Improvement of agricultural production using river weirs
Title: Programme for the management of river weirs in eastern Chad (GERTS)
Commissioned by: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Production, Irrigation and Agricultural Equipment
Overall term: 2012 to 2022
Fluctuating rainfall, a lack of irrigation, extreme climate and environment situations, and desertification and deforestation are adversely affecting food security in Chad. Farmers cannot produce enough food to sustain the population through livestock and pasture farming. This problem particularly affects the Sahel regions of the country. Soil erosion in low-lying areas and the absence of floods contribute to the loss of water reserves and fertile land. As a consequence, food shortages often occur in years with little rain.
For these reasons, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has made agriculture and food security in Chad a priority area. In the Sahel-Sahara zone, SDC’s priority regions are Ennedi, Wadi Fira and Batha. The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) is providing SDC with financial support for the third project phase.
Food security is improved in the regions of Batha, Ennedi East, Ennedi West and Wadi Fara.
The project improves agricultural production in the Sahel regions by building river weirs. These weirs distribute rainwater, thus reducing further soil erosion. Water flows more slowly and penetrates the soil. As a result, groundwater reserves are formed that can be used in agriculture. In addition to increasing agricultural production, the project aims to increase the population’s income and improve the management of natural resources, particularly water and soil.
The project implements socio-economic measures in order to achieve these objectives. It works together with public stakeholders, local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), authorities, operations management, economic interest groups and private partners, especially engineering consultancies and building companies.
The project supports ministries that are involved with water development in rural regions as they integrate river weirs into their development programmes. Private sector companies and structures (such as construction management) also receive support to ensure high-quality weir planning, construction and maintenance. The project also works with farmers to improve access to water and the acquisition of knowledge regarding good agricultural practices. The aim here is to ensure food security in families and village communities.
The project involves key local stakeholders in the various project measures. In this way, the various village communities are supported in organising the maintenance and use of the weirs together.
- By November 2018, eleven valleys had been equipped with a total of 64 weirs. The rise in groundwater levels is measurable, and as a result wells contain water for longer.
- The amount of feed available has increased significantly. Depending on the region, grass now grows on grazing land for a longer period and sometimes even throughout the entire year.
- According to a survey carried out in four valleys in the Wadi Fira region, the project has boosted vegetable production. The number of people who grow vegetables has risen by more than 18 per cent. Amongst women, this increase even amounts to 40 per cent. 63 per cent of the arable land is used by women and disadvantaged households.
- Millet yields have doubled, while vegetable yields have grown 23 per cent, and there have also been significant increases for rocket, onion and garlic. The results of the aforementioned survey show that a quarter of disadvantaged women and households increased their earnings from vegetable growing by almost 14 per cent.
- Local principles and management plans for water catchment areas have been created in the municipalities.
- The stakeholders involved in construction management have basic texts and hold meetings. They use a contribution system to cover maintenance and depreciation of the weirs, which are all in good condition.
- The project empowered six Chadian consulting firms to plan weirs and monitor building work at construction sites.