Good practices in drylands management

Good practices in drylands management

A synthesis of experience within the arena of dryland management: exploring best practices

The objectives of this study are to analyze and synthesize the experience of the World Bank and other agencies in dryland management, with special emphasis on Africa.

Recommendations are provided on "good policies and practices" in drylands management, which can support actions to fulfil obligations arising from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) for member countries and for international organizations, such as the World Bank. The paper focuses primarily on "good practice" related to the management of rangelands and dryland farming, and on drought preparedness.


  • The understanding of desertification has undergone major changes over the last two decades. The problem is now seen more as one of reduction in land productivity in the drylands, rather than of productive land turning into deserts
  • Closer studies of long-term landscape changes, of rangeland ecology, of community natural resource management regimes, and of agricultural intensification processes reveal many cases where the resource management practices adopted by the people living in an area have unjustly been seen as degrading the land
  • There is a need to understand drylands change and management in a local and site-specific context. There is a heterogeneity or variety of causes and consequences of environmental change. These differences effect agricultural development potentials, extension and research strategies, and natural resources management. Each country and region requires a different strategy
  • Strategies to improve drylands management must build on a greater appreciation of the skills with which drylands people allocate resources and use opportunities, and of the constraints they face. Interventions by governments and donors must utilize the knowledge of local people, and be based on their views of what is appropriate
  • Resource management should be more participatory. However devolving power to local communities is not free from problems. Communties are usually heterogeneous groups, prone to be dominated by local elites. Delineation of landscape can cause disputes over border issues or shared resources
  • Drought preparedness should be a primary concern
  • Efforts to reduce dryland degradation require intensification in agriculture, translated as more efficient use of land, labor and capital, related to technological, institutional and policy innovations
  • The basic preconditions for improved drylands management are government concern, political will, and commitment. Focusing more attention on how government commitment is created and sustained - the political economy of drylands management - is therefore important.


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