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Justdiggit: Reviving sub-Saharan landscapes with earth smiles

Justdiggit: Reviving sub-Saharan landscapes with earth smiles
Justdiggit: Reviving sub-Saharan landscapes with earth smiles

In the heart of sub-Saharan Africa, an innovative and effective approach to combating desertification and climate change is taking root. Justdiggit, an organization dedicated to regreening degraded landscapes, has introduced an inspiring solution known as "earth smiles" to transform barren lands into vibrant ecosystems.

What are water bunds?

Water bunds, affectionately termed "earth smiles" by Justdiggit, are semi-circular pits ingeniously designed to capture and retain rainwater. These structures, typically measuring 2.5 metres in length and 5 metres in width—approximately the size of a small elephant—are strategically dug across slopes in project areas. The closed side of the semi-circle faces downhill, allowing the bunds to capture and slow the flow of rainwater. This design ensures that water infiltrates the soil, providing much-needed moisture to the arid ground.

The impact of earth smiles

The creation of water bunds has a transformative effect on the environment. In Kenya and Tanzania, Justdiggit has already implemented over 315,000 earth smiles, regreening a staggering 39,060,000 square metres of dry land. This effort is not just about planting vegetation; it is about restoring ecosystems, improving biodiversity, and benefiting local communities.

By capturing rainwater that would otherwise be lost, these water bunds promote the growth of vegetation, which in turn prevents soil erosion, enhances soil quality, and increases water availability. The resurgence of plant life also plays a crucial role in cooling the planet. Vegetation absorbs carbon dioxide, mitigating global warming, and through the processes of shading and transpiration, it cools the local environment, making it more hospitable for both humans and wildlife.

Community-driven sustainability

A core principle of Justdiggit's methodology is the involvement of local partners and communities in the implementation of these projects. This grassroots approach ensures that those who are most affected by environmental degradation are also the ones leading the charge to reverse it. By engaging local communities, Justdiggit fosters a sense of ownership and commitment that is vital for the long-term sustainability of the projects.

Benefits beyond the environment

The benefits of regreening extend far beyond environmental restoration. Healthy ecosystems provide numerous advantages to local populations, including improved agricultural productivity, enhanced food security, and new economic opportunities. The presence of vegetation can also lead to better health outcomes by improving air and water quality.

In essence, the work of Justdiggit is not only about transforming landscapes; it is about empowering communities, promoting biodiversity, and addressing climate change at both local and global levels.

A vision for the future

Justdiggit's innovative use of water bunds demonstrates how simple yet effective techniques can lead to significant environmental and social benefits. As the organisation continues to expand its efforts, it serves as a model for sustainable development and a beacon of hope for degraded areas around the world. Through the collective effort of local communities and innovative solutions like earth smiles, the dream of a greener, cooler, and more resilient planet is becoming a reality.

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