Degraded Arid Land Restoration for Afforestation and Agro-Silvo-Pastoral Production through New Water Harvesting Mechanized Technology

  • Michel Malagnoux


The Keita Integrated Development Project implemented in Niger during the 1980s was an Employment Intensive Investment Project. While working within the project's framework in 1987, Venanzio Vallerani, an Italian expert, noted the slow pace of land reclamation and the demanding nature of the work due to the scarce availability of workers (low population density). Hence, most of the degraded lands with heavy soils were abandoned. To achieve a significant impact, he noted that rapid reclamation of large areas was needed. He invented two ploughs, the “Delfino” (dolphin) and the “Treno” (train), which were adapted to different soil types and were able to reclaim large areas of degraded land. These automatic ploughs built micro-catchment basins at a rate of 700–1,500 “half-moons” per hour (compared with the 1–2 hand made “half-moons” built per day per worker on comparable soils).

This new technology has been tested from 1988 to the present in ten countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sudan, Syria and Tunisia), where nearly 100,000 ha were treated. This report is based mainly on results obtained within the framework of the projects Forestry and Food Security in Africa and the Acacia Operation. This technology is compared with other mechanized technologies and hand-made water catchments. Its potential contribution to huge land reclamation programmes, such as TerrAfrica and the Green Wall for the Sahara, is presented.


Land reclamation mechanized techniques water and soil conservation contour lines 


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© UNESCO 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michel Malagnoux
    • 1
  1. 1.Forest Conservation Service Forest Resources Division Forestry DepartmentFood and Agriculture OrganizationRomeItaly

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