Conservation Bench Terracing in Somalia

Farmers in Somalia have long been building bunds on their sloped land to conserve soil and make better use of rainfall. They space bunds about 30 m apart on sorghum fields and cut diversion channels which collect runoff water from adjacent plots. Diversion channels, however, risk inundation of fields with sediment carried by heavy rains and may cause pipe erosion in places where water collects in ponds. Also, the traditionally bunded crops tend to mature unevenly, because of varying water availability on the slope. Kenneth Proud, a World Bank field engineer for Somalia's Northwest Region Agricultural first 10 m above each bund and leaving 30 m of uncultivated mitchment area. Yields from the field and micro catchment area combined averaged one and a half to two times the 230 kg/ha yields from traditionally farmed fields. In addition, the water conservation bunding technique requires only one-quarter of the plowing and weeding of the other method, and encourages more even crop maturation. Local farmers are working to convert their old bunds to the new system.

New Scientist, 4 February 1988, page 46.