3. Kigezi and Uluguru

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Carswell 2006:


In both sites where the policies were accepted (Uganda’s Kigezi and Mgeta, part of

Tanganyika’s Uluguru Mountains) the measures introduced were close to existing methods of soil conservation.65 In Kigezi the early soil conservation measures (plots in strips across the slope, horizontal strips of elephant grass between plots, and ‘ridge terraces’ across the slope) were closely related to existing agricultural methods.

 For example, the DAO in the early 1940s noted that the measures he introduced were ‘an addition to and not a disturbance of the older system’68 and the DC described the soil conservation policies of the 1940s as being ‘solidly grounded in traditional procedure’.69 Being close to existing practices meant that the labour needed to implement these measures in Kigezi, while significant, was not impossible. People had to work one day per week, but much of this work involved carrying out measures that were already undertaken, so the additional work seems to have been minimal.

 In Central Province, Kenya, the system of implementation adopted was coercion, not persuasion. Chiefs enforced the communal terracing programme and, over time, ‘compulsion came increasingly to dominate the agricultural campaign’. Few efforts were made to explain the need for terraces, and attempts to win popular acceptance were ‘at best half hearted’.92 Colin

Maher’s original plan involved fostering support for terracing by rewarding co-operators with cheap manure and improved stock, but shortages of resources meant that this proved to be impossible.93 The soil conservation policies in Murang’a were stepped up from the late 1930s, and with little explanation for the reasons behind the measures, all adults had to work two mornings per week on soil conservation.

 Mgeta, Uluguru mountains

Similarly, in Mgeta, the western side of the Uluguru Mountains, people had practised terracing since at least the early 1900s,71 its benefits were clear and ‘people approved the results of their terracing’.72 In contrast, in the rest of the Uluguru Mountains the differences between bench terracing and existing agricultural methods were much greater. Here it was found that bench terraces were in fact totally inappropriate; indeed they were detrimental to the soil, given its thinness and fragility.

 Why failure?

 Labour: Farmers were unwilling to invest large quantities of time and labour on land that was not theirs.139 In Maack’s words: ‘uncertainties of land ownership. prevented any voluntary investment of labour in improving the land on the eastern


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