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The Man Who Stopped the Desert - Film Festival

Last Updated on Monday, 12 March 2012 14:20

An African peasant farmer has managed what so many others failed to do: transform the lives of thousands of people by making the desert bloom again. Discover the untold story of Yacouba Sawadogo, an illiterate African farmer who battled for two decades with nature and man to become a pioneer in the fight against desertification. Perfectly pitched cinematography engages beautifully with a story that will leave you moved and inspired.

Yacouba resurrected an ancient planting technique known as "zai," using traditional planting pits. He hacked into the hard-baked earth and filled the pits with compost. In the region, tens of thousands of hectares of land that was completely unproductive have been made fertile again. Yacouba has reversed the process of desertification in the deforested and drought-ridden Sahel, a belt up to 1,000km wide, spanning Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.

This story is a reminder that determined individuals can at least slow down the steamroller of environmental destruction across the planet.

Using, and then enhancing, traditional "zai" techniques for restoring degraded land, which involve planting seeds directly into pits that have been enhanced with small handfuls of composted dung, Yacouba Sawadogo has spent over a quarter century experimenting with his soils, and then teaching his fellow farmers, resulting in the successful rehabilitation of farmland, the regrowth of forests, and attention from international media and non-profit organizations who wanted to learn more about Sawadogo's techniques.

Read about award winning films at the Jackson Hole Film Festival here.

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