Yacouba Sawadogo “The man who stopped the desert" won $ 341,800   

27 September 2018 : A West African citizen Yacouba Sawadogo, who is being called as West Africa’s Wangari Maathai won the 2018 Right Livelihood Award, Sweden's “alternative Nobel prize” and is all set to receive 3 million Swedish crown ($341,800) prize money.


Yacouba made mother Africa proud by single handedly stopping the desert. Yacouba is quite similar to the late Nobel Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and is proudly carrying the mantle as he shares this year's award with three Saudi human rights activists and an Australian agronomist.

Sawadogo, a small farmer from Burkina Faso hailing from the Sahel Region popularized an ancient farming technique used to reverse desertification and is being recognized as “the man who stopped the desert”. 

The great man converted an arid land into a forest using a “zai” technique : pits dug in hardened soil that concentrate water and nutrients, allowing crops to withstand drought.

It is an incredible discovery and should be adapted by local communities and other experts to regenerate large areas of degraded land, decrease forced migration and build peace in the Sahel.

This man rightly deserves the Right Livelihood Award prize which is essentially to honour people who find solutions to global problems.


He began teaching the “zai” technique back in the1980’s, and consequently restored thousands of hectares of barren land and in turn reduced hunger in Burkina Faso and Niger.


The Sahel region of Africa is a 3,860-km arc-like land mass lying to the immediate south of the Sahara Desert and stretching east-west across the breadth of the African continent.

A largely semi-arid belt of barren, sandy and rock-strewn land, the Sahel marks the physical and cultural transition between the continent’s more fertile tropical regions to the south and its desert in the north.

The success did not come easy to him, as he went through a lot of resistance initially, when people called him a “madman” and also set his forest on fire but he was very perseverant to see his dream for a green Africa come to light. With the passage of time he started getting recognition and now his technique is adopted by numerous agencies working to prevent hunger in the region.

He successfully created an almost 40-hectare forest on a formerly arid and abandoned land which today, boasts of containing more than 60 species of trees and bushes.It is definitely one of the most diverse forests planted and managed by a farmer in the Sahel.

Reporting for EasyKobo on Thursday , 27 September 2018 in Lagos, Nigeria

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