This research seeks to investigate the causes of low adoption rates of rainwater harvesting (RWH)
techniques - specifically demi-lunes - in West Africa, with the Zinder region of Niger as a test site.
RWH techniques are implemented to combat desertification: an irreversible process that leaves land
unsuitable for agriculture. Among the strategies to restore degraded land, techniques that increase
the level and duration of water stored within the soil and replenish soil nutrients, such as RWH
techniques, are among the most promising, but their sustained adoption remains low, despite
decades of investment by governments and NGOs to promote them. This research builds upon a
successful pilot conducted in 2015, as well as a recent larger-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT)
of interventions designed to encourage demi-lune adoption.
This research seeks to measure:
1. the sustained adoption, disadoption and new adoption among farmers in the original study sample;
2. adoption spillovers to neighboring farmers;
3. land abandonment and recruitment of new land into production, and;
4. agricultural production.
We will be supporting research efforts by providing remote sensing expertise to analyze measures of
demi-lune adoption, land degradation, and land abandonment at the Zinder field site. Using
high-resolution satellite imagery from a combination of data sources, we will work with a remote
sensing specialist to:
1. adapt remote sensing algorithm to determine the extent of demi-lune coverage on farmers' fields;
2. measure NDVI (a satellite-based measure of green coloration, ergo primary production) to
approximate the effects of demi-lunes on field productivity, and;
3. use a combination of approaches to identify abandoned (as opposed to fallow) land as a predictor
for future desertification.
These outcomes will be spatially linked to our data using plot coordinates collected during field
verification visits that will allow us to more completely characterize the spatial characteristics of
adoption, productivity and the precursors to desertification.
The expected outputs of this work is a dataset provided to the project PIs that records the outcomes
above at the plot level for the project years, and documentation of the algorithm to continue
measurement into the future.