Researchers from the Department of Animal Science in Makerere University were excited, and with good reason, as
they surveyed pasture land that had been corralled off in Nakosongala in the cattle corridor of Uganda. The team had been looking at options to improve livestock water productivity (LWP) in the Nile Basin. To their surprise, a carpet of solid vegetation now covered the expanse of land, affirming their Ethiopian colleague’s suggestion that corralling cattle every night over a two-week period would allow the desertified grassland to recover.
This simple solution was a breakthrough on a problem that had eluded ecologists and put livestock keepers under scrutiny for their role in accelerating land degradation. The completely degraded and desertified pasture land in Nakosongala had been the subject of repeated rehabilitation efforts, which failed when large termite populations destroyed young grass seedlings. Soil erosion resulting from this degradation caused nearby water sources to become heavily silted and impaired.
This outcome story from research supported by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) explains how this intervention demonstrates the importance of taking an ecosystems approach to understanding ecological shifts. Upon seeing the results, pastoralists were inspired to take collective action to restore grassland, and this collective action has spilled over to other initiatives that require community engagement and cooperation.