Reducing Soil Erosion and Boosting Overall Health in Africa
Unfortunately, food insecurity still plagues much of the world. While several different sources can cause it, much food insecurity comes from soil erosion.
In Africa, the amount of erosion is more dire than ever and the entire continent feels its effects. While it may not seem like a significant problem in areas of the world with the machinery and education to know how best to cultivate the soil, those without the same privilege suffer.
What Does Soil Erosion Mean?
Soil erosion is a natural phenomenon caused when wind or water sweeps soil away from its original position, leaving the land less fertile and, sometimes, abandoned. The land then becomes more challenging to cultivate and people find it difficult to grow crops. Sometimes, the only thing a family can do is stop using the land and potentially move somewhere else with more fertile soil.
Over the years, Africa’s soil has retained low fertility because of erosion, poor management and many other significant factors. Better education can help farmers know how to improve their practices and preserve the integrity of their soil. Fertile soil means more food security and greater nutrition in the crops they harvest. Carbon and organic matter are essential to soil fertility, but some farmers may not know how to reinvigorate their land.
In many cases, native flora can prevent soil runoff by creating a natural barrier. Cities and areas with much artificial development — like an abundance of concrete — are typically where soil runoff is the worst. By returning the site to its natural state, the native flora may be able to prevent soil erosion in the future.
Working Toward a Better Quality of Life
Luckily, more people are learning about food insecurity due to African soil erosion. Awareness of the issue makes it easier for organizations and individuals to reach out and offer help or education.
By working with more holistic approaches, Africa and other areas with low soil fertility can benefit from including soil with naturally occurring nutrients to create healthier, more abundant crops. Whether a small farm chooses to supplement its soil with natural products that won’t hurt the environment or start from scratch is the owner’s decision.
The Afrisoils program will increase soil productivity and reduce soil degradation by adopting more sustainable policies and practices when it comes to farming and long-term solutions. They aim to use smart forestry practices to eliminate detrimental deforestation, as well as provide and educate on the use of irrigation, growing more robust crops. This program supports legislation for sustainable farming and soil practices and will continue advocating for better policies.
The Soil Fertility Stewardship Project (PAGRIS) in Burundi has also been helping small farmers. This program plans to help at the local level to create three-year plans for sustainable farming. They advocate for reforestation and mulching to help avoid soil erosion, all of which will help with increased crop productivity. In the long term, the program wants to help farmers learn to increase soil resilience on their own. It aims to change over 100,000 family farms through education and transformation of soil in a holistic way.
Fertile Soil Leads to Better Health
Better soil comes from better management procedures, such as preventing pollution and degradation. Over time, the soil in Africa has eroded and made food scarcity a significant problem. More people will see the benefit of helping other areas thrive and try new things with a push for change. If people can grow their food locally, they may have nutritious crops to sustain them and their neighbors.
As a global citizen, knowing the issues affecting lands you don’t live in can help you understand the daily trials they must go through. If you cannot help firsthand, consider advocating for education in other areas of the globe. Once you realize just how much fertile soil can benefit other people, you’ll understand why several programs push to eliminate soil erosion by any means possible. Remember to advocate for change while remaining grateful for the knowledge and privilege you have to live without the same food insecurity.