be a simple, income...
  36. 2014-12-29 Agricultural Prosperity in Dry Africa contains a wealth of practical suggestions for dealing with the problems facing dryland farmers in Africa. He discusses crops, strategies, and technologies that lead to increased production and income for farmers with limited resources.
  37. “You must plant the rain before you plant a seed or tree!” proclaimed rain farmer Mr. Zephaniah Phiri Maseko of Zimbabwe. By doing just that, he and his family turned a wasteland into an oasis, raised groundwater and well levels even in dry years, reduced flooding in wet years, and enhanced the...
  38. 2017-02-08 In marginal environments where strong crop-livestock interactions exist, inclusive and equitable access to finance, well-functioning land rental markets, and efficient provision of extension advisory services contribute significantly towards the shift to more sustainable land use management and...
  39. A farmer from Burkina Faso who popularized an ancient farming technique to reverse desertification is among the winners of Sweden's "alternative Nobel prize", announced on Monday. Yacouba Sawadogo shared this year's award with three Saudi human rights activists and an Australian agronomist. The 3...
  40. 2016-01-19 Prof. Dov Pasternak working in Israel, was among the pioneers of drip irrigation. He researched irrigation with saline water and conducted domestication of arid land crops. He received a UNESCO Chair for his work on desert research. For over 10 years Prof. Pasternak worked as Principal Scientist...
  41. Rural Solutions is a video series that highlights solutions to specific challenges that are common in rural areas of developing countries. As natural resources become more scarce, herders who migrate seasonally have to travel long distances to find water and grazing land. Here is a solution to...
  42. Abstract, 2013,International Journal of Agriculture and Forestry Desertification, a phenomenon referring to land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions as a result of climatic variations and human activities, is considered as one of the most severe environmental and...
  43. The Journal of Dryland Agriculture (JODA) is an international journal that presents a platform for sharing and dissemination of knowledge in science and technology related to Dryland Agriculture and allied fields. It is a multidisciplinary journal that tries to promote good understanding of the...