La FAO y el FMAM

Una asociación para la agricultura sostenible y el medio ambiente

Traditional practices and farmer field schools for improved land management in Southwestern Angola

In the semi-arid regions of southwestern Angola, the capacity of ecosystems to provide valuable services is under pressure due to changes in the pasture and water management practices, climate change and land degradation. The poor conditions of the land and the loss of traditional pasture management practices have led to conflicts between farmers and herders. 

About the project

The Land Rehabilitation and Rangelands Management in Small Holders Agropastoral Production Systems in Southwestern Angola project (RETESA) sought to address these issues through a participatory and integrated approach. The goal was to reverse unsustainable practices, including overgrazing in rangeland areas that was leading to the disappearance of grasses and fodder shrubs and competition over limited suitable grazing lands. The project adopted and developed agro-pastoral field schools, the Green Negotiated Territorial Development framework (GreeNTD) and a combination of time-tested traditional approaches and modern sustainable management systems. The key stakeholders and beneficiaries who joined the participatory process included the indigenous Herero, Khoisan and Muimba groups, who supported the adaption of traditional decision-making and conflict resolution practices. The RETESA project successfully employed good practices in traditional approach adaption, capacity building, and stakeholder engagement and coordination.

Good practices for the project's success 

Integrate traditional practices with modern methodologies to promote sustainability and foster dialogue

Under the project, a traditional management system was reinstated that allowed for rangeland recovery and rest. Animals were kept in more remote, mountainous areas during the rainy season and gradually returned to the river plains during the dry season. Through this simple approach, farmers and herders could alternate their use of the more fertile plains, giving time for more palatable grasses and forage plants to grow and produce seed. In order to address the rising conflicts among communities, RETESA combined the GreeNTD approach, which brings parties together to agree on the development of a shared territory, with the Jango Pastoril, a traditional decision-making and conflict resolution forum. The combination of Jangos and the GreeNTD approaches allowed communities to overcome conflicts between agropastoral communities, thereby enabling joint landscape-level planning.

Establish farmer field schools to enhance knowledge exchange and build capacities locally

The application of Farmer field schools (FFS) played a key role in working with communities and introducing new production, management, planning and rehabilitation practices. FFS brings together groups of farmers and pastoralists to learn skills, technologies or approaches related to a common area of interest, incorporating and expanding upon local knowledge. The field school approach proved to be an efficient, highly replicable and cost-effective way of building capacity and sharing knowledge on the ground. 

Promote sustainable approaches that safeguard rangelands and protect livelihoods

The project sought to increase ground cover to reduce sediment loads entering waterways, provide shade for livestock, increase forage production and introduce legumes and multipurpose forage trees in areas of high animal traffic. Approximately 750 hectares were successfully rehabilitated through the participatory selection and planting of open areas within the rehabilitation zone. Concentrated plantings of the selected species in strategic locations within the landscape was also introduced for the rehabilitation of riparian banks and reducing sediment loads in waterways.