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close this bookCERES No. 104 - March - April 1985 (FAO Ceres, 1985, 50 p.)
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FAO in action


Faced with the second highest population density in all of Africa (154 inhabitants per square kilometre) the Government of Burundi has been striving to increase agricultural production thorough better utilization of land and water resources. One important aspect of this effort is the dry-season cropping of marshlands whose output helps to bridge the gap between rainfed harvests from the uplands. As an initial step, however, an almost total lack of reliable hydrological data had to be remedied. Assistance in the establishment of a national hydrological service was provided through an on-going FAO/UNDP project for rural public works and construction. A detailed land inventory established the total marshland area at 112.200 hectares, of which about half is cultivated during the dry season. As some of the marshlands are made up of ecologically fragile peat-bogs, the Department of Rural Construction closely monitors their development and has created a national commission, comprising the organizations concerned, for this purpose. Several studies and a pilot project have also been undertaken to increase the productivity of non-flooding valley lands through small-holders irrigation. In the course of its development Burundi's Department of Rural Construction has become a valuable source of information for many national services, study missions, and consultants.


During the last 20 years Mauritania, a country subject to wind erosion as well as long periods of drought, has found itself at the centre of an intensive desertification process which has resulted in the deterioration of 12 million hectares of land. The most serous and spectacular aspect of this deterioration lies in the movement of dunes and the silting up of urban areas, palm plantations, and communications. The first concrete action to combat this process is a multi-donor project being carried out by FAO. Now in its first four-year phase, with funding of $5.7 million, the project is intended to serve as a model for neighbouring Sahelian countries. Its principal activities include the stabilization of sand dunes at 14 representative locations, research on techniques for anchorage and biological stabilization of dunes, training of staff at all levels, and the fostering of greater public awareness of the problem.


The swelling population of N'Djamena, capital of Chad, in recent years has led to a disturbing decline in forest cover in the surrounding area, reflecting growing requirements for curbing decline in forest cover in the surrounding area, reflect growing requirements for wood both for construction and cooking purposes. As an initial step toward checking this decline, an FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) project has been providing material assistance to the Directorate of Water and Forests to rehabilitate and strengthen forest situation and formulation of a project has also undertaken an analysis of the national forestry situation and formulation of a project for UNDP financing that will initiate a pilot scheme for wood production and water conservation for agriculture.