degradation in Sub-Sahara Africa has been much debated in the past
decades. Although there are many different views, at the extremes there
are those who are of the opinion that the problem is very serious and the
main cause for the poverty and food crises and those that are convinced
that it is less of a problem, that African farmers are well aware of the
situation and have found ways to deal with soil degradation. Studying the
scientific literature on soil degradation in Sub-Sahara Africa one has the
impression that the opinions are as diverse as African farming systems.
March 2002 the ISRIC – World Soil Information centre organised a
scientific meeting to discuss the progress in studies on soil degradation
in Sub-Sahara Africa. During the meeting, there was ample time for
discussion and it became clear that soil degradation in Sub-Saharan Africa
is a well-suited subject for a hot debate. The papers presented in this
special issue of Land Use Policy are the keynote papers of the ISRIC
meeting and reflect the heterogeneity of information and views.
the debate on soil degradation will undoubtedly continue, the papers in
this issue show the wealth of views and opinions that exist on the
subject. The overall impression is that the views are diffuse but we
think that this issue throws some new light on highly important phenomena:
soil use and management in the poorest continents of the world.
Land Use Policy
by A.E. Hartemink and H.
Special Issue: Soil Degradation in Subsahara Africa
Hartemink and H. van Keulen
crisis or ‘lie of the land’? The debate on soil degradation in Africa
Koning and E.M.A. Smaling
balances at farm level in Machakos (Kenya), using a participatory nutrient
monitoring (NUTMON) approach
Gachimbi, H. van Keulen, E.G. Thuranira, A.M. Karuku, A. de Jager, S.
Nguluu, B.M. Ikombo, J.M. Kinama, J.K. Itabari, S.M. Nandwa
the tides of soil degradation in Africa: capturing the reality and
Muchena, D.D. Onduru, G.N Gachini and A. de Jager
knowledge and the social shaping of soil investments: critical
perspectives on the assessment of soil degradation.
small farmers’ achievement contradict the nutrient depletion scenarios
Mortimore and F. Harris
technology, policy and institutional development to address soil fertility
degradation in Africa
fertility decline and economic policy reform in Sub-Saharan Africa
These papers can be accessed through:
Use Policy homepage: