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Keywords:

  • sustainable land management;
  • scientific and local knowledge;
  • participatory decision-making;
  • small-scale agriculture

ABSTRACT

Desertification is the most disturbing and detrimental cause of rural vulnerability in Cape Verde, affecting families' material and environmental resources. Combating desertification in Cape Verde is complex because it involves addressing a mixture of endogenous (manual agriculture, fuel wood and fodder extraction, land tenure and steep slopes) and exogenous drivers (high rainfall variability, climate change, prolonged drought or heavy rainfall). To address and mitigate the adverse effects of desertification, it is necessary to develop an approach that identifies and brings together all the key stakeholders affected by and acting on the desertification issue, including land users, policy makers, managers, researchers and rural development technicians. This paper presents a hybrid methodology based on global best practices, applied in Cape Verde. It combines experiences and skills of local stakeholders (farmers, local association of land users and local non-governmental organizations) with scientific knowledge of external stakeholders such as technicians of the Ministry of Rural Development, environmental advisors of Municipalities and researchers. Integration takes place following a participatory process of appraising and selecting desertification control strategies. The paper presents the first results obtained from application of the hybrid methodology to Ribeira Seca, the largest watershed of Santiago Island. The approach was evaluated with local and external stakeholders. Both groups appreciated that they could voice their views and discuss ways to overcome barriers and also to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by jointly selected promising desertification mitigation options. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.