Testing and Demonstrating Natural Resource and Conflict Management Technologies and Practices to Increase Food Security and Income Generation in Madiama Commune, Mali
Washington State University
Institut d'Economie Rurale; CARE -Mali; Virginia Tech
Food shortages and conflict over the use of natural resources due to loss of soil fertility, increases in soil erosion and the poor management of wetlands and pasturelands are serious problems for the villagers in Mali’s Madiama commune and the Sahel region as a whole. A participatory and collaborative research process was used to identify, characterize and test existing and alternative natural resource management (NRM) technologies with the aim of increasing options available to farmers in Madiama Commune as they seek to improve their food security and income generating capacity. Management practices were evaluated for their potential to improve the options available to decision-makers, including farmers and pastoralists, for managing their natural resources and generating greater income. New approaches for avoiding and managing conflict were also tested, since improved natural resource management (NRM) practices will reduce the pressure on resources over which conflict occurs.
The NRM technologies and practices being researched concern agroforestry technologies, wetland and soil water management, soil fertility management and diversification strategies. The assessments involve both modeling and field trials. The program is unique in that technical assessments are combined with process-oriented conflict management tools.
Conflicts over natural resources occur because the stock of these resources is decreasing as the number of people depending on them increases. The bio-physical and economic benchmark characterization and modeling will show how to slow or reverse the diminution of resourcestocks. The process-oriented work involves the local population in development, dissemination and application of research results and should lead to improvement in the effectiveness of communal approaches to avoid conflict over resource management.
Essential accomplishments for this past year included the establishment and training of three NRM users groups at the village and commune level, a soybean production trial based on local needs, and the quantification of biophysical benchmark characteristics of local NRM technologies and practices.
The overall purpose of this research is to improve food security and income generation by identifying, characterizing, testing, modeling and demonstrating cost- effective natural resource management technologies and practices. Specific objectives to be executed in sequential order are as follows: 1. Establish local NRM users groups, identify local available practices and establish biophysical and socioeconomic characteristics of soils, weather, cropping patterns, and natural resources manage- ment systems at the local (commune) level. 2. Field test, simulate and assess the benefits costs of alternative NRM tech- nologies and practices in collaboration with village level NRM groups. 3. Disseminate test results and evaluate impact.