Notes to broadcasters
The hilly regions around Mt. Elgon in eastern Uganda are some of the most fertile in East Africa. As a result, farmers from the surrounding areas have gravitated there over the years. The population has been steadily growing, which means that the land available for individual farmers has been getting smaller and smaller. Because of the increasing population, people have burned bushes and cleared forests to pave the way for ever-increasing human activities. In some areas, these activities have encroached on national parks, triggering fights between the government and communities.
Because of this increased pressure on the land, soil erosion is widespread in many areas. In some steep slopes, landslides have buried entire villages because of the lack of trees to hold the soil in place.
In 2011, an international NGO called the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) started a campaign in the region. The campaign had several goals: to restore the forest landscape that had been completely destroyed by years of bush burning and tree cutting, to strengthen the local capacity to implement “ecosystem-based” adaptations to climate change, and to reduce the vulnerability of communities in the Mt. Elgon ecosystem.
The people in the plains and the people in the hills were both suffering from crop failure. But the causes were slightly different. Crop failure in the plains was caused by intense droughts because of the lack of vegetation cover. In the hills, crops failed because water running downhill had washed away the topsoil.
Soil erosion is a big problem for the communities that live high up in the hills of Kapchorwa District. So IUCN encourages people living and farming on steep hills to adopt practices to reduce soil erosion by running water.
Through a project called Ecosystem-based adaptation to Climate Change, IUCN encouraged farmers to dig trenches across the slopes of their hilly fields, create contour bands in their fields, and plant elephant grass along the boundary lines of their farms. They encouraged those who lived along river banks to leave a 15-metre wide buffer zone between the river and the farm, and to adopt practices like mulching, irrigation and planting trees.
The outcome has been that slowly but surely, over the last three years, the soils have been regaining their fertility and many farmers are quite pleased that they heeded IUCN’s advice.
This script is based on actual interviews. You could choose to produce this script as part of your regular farmer program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If you do, remember to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
You could also use this script as inspiration to research and develop a radio program on the benefits of reducing soil erosion in your own area.
If you choose to use this script as inspiration for creating your own program, you could talk to farmers and other experts, and ask the following questions:
What do farmers in your area do to ensure that running water does not wash away topsoil on their farms?
What are the reasons for not adopting practices that reduce soil erosion? For example, in Kapchorwa, in eastern Uganda, some farmers along river banks believe that creating a buffer zone between the river and the farm is a waste of good farmland, while others fear that the buffer zone could end up being taken away by the government and added to the nearby national park.
Have some farmers found solutions to these and other challenges? If so, invite these farmers – or extension agents and other experts – to tell their stories on-air.
You could also host a call-in program where farmers talk about these issues. You could invite an expert to talk and respond to farmers’ questions and comments.
This program runs for approximately 20 minutes, including intro and extro music.
I am in Kapchorwa District to visit farmers and learn about different ways to reduce soil erosion on hilly land, and how reducing soil erosion is important to agriculture. Later, I will chat with a field assistant who works for an organization called the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN. He has done a lot to convince farmers in this area to adopt practices which reduce soil erosion.
But first we travel to the village of Kaptokwoi to meet some farmers – Mrs. Bushendich Annet, Mr. Silkei Mike Chemusto, and Mzee Somikwo Charles (Editor’s note: Mzee is a term of respect, often granted to older and/or well-respected men). These farmers are pleased that their fields are regaining their fertility after they adopted the practices they learned from IUCN.Signature tune up and out SFX:CAR REVERSING, AND CAR ENGINE
I dug the kind of trenches that Bushendich described, on the sides of my field, to stop rainwater from taking away my soil. But no good came of it. The problem continued year after year and my yields went down and down. Twelve years later, in 2007, I planted 10 bags of Irish potatoes in the same plot and only managed to harvest eight bags.
(PAUSE) I leave Kaptokwoi village and take the four-wheel-drive vehicle to another place in the hills, a place called Benet, in Kween district. Here I meet Kokop Emanuel, one of many people in this village who attended the IUCN training.
Back in the town of Mbale, at the IUCN offices, I meet Christopher Lutakome. He is the field assistant who worked with farmers in Kaptokwoi and Benet villages since the beginning of the project.
IUCN discovered that most farmers were doing nothing at all to stop this terrible thing from happening. The few who were trying something were doing it wrong.
They were also afraid that the nearby protected area would reclaim their land. These people live next to Mt. Elgon National Park, and issues of encroachment are common. Many of them have still not adopted the practices we taught them.
As part of the project, we created an incentive fund to motivate people. It’s a revolving fund and works very simply: the fund promotes adoption of particular practices by rewarding people for adopting them. Whoever adopted the proper land management practices was automatically eligible to receive a loan.
The loans are very attractive because they‘re much cheaper than loans from a financial institution. The interest rate is 5% and the farmer pays it back after three months.
Today we’ve heard farmers talk about the changes that happen when you reduce soil erosion with methods such as contour bands, trenches and planting trees. We hope that you will be inspired to adopt some of these practices so you can enjoy the benefits of controlling soil erosion.
Remember to tune in to the program next week, when our topic will be ___. Goodbye for now from me, ___.
Contributed by: Tony Mushoborozi, content creator, Scrypta Pro Ltd., Uganda
Reviewed by:Richard Muhumuza Gafabusa, Project Officer – Ecosystem-Based Adaptation, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), Uganda, and Sophie Kutegeka – Mbabazi, Senior Programme Officer, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)Uganda.
Interviews: Farmers: Mrs. Bushendich Annet, Mr. Silkei Mike Chemusto, and Mzee Somikwo Charles, all from Kaptokwoi, Kokop Emanuel from Benet, and IUCN employee, Mr. Chris Lutakome. All interviews were conducted on February 5, 2015.
Farm Radio International would like to thank the International Union for Conservation of Nature for their support in producing this script.
This effort to raise awareness of forest landscape restoration is supported by UK aid, from the UK government.