By Graham Salinger
For 25 years Yacouba Sawadogo, a small-scale farmer in Mali, has been working to stop the process of desertification in the Sahel region of western Africa. During the 1970s and 1980s the Sahel, a semi-arid area along the southern edge of the Sahara desert that stretches from Senegal’s Atlantic coast to the Ethiopian highlands, experienced severe droughts that left the land baron.
For years farmers like Sawadogo have been adapting numerous innovations to re-green the Sahel. In 2010 the Web Alliance for Regreening in Africa (W4RA) was established to increase access to communication technology so that farmers in the region can share their innovations with one another.
The program, which lasts through 2012, partners with Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam and the Africa Regreening Initiative to increase the means of communication between farmers. With only 5.7 percent of the population in Africa having internet access, the program helps provide web based and mobile phone based communication technology to small scale farmers in the Sahel.