Socio-economic impact of rock bund construction for small farmers of Bam Province/Burkina Faso
Soil degradation has made erosion control and water harvesting an important measure in most of sub-Sahelian Western Africa. The construction of stone lines, dikes and dams has been proven a sustainable measure which is widely accepted by the rural population of northern Burkina Faso. The objective of a field study which was conducted in Bam Province from 1992 to 1994 was to investigate economic profitability of erosion control measures under farmers' conditions on household level and for different household sub-groups. Main aspects concerned yield changes in small farmers' staple food grain production of sorghum and millet as well as the competition of rock bund construction with other dry season activities. Based on farm surveys, assessment of impact on farmers' fields, investment calculations and risk considerations examined different types of costs: construction and maintenance costs, opportunity costs of dry season activities as well as subsidies offered by development organizations. Results show a high dependence of investment on opportunity costs of family labor and the competition of dry season activities to resource conservation. Farmers' perception of weather induced harvest failure and conservation induced harvest gains makes risk an important factor in rock bund construction. Women as one of the major household sub-groups have no rock bunds on their individual plots and only gain from resource conservation by family fields. So far, it can not be guaranteed that women's economic position is stabilized by resource conservation.