Grass seeds, shovels, muscle and rain — the perfect ingredients to bring parched land in Kenya and Tanzania back to life.
Village communities in Kenya and Tanzania are using a surprisingly simple, low-tech method to fight desertification. They dig semicircular depressions into the earth, so that it when it rains, water collects instead of evaporating quickly from the parched ground.
Grass seeds are sown into these “bunds”. As they germinate, they bind the soil together preventing erosion and keeping it cool. In this way, more greenery is able to take root in the surrounding earth.
The technique was thought up by Dutch-Kenyan NGO Justdiggit, which has been working on the project with communities in Kenya and Tanzania since 2013. Since then, more than 200,000 “bunds” have been dug.
Justdiggit also helps communities build grass seed banks and supports reforesting, with 9 million trees planted using the Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration method. Above all, the organization focuses on on-site educational work, with the conviction that drought and desertification in the region can only be stopped if enough people learn these simple techniques and dig in.
Project goal: By revegetating degraded land, Justdiggit aims to increase pasture and arable land for locals in the Arusha region of Tanzania. Together with reforestation, this also cools the microclimate, helping to prevent desertification. Reforestation can also bind carbon dioxide and counteract climate change.
Project duration: The project began in 2013 and aims to restore a total of 130 million hectares of degraded soil by 2030.
Budget: The project is financed by donations and through partnerships with internationally active companies. Private donors finance individual bunds. Companies commit to providing money over five years to maintain 10 million trees in Tanzania.
A film by Joachim Eggers and Thuku Kariuki